What is a difference between local AP mode and FlexConnect AP mode?
Both Local AP mode and FlexConnect AP mode are wireless deployment modes for Cisco Access Points (APs) in a Cisco Wireless LAN Controller (WLC) environment. These two modes have some significant differences in terms of their behavior, capabilities, and design considerations.
Local AP mode, also known as Centralized mode, is a deployment mode where APs establish CAPWAP tunnels with the WLC, and all user traffic is forwarded to the WLC for processing and forwarding. In Local AP mode, the WLC manages and controls all aspects of the APs' operation, including configuration, firmware upgrades, security, and radio resource management (RRM). Local AP mode is the default mode for Cisco APs and is suitable for most enterprise WLAN deployments.
One of the primary differences between Local AP mode and FlexConnect AP mode is how they handle user traffic. In Local AP mode, the APs tunnel all user traffic to the WLC, where it is processed and forwarded to its intended destination. This approach ensures that all traffic is subject to the WLC's security policies and allows for centralized management of the WLAN infrastructure.
FlexConnect AP mode, also known as H-REAP (Hybrid Remote Edge Access Point) mode, is a deployment mode that allows APs to locally switch user traffic without having to tunnel it back to the WLC. In FlexConnect mode, the APs establish a lightweight CAPWAP tunnel with the WLC to exchange control and management traffic, but user traffic is switched locally at the AP, allowing for faster and more efficient forwarding of user traffic.
FlexConnect mode is beneficial in scenarios where the APs may lose connectivity to the WLC, such as in branch offices or remote locations, where the WAN link may be unreliable. In FlexConnect mode, the AP can continue to switch user traffic locally, even if it loses connectivity with the WLC, thus providing greater WLAN availability and resilience.
Another difference between Local AP mode and FlexConnect mode is the way they handle VLAN mappings. In Local AP mode, the VLAN mappings are configured on the WLC and are pushed down to the APs. In FlexConnect mode, the VLAN mappings are configured locally on the AP, which allows for greater flexibility and control over the local switching of user traffic.
In summary, Local AP mode and FlexConnect AP mode are two different deployment modes for Cisco APs in a WLC environment, each with its unique benefits and design considerations. Local AP mode is suitable for most enterprise WLAN deployments, while FlexConnect mode is more appropriate for branch offices and remote locations where WAN connectivity may be unreliable.