This is an interesting approach to categorizing the wireless AP modes that are available. You’re doing it based on whether or not an AP terminates a CAPWAP tunnel. Whe you use the term “CAPWAP AP” it is somewhat ambiguous. I assume you mean an AP that terminates a CAPWAP tunnel AND serves wireless clients. You’ll see shortly why this distinction is important.
You are indeed correct that the Local Mode and the FlexConnect mode terminate CAPWAP tunnels, where the former sends both data and control traffic over the CAPWAP, while the FlexConnect sends only control traffic.
Also, the autonomous and EWC APs indeed don’t terminate CAPWAP tunnels (although the EWC does create CAPWAP tunnels as it plays the role of the WLC).
The approach you used is good, and it does clarify how and when a CAPWAP tunnel is used, however, it doesn’t cover all possibilities. There are other modes that use the CAPWAP tunnel, albeit somewhat more discreetly, and in a specialized manner. For example:
- Bridge mode - These APs use CAPWAP tunnels for control traffic to the WLC. Data traffic may be locally switched or sent through the controller based on the configuration.
- Monitor mode, rogue detector mode, and SE-connect mode - These are special modes that don’t serve wireless clients but are used for monitoring, security, and spectrum analysis. All three use CAPWAP tunnels to report back to the WLC.
So each of these modes leverages CAPWAP tunnels as well, for efficient management and control of wireless traffic between the APs and the WLC, although the specifics of what traffic is tunneled depends on the specific mode.
As for your final comment about the WLC, you are correct that:
However, the term WLC does not necessarily refer to the physical device (such as a 3504 WLC for example), but it refers to the software processes that operate as a WLC, regardless of what device or “box” those processes run in. Just like when we say “a DHCP server” and not “the device that serves the role of the DHCP server” even though a DHCP server can be a physical server, a PC, a switch, a router, a firewall, or a Raspberry Pi. Does that make sense?
I hope this has been helpful!