Cisco launches wireless LAN Flex controller

Device can support up to 2,000 access points; Cisco will demo device at Interop this week

Cisco Tuesday unveiled a wireless LAN controller that allows centralized management of up to 500 branch office locations from one data center.

The Cisco Flex 7500 Series Cloud Controller is now shipping and is priced from $47,995, said Sylvia Hooks, senior manager for mobility marketing. The controller will be demonstrated at Interop in Las Vegas this week.

Cisco today also introduced Integrated Services Router Web Security software for the ISR G2 branch router. The new software will ship in July for $2,495, plus an annual Cisco ScanSafe service subscription.

Bass Pro Shops said it has been using the new Flex 7500 controller for about two months to reduce the need for a wireless LAN controller in each store or warehouse facility.

In all, Bass has 54 retail stores, in addition to a headquarters and distribution facility. Wireless LAN is used to support dozens of wireless scanners and printers in each facility, the company said.

Steve Marshall, Director of IT Services for Bass, said that the company expects that the new controller will help reduce costs by eliminating the need for a separate controller in each store and reducing the amount of oversight those controllers need from store personnel.

"We expect the device to pay for itself in 18 months," Marshall said via email. "This will happen through cost avoidance [for controllers] in new stores and selling or trading in the old units we retire."

The Flex 7500 allows IT managers to remotely configure wireless policies, management and security settings, Hooks said. One controller can manage 2,000 access points and 20,000 Wi-Fi clients from 500 branch locations, Cisco said.

Meanwhile, Motorola Solutions last week announced a new NX 9000 integrated services controller to support up to 10,000 APs from a headquarters location.

Pricing starts at $14,995, plus $59,995 for the first 1,000 AP licenses.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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