How to switch between FortiGate and FortiWLC as controller for Fortinet FAP-U series access points

Fortinet has for long time had a series of Wireless Access Points which can be managed via FortiGate firewalls.

After acquiring Meru Networks few years back, they also have a line of Wireless Access Points which are managed via FortiWLC controller (formerly Meru wireless controller).

With the introduction of FAP-U series access points, customers now have the option to manage these AP-s either from FortiWLC or from FortiGate. By using FortiWLC you can utilize the Single-Channel architecture from Meru. But if you want to deploy the classical multi-cell WiFi architecture, then you can do it with either the FortiWLC or with FortiGate. There are practical scenarios where it might make more sense to control the AP-s from FortiGate.

Here I describe how to change the AP management from FortiWLC to FortiGate:

  • As a preparation, make sure you have configured the FortiGate interface, which has L2 direct connection to the AP, with Security Fabric Connection (checkmark on interface), and enabled WiFi Controller feature under System > Feature Visibility
  • Connect to FortiWLC via SSH
  • Display a list of connected AP-s:
    show ap
  • Note the AP ID for the AP you want to move to FortiGate (first column on the left)
  • Connect to the AP (id 37 in my example):
    connect ap 37
  • Next you need to switch the AP from Meru boot image to Fortinet boot image
  • Show available options regarding Boot image:
    bootimg ?
  • Now switch to the Fortinet Primary boot image. The AP will reboot immediately:
    bootimg imageid 3
  • Next log in to FortiGate and authorize the AP under Wifi & Switch Controller > Managed FortiAPs.
  • Next create and apply the appropriate FortiAP Profiles
I hope you find this guide useful and it saves you some time.

If you have any questions or need advice or services regarding Fortinet Wireless solutions, then we at BRS Networks Baltic are always here to help!
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Vahur Jõesalu
Juhataja
17.02.2021