Tech Corner

Product Comparison: AIR-CT 2504 vs. AIR-CT 3504 Wireless Controllers

The Cisco Wireless LAN can help reduce your risk of hackers or malicious users gaining access to critical network resources. The two controllers we are highlighting today enable system-wide wireless functions in small to medium-sized enterprises and branch offices. Control can be maintained throughout the whole organization by lightweight wireless access points from the controller and changes can be applied within minutes if need be. They're designed for 802.11n and 802.11ac performance, and the controllers can simultaneously act as data-serving devices and IDS sensors.

air-ct2504 air-ct3504 cisco wireless controller

Today, we are diving back into the 2504 and 3504 Wireless LAN Controllers. Though, 2504 is no longer sold directly by Cisco the support for this controller until 2023. Don't let these dates get in the way of you achieving your goal. Let OneCall, PivIT's maintenance offering, cover your 2504 or 3504 devices. Connect with our team to see if this would be a good fit for your network.

Below, we'll give a high-level overview of each controller and place them side-by-side to see which fits best in your network! Let's dive in.

Cisco 2504 Wireless LAN Controller

The Cisco 2504 Wireless Controller supports Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC), the technology that includes Cisco’s Network-Based Application Recognition 2 (NBAR-2) engine. N-BAR-2 does deep packet inspection (DPI) to classify applications and tie into quality of service (QoS) to either drop or mark the traffic, thereby prioritizing business-critical applications in the network. Cisco AVC uses NetFlow Version 9 to export the flows to CiscoPrimeInfrastructure or to a third-party NetFlow Collector. The Cisco 2504 Wireless Controller also supports Bonjour Services Directory, which enables Bonjour (Apple) Services to be advertised and utilized in a separate Layer 3 network. Wireless Policy engine is a wireless profiler and policy feature on the Cisco 2500 Series Wireless Controller that enables profiling of wireless devices and enforcement of policies such as VLAN assignment, QoS, ACL, and time-of-day-based access. Cisco 2504 AIR-CT2504-5-K9 5 Access Points Wireless ...


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Enterprise Wireless Mesh

  • Allows access points to dynamically establish wireless connections without the need for a physical connection to the wired network
  • Available on select Cisco Aironet access points, Enterprise Wireless Mesh is ideal for warehouses, manufacturing floors, shopping centers, and any other location where extending a wired connection may prove difficult or aesthetically unappealing


  • Supports corporate wireless service for mobile and remote workers with secure wired tunnels to the Cisco Aironet®600, 1130, 1140 or 3500 Series Access Points
  • Extends the corporate network to remote locations with minimal setup and maintenance requirements
  • Improves productivity and collaboration at remote site locations
  • Separate service set identifier(SSID) tunnels allow both corporate and personal Internet access
  • Reduced overall carbon dioxide emissions from a decrease in commuting

PCI Integration and End-to-End Voice

The 2504 Wireless Controller is Part of Payment Card Industry (PCI) certified architecture and is well-suited for retail customers who deploy transactional data applications such as scanners and kiosks. It supports Unified Communications for improved collaboration through messaging, presence, and conferencing. The controller also supports all Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phones for cost-effective, real-time voice services.

Cisco 3504 Wireless LAN Controller

Optimized for 802.11ac Wave 2 performance, the 3504 Wireless Controller is compact, highly scalable, and flexible enabling next-generation wireless networks. This controller fits best in small to medium-sized enterprises along with branch office deployments. The 3504 is a versatile controller with support for centralized, distributed, and mesh deployments to be used at different places. Cisco 3504 IEEE 802.11ac Wireless LAN Controller ...

Cisco DNA SD-Access, Analytics, and Assurance

The 3504's SD-Access Wireless is Cisco’s next-generation architecture for enterprise networks. It is the industry’s first policy-based automation from the edge to the cloud. It enables network access in minutes for any user or device to any application without compromising on security. 

Along with the SD-Access, the 3504 has Cisco DNA Analytics and Assurance offering comprehensive network visibility. It collects data from users, devices, and applications to proactively identify problems. Network analytics and automation help IT quickly resolve issues, so you can increase availability and deliver a better user experience.

Fault Tolerance and High Availability

  • Sub-second access point and client failover for uninterrupted application availability
  • Redundant 1 Gigabit Ethernet or Cisco Multigigabit Ethernet (up to 5 Gigabit Ethernet) connectivity
  • Solid-state device-based storage—no moving parts


Cisco 2504 and 3504 WLC Benefits Comparison

Feature 2504 3504
Scalability & Performance

Supports up to 75 APs and 1000 Clients

Wired-network speed and non-blocking performance for 802.11n and 802.11ac networks.

Supports up to 1 Gbps throughput.

Supports up to 150 APs and 3000 Clients

1x Multigigabit Ethernet interface (up to 5 GigabitEthernet), + 4x 1 Gigabit Ethernet

Supports up to 4-Gbps throughput, 4096 VLANs

RF Management Provides both real-time and historical information about RF interference impacting network performance across controllers.

That of the 2504 & proactively identifies and mitigates signal interference for better performance.

Comprehensive End-to-End Security Offers CAPWAP-compliant Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) encryption to help ensure full-line-rate encryption between access points and controllers across remote WAN/LAN links. Offers Control and Provisioning of Wireless Access Points (CAPWAP)-compliant Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) encryption on the control plane.
High-Performance Video Integrates Cisco VideoStream technology as part of the Cisco MediaNet framework. Cisco VideoStream technology optimizes the delivery of video applications across the WLAN
Ease of Deployment For quick and easy deployment Access Points can be connected directly to the controller via two PoE (Power over Ethernet) ports For quick and easy deployment, access points can be connected directly to the controller via two Power Over Ethernet (PoE) ports


Wireless Controller Features and Benefits

The Cisco 3504 and 2504 Wireless Controller with Cisco Multigigabit Ethernet technology is optimized for 802.11ac Wave 2 performance, high scale, and enhanced system uptime.

They offer:

  • Intent-driven programmability and streaming telemetry. Quiet operation, with a small form factor and compact design-- ideal for space-constrained deployments, providing flexibility without compromising on features.
  • Cisco Multigigabit Ethernet technology to support next-generation 802.11ac Wave 2 deployments using existing cabling infrastructure.
  • Sub-second access point and client failover for uninterrupted application availability.
  • Extraordinary visibility into application traffic, using Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC), the technology that includes the Network-Based Application Recognition 2 (NBAR2) engine, with Cisco's Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) capability. This allows the 3504 to mark, prioritize, and block to conserve network bandwidth and enhance security. Customers have the option to export the flow to Cisco Prime Infrastructure or any third-party Net Flow collector.
  • An embedded wireless Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) classification engine that allows the classification of client devices and application of user group policies.
  • Guest access and Bonjour and Chrome cast services in centralized deployments.
  • Software-defined segmentation with Cisco Trust Sec technology, reducing Access Control List (ACL) maintenance, complexity, and overhead.
  • Integrated Cisco Clean Air technology, providing the industry’s only self-healing and self-optimizing wireless network.
  • A simplified GUI wizard for quick setup and intuitive dashboards for monitoring and troubleshooting.
  • Cisco DNA and SD-Access Wireless, as well as Cisco DNA Assurance.

About PivIT Global

Here at PivIT Global we want to help you find the right infrastructure to best set your business up for success. We have a team ready to answer any questions or to chat more on the Cisco Wireless Controllers to suit your needs! Need to get in touch quicker than a phone call? No worries, leave a quick comment below.

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