Cisco dCloud content include support for wireless clients and devices. Wireless connectivity is provided by Cisco Access Points (APs). Client connectivity to the AP is determined by how the AP is configured.
Access Point Mode of Operation: A Cisco Access Point (AP) is configured to operate in either Lightweight mode or Autonomous mode.
LAP (Lightweight AP Protocol [LWAPP]): A Cisco LAP is part of the Cisco Unified Wireless Network architecture. An LAP is an AP designed to be connected to a wireless LAN controller (WLC). The WLC manages the AP configurations and firmware; therefore, the LAP cannot act independently of a WLC. This mode is sometimes called controller-based. Enterprise Networking and Security content require lightweight mode. On a lightweight AP, the MAC function is divided between the AP hardware and the wireless LAN controller (WLC).
Therefore, the architecture is known as split-MAC. LAP forwards data between the wired and wireless LAN, and specifically forwarding data through the WLC using a protocol like Control And Provisioning of Wireless Access Points (CAPWAP)
Split-MAC Architecture: The LAP-WLC division of labor is known as a split-MAC architecture, where the normal MAC operations are pulled apart into two distinct locations. This occurs for every LAP in the network, each one must boot and bind itself to a WLC to support wireless clients. The WLC becomes the central hub that supports a number of LAPs scattered about in the network. The two devices must use a tunneling protocol between them, to carry 802.11-related messages and also client data. Remember that the AP and WLC can be located on the same VLAN or IP subnet, but they do not have to be. Instead, they can be located on two entirely different IP subnets in two different locations.
A Lightweight Access Point (LAP) can work in one of the following modes based on the user requirement.