802.1X Open VLAN mode

This section describes using the 802.1X Open VLAN mode to provide a path for clients that need to acquire 802.1X supplicant software before proceeding with the authentication process. The Open VLAN mode involves options for configuring unauthorized-client and authorized-client VLANs on ports configured as 802.1X authenticators.

Configuring the 802.1X Open VLAN mode on a port changes how the port responds when it detects a new client. In earlier releases, a "friendly" client computer not running 802.1X supplicant software could not be authenticated on a port protected by 802.1X access security. As a result, the port would become blocked and the client could not access the network. This prevented the client from:
  • Acquiring IP addressing from a DHCP server

  • Downloading the 802.1X supplicant software necessary for an authentication session

The 802.1X Open VLAN mode solves this problem by temporarily suspending the port's static VLAN memberships and placing the port in a designated Unauthorized-Client VLAN (sometimes termed a guest VLAN). In this state the client can proceed with initialization services, such as acquiring IP addressing and 802.1X client software, and starting the authentication process.


On ports configured to allow multiple sessions using 802.1X user-based access control, all clients must use the same untagged VLAN. On a given port where there are no currently active, authenticated clients, the first authenticated client determines the untagged VLAN in which the port operates for all subsequent, overlapping client sessions.

If the switch operates in an environment where some valid clients are not running 802.1X supplicant software and need to download it from your network. Then, because such clients would need to use the Unauthorized-Client VLAN and authenticated clients would be using a different VLAN (for security reasons), allowing multiple clients on an 802.1X port can result in blocking some or all clients needing to use the Unauthorized-Client VLAN.

On ports configured for port-based 802.1X access control, if multiple clients try to authenticate on the same port, the most recently authenticated client determines the untagged VLAN membership for that port. Clients that connect without trying to authenticate have access to the untagged VLAN membership that is currently assigned to the port.