Cisco FlexConnect vs Local: Difference and Comparison

Cisco offers AP in various modes. The modes can operate in lightweight or even autonomous versions, depending upon the need and image for which it runs.

Most of the customers have wireless AP modes. They are compact and offer a better connection. The two most popular and common Cisco Wireless AP modes are Cisco FlexConnect and Cisco Local.

Key Takeaways

  1. FlexConnect allows access points to switch client data traffic locally, reducing the load on the WLAN controller, while Local Mode requires all traffic to pass through the controller.
  2. FlexConnect suits distributed networks with remote branches, whereas Local Mode is ideal for centralized and campus-based deployments.
  3. FlexConnect offers faster roaming and reduced latency, while Local Mode provides better visibility and control over the network.

Cisco FlexConnect vs Cisco Local

Cisco FlexConnect mode allows Aps to locally switch traffic before forwarding it to the WLC, providing some level of resilience and performance benefits. In Local mode, the Aps forward all traffic to the wireless LAN controller (WLC), which processes and forwards it to the network.

Cisco FlexConnect vs Cisco Local

In FlexConnect, the traffic does not go back to the controllers. Cisco FlexConnect is used to switch the traffic locally. The most common application is when wireless and wired networks are used on the same subnet.

There is no location restriction in the deployment of the number of access points of FlexConnect.

While in Local mode, two CAPWAP tunnels are attached to the WLC. One tunnel is used for management, while the other tunnel is used for data traffic.

The main application of locally switched is sending the traffic to the local site, not through the controller.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCisco FlexConnectCisco Local
Type of mode Selected mode Default mode
Specific channel Does not offer any specific channel Offers a BSS channel specifically
Other names H-REAPCentrally switched
FeaturesIt supports NAT, PAT, clients mobility, multicast, and others When the AP is not transmitting, Local mode can measure noise, interference, check matches that can be found against any IDS events and discover rogue devices
LimitationsDo not support neighbor discovery caching, client load balancing, IPv6 ACLs, DHCPv6 of NDP packets, and others The data traffic can go back to the controller during switching, limit on the overall AP as well as per radio, and others

What is Cisco FlexConnect?

Cisco FlexConnect is a wireless deployment mode. It is also called “H-REAP”. In FlexConnect, the traffic does not go back to the controllers.

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The AP in FlexConnect behaves like an autonomous AP. It is managed and controlled by the WLC. The functioning of the AP does not stop even if the connection is lost in the controller.

Cisco FlexConnect is used to switch the traffic locally. The most common application is when wireless, as well as wired networks, are used on the same subnet. The Cisco FlexConnect can support 4 fragmented and broken packets.

The minimum unit for transmission is about 500-byte in WAN or MTU link. The access points of Cisco FlexConnect are 1130AG, AP802, 1140, AP801, 1260, 1240, and other 600 series points.

The connection of the network can only be restored in Cisco FlexConnect if the network is locally switched and is in a RUN state. The access points of the network change from standalone mode to the connected mode.

The radio of the access point is reset once the access point moves from one mode to another.

There is no location restriction in the deployment of the number of access points of FlexConnect. The access points supported in FlexConnect are 1-1 NAT (Network Address Translation). PAT (Port Address Translation) is also supported.

However, client load balancing is not supported by the access points of Cisco FlexConnect.

What is Cisco Local?

Local is a wireless deployment mode. It is also called “centrally switched”. The local mode has the creation of two CAPWAP tunnels that are attached to the WLC.

One tunnel is used for management, while the other tunnel is used for data traffic. The centrally switched name is given due to data traffic switching from the AP to the controller. The routing device routes the bridged deployment.

The local switching pattern signifies that the traffic can be terminated at the switch at the local position, which is mostly close to the access point.

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The main application of locally switched is sending the traffic to the local site, not through the controller. The traffic travels over the WAN link for print or file services. It can travel twice.

The channel offered in Local mode is BSS-specific. The function of local mode is to measure the noise of the other channels when the AP is not transmitting the client frame, which is wireless.

It can also measure the interference and its rate. These functions are referred to as “behind the scenes” and performed only in the absence of transmission.

Apart from measuring different aspects of other channels when the AP is not transmitting, the AP in local mode can also take part in the discovery of rogue devices.

The local mode is also effective for checking matches that can be found against any IDS events.

Main Differences Between Cisco FlexConnect and Local

  1. Cisco FlexConnect is known as HREAP, while Local is known as Centrally Switched.
  2. In Cisco FlexConnect, the AP behaves autonomously, while in Local, the AP creates two CAPWAP tunnels.
  3. Cisco FlexConnect is not the default mode of the wireless deployment, while Local is the default mode of the wireless deployment.
  4. If the WAN link is down, the FlexConnect deployment mode will be offline, while in Local mode, the branch site is not offline, even if the WAN link is down.
  5. Cisco FlexConnect cannot measure noise and interference when AP is not transmitting, while Local mode can measure noise and interference when AP is not transmitting.
References
  1. https://www.theseus.fi/handle/10024/266919

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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11 thoughts on “Cisco FlexConnect vs Local: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article was detailed and clear about the differences between FlexConnect and Local mode, and their use cases. The explanation can resolve the confusion in choosing the appropriate mode for different deployments, which makes it very helpful.

    Reply
  2. The article does not mention the potential drawbacks or failure points of both modes. It is crucial to consider not only the benefits but also possible limitations before choosing a mode.

    Reply
  3. The comparison table provides a succinct overview of the differences between Cisco FlexConnect and Cisco Local. It is extremely helpful to have such a clear, side-by-side comparison.

    Reply
  4. The intricate details and in-depth analysis of the capabilities of both FlexConnect and Local mode are truly commendable. A well-structured and enlightening piece of work.

    Reply
  5. The thorough explanation of the features and limitations of each mode contributes to a deeper understanding of their functionalities. A great resource!

    Reply
  6. The breakdown of the main differences between Cisco FlexConnect and Cisco Local offers a comprehensive understanding of the unique aspects of each mode. An enlightening read!

    Reply

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