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After 15 years, Cisco Wireless AireOS Controllers are going away
09 Feb

After 15 years, Cisco Wireless AireOS Controllers are going away

Remember 2005? What were you doing then? Were you waiting for a line for Microsoft’s recently released Xbox 360? Were you cheering for Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs as they closed out the Detroit Pistons for the NBA Championship? German Chancellor Angela Merkel assumed office as the first female Chancellor of Germany. Do you remember witnessing that?

It was a pretty busy year, but if you were in the tech world back then, I’m sure you noticed the new family of wireless LAN controllers from Cisco, specifically the Cisco 4404 Wireless Controllers. These new controllers made a huge impact on the industry as they offered support of 100 access points and less than 4Gbps of throughput. These numbers look very pedestrian now, the smallest controller in the Catalyst family, the 9800-L, supports up to 500 access points and 10Gbps. But back in the early part of the century, this was something that not many had seen before.

During those years Cisco, and in particular the products that used the AireOS, lead the industry with a bevy of Wi-Fi innovations. From Radio Resource Management, providing for the first system-wide view of the RF network, to Cisco CleanAir, which detects and mitigates interference in the early part of the 2010s, AireOS products helped to make sure that Wi-Fi devices were able to send and receive packets reliably and cleanly. In the middle part of the decade, AireOS products saw the introduction of Application Visibility and Control, Hyperlocation and Flexible Radio Assignments (FRA). All of these innovations took what was developed years earlier and improved the network. Automatically need extra bandwidth for an influx of devices? FRA can help. In the middle part of the decade, AireOS was there stretching the definition of what the wireless network means with new solutions such as Cisco Software-Defined Access and Cisco Intelligent Capture. Suddenly, segmentation and real-time telemetry are something that are a real-time thing.

Cisco AireOS controllers have served us well through many iterations of the Wi-Fi standard, from the early days of 802.11n, to 802.11ac waves 1 and 2 and now with 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 Cisco. But with the latest standard in place and the Cisco Catalyst Controllers paving the way, Cisco recently announced that their Wireless AireOS Controllers have gone End-of-Life. I know that for the majority of you, the question that arise with this news is a simple word, “Why?” The reason because the AireOS controllers have matured over time and can now be replaced by functionally richer Catalyst technology controllers. Rest assured that the 15 years of wireless innovations and RF excellence are being brought over to the Catalyst 9800 series.

But what’s next, where do AireOS customer go when they need to replace their controllers?
As the market adopt Public Cloud for scale and agility and Network as a Service becomes a reality, you will still need some wireless controller functions to be run on prem for the network to scale and have high performance. C9800 is the right platform for the job as fully programmable, scalable and can be deployed to serve different consumption models.