As organizations transform to digital workplaces and become more distributed, there is an ever-growing need to drive information seamlessly and to deliver positive and customized end-user experiences across geographies. There is a growing need to maximize business efficiency, reduce costs and improve operational agility. Thus, enterprises must provide wireless network solutions that will be always on, optimally manage high density environments, and allow the flexibility to host wireless solutions on dedicated Cisco hardware, and on private (VM environments) or public cloud. For many organizations, deployment of virtual on-prem or on-cloud instances, significantly reduces capital expenses allowing for a leaner and more efficient network.

What is Cisco Catalyst 9800-CL?

With the release of the Catalyst 9800 controller series, specifically the Cisco Catalyst 9800-CL, Cisco introduced a functionality which is of high importance to all our customers: Deploy Anywhere.

Cisco Catalyst 9800-CL is the next generation of enterprise-class wireless controllers built for both the private and public cloud. It enables wireless connectivity everywhere and reduces the wireless deployment cost for organizations substantially. Both private and public cloud deployments support the same maximum scale of Access Points (APs) and clients as Cisco’s high-end Catalyst 9800 hardware controllers.
9800-CL has been developed from the ground-up for Intent-based networking and integrates with Cisco DNA Center, creating the best-in-class wireless experience for your evolving and growing organization. Built on a modular operating system, 9800-CL features open and programmable APIs that enable automation of day-0 to day-N network operations. Model-driven streaming telemetry provides deep insights into the health of your network and clients. Whether in public or private cloud, the Cisco Catalyst 9800-CL series has multiple scale options to best meet your organization’s needs:

  • Small: Designed for distributed branches and small campuses supporting up to 1000 APs and 10,000 clients
  • Medium: Designed for medium-sized campuses supporting up to 3000 APs and 32,000 clients
  • Large: Designed for large enterprises and service providers supporting up to 6000 APs and 64,000 clients

How can organizations benefit from Catalyst 9800-CL for private cloud?

Cisco Catalyst 9800-CL for private cloud enables organizations to maximize their operational efficiency. It is highly suitable for customers who:

  • Require the same scale of features provided by Cisco’s high-end hardware WLAN controllers but intend to host virtual WLAN controllers on VM environments on their own private datacenters.
  • Have available data centers and want to leverage benefits from virtualized network resources, but do not want to move to public cloud.
  • Want to lower the capital expenditure by not having to spend money for buying or refreshing hardware WLAN infrastructure.
  • Desire flexibility in the scale and number of WLAN controllers that need to be deployed for optimizing their network management.

Some of the key highlights that make it easier for organizations to use 9800-CL on private cloud are as follows:

  • Hosting Flexibility. Catalyst 9800-CL is supported on all popular hypervisors such as VMware ESXi, KVM, Hyper-V and Cisco NFVIS (on Cisco 5000 Series ENCS).
  • Multiple Deployment Modes. All deployment modes are supported: Centralized Wireless, Cisco FlexConnect, Mesh and Fabric (SD-Access).
  • Scalability. Multiple scale options are available with a single deployment package to best meet your organization’s needs.
  • Assisted Configuration. An intuitive bootstrap wizard is available during the VM installation to boot the wireless controller with recommended parameters.

How can organizations benefit from Catalyst 9800-CL for public cloud?

9800-CL for public cloud is already available on AWS and GCP marketplaces and can be used by customers as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based WLAN solution. It is highly recommended for customers who:

  • Intend to run WLAN controllers on public cloud vendors in order to optimize network management and deployment across distributed geographies.
  • Desire more control and visibility into WLAN management and pricing by launching instances as IaaS from public cloud marketplaces.
  • Need the same scale provided by Cisco’s high-end, on-prem hardware WLAN controllers.
  • Prefer FlexConnect as the mode of deployment, and do not need central switching of client data.
  • Want to lower the capital expenditure by not having to spend money for buying / refreshing hardware WLAN infrastructure.

Some of the key highlights offered by 9800-CL on public cloud are:

  • Hosting Flexibility. Catalyst 9800-CL is available on AWS and GCP marketplaces.
  • AWS GovCloud Service. First wireless controller to be deployed on AWS GovCloud which enables compliance to specific regulatory requirements.
  • Scalability. Multiple scale options are available with a single deployment package to best meet your organization’s needs.
  • Assisted Configuration. Guided workflows and configuration templates provided by Cisco aids in simpler deployment.

Wireless networks empowered by virtualization

Exponential increase in Wi-Fi enabled devices across geographies are causing enterprises and service providers to rapidly scale the WLAN management infrastructure in order to ensure seamless mobility. As the need for flexibility, scalability and simplicity of WLAN solutions continue to increase, the strategic importance of virtualized / cloud-based wireless solutions in organizations will become more and more prominent. The Catalyst 9800-CL controllers enable optimized network performance and centralized control of WLAN deployments with no associated hardware costs. The wireless industry is continuously evolving, and Cisco is eager to aid your organization to achieve sustainable success through the expansive power of cloud / virtualization.

Ultimately, it’s your decision to make.

Learn more about the Catalyst 9800 controllers.


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Greg Dorai

Senior Vice President & General Manager, Cisco Networking Experiences - Campus Connectivity

Networking Experiences