Apr 22

Mass upgrades with Cisco Prime Infrastructure 2.0

Cisco Prime Infrastructure (PI) is supposed to make managing your wireless controllers easy. One way that PI helps with the work load is with software upgrades on your wireless LAN controllers (WLC). If you only have a few controllers, the software upgrade is pretty easy and very manageable. Depending on your network, you could have 700 or more controllers to manage. When you have this many controllers, logging into each one to perform a software upgrade is not manageable.

If you have a lot of controllers to upgrade and have to do the upgrade after hours, PI can do it for you. The process is very simple,


STEPS
1. Select the controllers
2. Schedule the date, time, Reboot Type
3. Select the software image and FTP server (or TFTP)
4. Sleep through the upgrade

1. SELECT THE CONTROLLERS

Select similar controller models (CONFIGURE –> CONTROLLERS). Make sure the controllers you select can all go to the software version you are moving to. Selecting the controllers in PI could be a challenge. I prefer to sort the controllers by Software Version. If you are moving to 7.0.250.0 (Latest as of the writing of this post), then select the controllers at a lower version.

If you are using the PI Server/Appliance as the FTP server, I found 20 software downloads at a time is about all it can do. If you do more downloads at the same time, the failure rate increases. Do some testing on your network to see if it works better.

After you select your controllers, In the upper right select “DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE (FTP)” then click “GO”.

2. SCHEDULE THE DATA, TIME AND REBOOT TYPE

The next screen will list the controllers you have selected and the current software version.
– Click the radio button next to “Scheduled”.
– Enter a name in the “Task Name” Field
– To the right of “Reboot Type” Click the radio button next to “Automatic”
– This will cause the WLC to reboot after the software has been downloaded and installed.
– Select the Date and Time
– Enter the FTP Username
– Enter the FTP Password
– FTP port defaults to 21

3. SELECT SOFTWARE IMAGE AND FTP SERVER

I prefer to use FTP over TFTP because it is more reliable.
– To select an FTP server, click the radio button next to “FTP Server”
– Server Name, Default Server
– Enter the IP address of the FTP server, I use the PI appliance and it enters /localdisk/ftp for the location. That is the location where I have the file.
– No matter what FTP server you use, you need to make sure that it has the file and the username/password work.
– Enter the file name.
– Click “DOWNLOAD”

Now the job is scheduled and will run at the selected time. To view this task go to CONTROLLER –> SCHEDULED CONFIGURATION TASKS –> DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE. Once you are there, look for your task name. You can go to this same location after the job ran to see the results.

You need to do some testing to see how long the download takes. You may want to schedule 20 controllers every 15 minutes throughout your maintenance window. Maybe your FTP server can handle more or less and maybe it takes less or more time.

How do you know what WLC you already have scheduled when you go back to your list to schedule the next group? Cisco made it very simple, they put a little scheduled icon next to the current software version. When you list your controllers (CONFIGURE –> CONTROLLERS) you will see the following image next to the software version of controllers that are already scheduled.

PI Scheduled Job Icon

PI Scheduled Job Icon

I don’t advise doing this over the WAN with 4404 WLCs. I have had 4404s crash while performing an FTP image transfer over a T-1 connection. Cisco does recommend transferring the image over the LAN, not the WAN. On the flip side, I have upgraded hundreds of 2100s WLCs over the WAN with FTP.

Have you performed mass software upgrades with Prime Infrastructure and if so, how did it go?

Apr 15

It’s time to review the SSIDs you have in use!!

How many SSID/WLANs (Wireless LAN) do you have running on your wireless network? If you are like most, you have more then you should. Cisco wireless networks can support up to 16 SSIDs on a single access point (AP). With 16 SSIDs running on a single AP, the channel is about 60% utilized without any clients. This only leaves 40% of the channel to service clients.

Even with N data rates, I feel like my wireless network should be faster. I have coworkers that demand wired connections for meetings and temporary staff due to the slow wireless performance. Depending on the location I may have 8-10 active SSIDs. I did not setup the wireless network, so I don’t know why we have all of the SSIDs that we have. I do know that we have some for the older equipment and others for specific purposes like restricting user access.


After looking into the number of clients on each SSID, I found multiple SSIDs that were not being used. A couple SSIDs only had a couple clients. In one location I found two Cisco 7921 IP Phones on a test SSID instead of the SSID they should be on. They were the only devices using that SSID, what a waste of bandwidth.

After doing my research at each site, I discovered that I could delete about 3 SSIDs at each location.

I’m looking forward to the performance increase by deleting these SSIDs.

Maybe it’s time for you to audit your wireless network. Do you still need all of those SSIDs? You never know, you may be the Wireless Hero by improving the performance without spending any money!!

If you reduce the number of SSIDs please post the results that you find! I’m interested in reading about your results!!

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