Back in 2002, when the University of British Columbia in Vancouver decided it needed wireless classroom connectivity for enabling Internet-assisted teaching, the idea of \u201cwireless switching\u201d was a gleam in the industry\u2019s eye.\nFor context, the university began deploying its Cisco 1200 Series-based distributed wireless LAN in September 2002 - the very same month that Symbol Technologies announced the industry\u2019s first enterprise wireless switch. At that time, Cisco was still years away from acknowledging the potential benefits of centralized, switched WLAN architectures, preferring an architecture using stand-alone, intelligent access points (AP) that were provisioned and managed individually.\nBut when the university found itself under-budget on a fiber cabling project, it diverted the leftover funds to building the Cisco WLAN. Initially segregated from the wired network, the Wi-Fi network spanned 400 buildings and 1,000 acres to serve 35,000 full-time students, explains Marilyn Hay, manager of the university\u2019s network management center. That 1,400-AP infrastructure is now migrating to the lightweight APs and switched architecture Cisco inherited from Airespace, which it acquired early last year.\nUBC - which has since expanded to include another campus in Kelowna, B.C. - is also now using the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Wireless Services Module (WiSM) to converge its wireless and wired networks.\n\u201cWe\u2019re seeing lower costs to converge deployment of wired and wireless services to each building,\u201d Hay says. For example, she says the university - which participates in Cisco\u2019s beta programs - saved about $10,000 last fall in network management costs using the pre-release WiSM to configure networks in a new building with about 400 wired ports.\nAP installation is faster and easier, she says. Previously, field technicians would assign an IP address to each AP, configure each for which channels to use for communication and management, and configure a Service Set Identifier (SSID) number.\n\u201cThey'd do all that manually, then physically go to the location, install the AP and test for client-to-AP and AP-to-network connectivity,\u201d Hay explains. \u201cIf the wrong IP address was assigned or an AP had to move to a different building, it would have to be physically reconfigured with the right IP address.\u201d\nNow the WiSM handles the automated configuration of the APs centrally. Configuration templates can be pushed to multiple APs at once, she explains, and UBC schedules automatic firmware upgrades at particular times.\nThe WiSM blade is aware of all APs and which client is connected to which AP. \u201cSo when a client moves, it is tracked through the WiSM and doesn\u2019t have to re-authenticate, allowing roaming across the whole campus,\u201d Hay says.\nUBC also recently began deploying the Cisco Wireless Controller System (WCS) \u201cfor being able to get a much better overview of RF issues,\u201d such as rogue device discovery and finding where signals aren\u2019t working well, Hay says.\nUBC had been using Cisco\u2019s previous management alternative - the Wireless LAN Solutions Engine, or WLSE. \u201cBut it wasn\u2019t suitable for field techs and front-line personnel; it was too cumbersome,\u201d she notes.