Our wireless network is slowly showing its age, and is starting to become problematic in areas of our building. At the moment it is made up from 37 Cisco 1200 series access points which are all indipendantly configured to create site wide coverage. This includes adjusting the transmitter power and setting the channel numbers manually to avoid where possible interfearance. I've now had enough of chasing problems around the building, and I need a re-think on how to solve these on going problems.
Obviously Cisco make controllers for their access points, so hopefully someone with slightly better knowledge of Cisco hardware can tell me if it's possible to get a controller which will let me manage the 1200 series access points properly, as I know these are fairly old now so it might not be possible to get hardware to support them any more. I know this will be fairly expensive, but it's probably cheaper to buy a controller for what we already have than investing in a whole new network (which we can't do at the moment anyway as we are only 18 months away from our new building and they don't want to make big investments like this if possible)
We have the 4400 series controller to manage all our APs. It does all you want in terms of AP management automatically. There is a firmware version that will allow you to convert your APs to lightweight versions - this pretty much does away with any local config and the controller does everything.
Like Steve we have a Cisco 4402 supports 50 APs, cost us about £6500 in 2009. Once set up does everything we want it to do. Absolutely rock solid never goes wrong. Just make sure your 1200 APs support the downgrade to the lightweight version some of the old B only type do not. Out of 32 APs we had 3 that would not downgrade so twe set them up to work independently. Usually I don't advocate Cisco as they are often too expensive but in this case well worth it.
If I was shopping for a brand new solution I probably wouldn't consider Cisco as they are expensive, but as we already have the APs, it makes sense to keep that infrastructure and just get a proper controller for them to make my life easier. A quick google suggests I can get a 4402 controller for around £4000 so it seems like a good interim solution if I can get the spending agreed.