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,

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


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 (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”.


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


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 08

Access points having a hard time downloading code

Cisco recently released Software version for their Wireless LAN Controllers (WLC). This version of code is a bug fix version. Over the past couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to upgrade some 2106 and 4404 WLCs to version

Upgrading a Cisco 2106 to

I have a large number of Cisco 2106 WLCs. If you are not familiar with the 2106, it is a small controller that can only handle a hand full of access points. It has a switch on the back with two of the ports providing PoE. Most of my controller have three access points directly connected to the controller.

Most of the upgrades that I have performed to have gone very well. I have had a few of them where the APs (1131) do not come back online. Some of these are due to the AP failing and they need replaced. Others I have found them in the downloading state, then never getting out of that state.

To fix this, I have reverted back to the old version. Once the controller is back on the old version, the APs have always come back online for me. I then shut down the ports going to the APs, then download again and perform the upgrade a 2nd time. After the 2106 is on, then I enable the ports to the APs. The APs have been able to come up, download the new software and register. I have noticed this takes longer then normal. Normally all of the APs are up after 11 minutes, these seemed to take about 15-20 minutes for some reason.

Upgrading a Cisco 4404 to

I have had the opportunity to upgrade some 4404 controllers from an earlier version of 7.0.x.x to I used TFTP from my laptop on the same LAN as the 4404 to get the file there. In the past, I have had the WLC crash and reload when transferring the image via FTP or TFTP over the WAN. It may be painful, but I suggest you always transfer the image from the LAN instead of the WAN for 4404s.

I did a predownload of the image to the access points (AP). The 4404 will only transfer the image to 10 APs at a time. In the morning, I transferred the image to the controller, then issued the predownload command. By the time I did the upgrade in the evening, the predownload was done. I did have about 10% of the APs that didn’t take the predownload and had the image transferred after the WLC rebooted.

Overall, the upgrade went very smooth!! So far, this upgrade is on par with all of the other upgrades that I have done with Cisco’s WLCs.

How has your WLC upgrades gone?
Did everything work well afterwards?