Interoperability Evaluation for Cisco Catalyst & WLAN with Extreme Switches

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Wireless LANs are an essential part of enterprises of all sizes and Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation bringing enhanced performance and implementing 2.5GbE uplinks from AP to switch. To further enhance performance, Cisco Systems implements multiple 10GbE ports on its Catalyst WLAN controller. Extreme Networks provides high-performance switching ideal for serving as a network fabric for high-performance Wi-Fi 6 wireless networks.

Extreme Networks commissioned Tolly to evaluate the interoperability of its Extreme 5520-24X 10GbE and 5720-48MW series of LAN switches with the Cisco Systems WLAN and wired solutions as implemented in the Cisco Systems Catalyst 9800 WLAN Controller, Catalyst 9115 Series Wi-Fi 6 Access Point, and Catalyst 9200 48-port PoE switch.

The Extreme Networks LAN switches and the Cisco Systems Catalyst wireless WLAN solutions demonstrated interoperability across all functionality tests and illustrated interoperability with the 2.5GbE AP uplink, 10GbE WLAN controller, and the Cisco Systems Catalyst switch. See Table 1 for WLAN results.


Extreme Networks implements standards-based networking protocols to support open networking and provide support for third-party components in customer networks. For enterprise WLAN environments, it is essential that features such as Power over Ethernet, LLDP, and VLANs, function effectively between the wired LAN and WLAN infrastructure components. I llustrating that functionality and interoperability was the driver for this test. Additionally, it is imperative to prove support for 10GbE and 2.5GbE uplinks as WLAN capacities continue to increase. As noted, all WLAN results are summarized in Table 1.

Tests were conducted in a microcosm of an Enterprise environment. This consisted of Extreme LAN switches providing wired Ethernet switching, including Power over Ethernet and Multigigabit Ethernet and 10GbE ports, communicating across the Cisco Catalyst 9200 switch. The Cisco WLAN AP was connected to the Extreme PoE switch and the Cisco WLAN controller was connected to the Extreme 10GbE switch. Various test clients on multiple network segments provided session traffic needed to evaluate the interoperability. All components were tested as a complete system. 

Test Setup & Methodology

LAN Switch

Tolly Group engineers tested WLAN interoperability using the Extreme Networks switches as the wired Ethernet LAN Switches.

WLAN Access Point & Controller

The Cisco Systems WLAN solution consisted of the Cisco Catalyst 9800 Series WLAN controller and a Cisco Catalyst 9115 Series Wi-Fi 6 Access Point. The AP was configured with a static IP address. The Cisco WLAN controller was configured to have the AP traffic tunneled to the controller, and tests were also conducted with local bridging mode For WLAN infrastructure details, see Table 3.

Clients & Session Traffic

Various common clients (Windows, MacOS, iOS wired and wireless) were used as required to provide the session traffic over  the WLAN / wired environment. As the use of these clients was to provide generic traffic to illustrate that the environment was operational and that traffic could flow across the heterogenous switch-APcontroller environment client details are not relevant and, thus, not documented herein. 

Test Methodology

Power Over Ethernet

This test verified that the LAN switch could deliver power to the AP from the LAN switch wired Ethernet port.

Tolly engineers used the Extreme switch show command to validate that the switch was delivering power to the AP under test. Tolly engineers reviewed the power setting on the port before and after the AP was connected.

Link Layer Discovery Protocol

This test verified that the LAN switch could identify key attributes of the AP under test via LLDP.

Tolly engineers used the Extreme switch show command to verify that the Extreme switch could identify the system name of the AP under test.

Power Negotiation via LLDP

This test verified that the LAN switch could negotiate power to the level requested by the AP under test.

Tolly engineers used the aforementioned switch commands to verify that power was negotiated to the level required by the AP under test.

VLANs (Tagged Traffic)

This test verified that the LAN switch could process traffic streams from the AP containing VLAN tags from two different VLANs.

Tolly engineers configured two clients communicating with the AP under test with each client on a different VLAN. The clients then communicated with systems that could be reached only by traversing the Extreme switches.

Tolly engineers verified that the sessions were established and, additionally, used Extreme switch commands to display the relevant VLANs on the switch and confirm the port mapping.

Link Aggregation

This test verified that the LAN switch could support the link aggregation function whereby two physical Gigabit Ethernet ports on the AP can be combined logically via LACP to provide higher bandwidth between the WLAN controller and the LAN switch.

Tolly engineers configured a port channel using LACP on the Extreme switch using two 10GbE ports between the switch and the Cisco WLAN controller. Engineers confirmed that the WLAN controller recognized and used the link aggregation group.

2.5GbE Multigigabit Access Port

This test verified that the switch could communicate with the AP at 2.5GbE over the AP’s multigigabit link to the switch. This test was run only on the Extreme Networks 5720-48MW switch.


This test verified that the LAN switch could collect sFlow (“sampled flow”) network traffic information relative to the AP under test and send it to the designated capture port.

Tolly engineers used a Wireshark network protocol analyzer to capture the traffic to confirm that sFlow was being sent to the designated capture port. Wireshark was used to display the data to confirm its contents as sFlow.

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