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What is Cisco Prime Infrastructure

What is Cisco Prime Infrastructure

Hitesh J

Nowadays, IT network management organizations are facing new challenges as many digital businesses are gaining momentum. The advancement of mobile devices, video collaborations, and more is increasing the demand for a higher level of service and end-user experience. Old network topologies are no more meeting the growing demand for modern communication services. Therefore, it is the right time for IT organizations to invest in dynamic network transformations, focus on the Quality of Service (QoS), lower operational expenses, and maintain business continuity.

Overview of Cisco Prime Infrastructure

Cisco Prime Infrastructure is a trusted network management tool that addresses these challenges for both wired and wireless devices. They offer a comprehensive solution to maintain, operate, and deliver service for lifecycle management, application visibility, and network service assurance.

It is one of the best tools for IT organizations to monitor and assess their network and devices. Cisco Prime Infrastructure accelerates businesses to roll out new services, track and access devices in a more secure way. Right from updating clients about your brand to network control, Cisco Prime Infrastructure simplifies management operations and makes sure to deliver a better end-user experience. Also, integrating the tool with Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) covers other security and policy-related issues.

Cisco Prime Infrastructure has a modular structure offering two graphical user interfaces to deploy and make operations simple and more cost-effective.

  • Lifecycle view
  • Classic View

CISCO's Simplified Lifecycle Management

The primary purpose of Cisco Prime Infrastructure is to simplify and automate tasks about the maintenance and management of network infrastructure. In addition, it works with a strategy to improve the customer experience and drive more returns. This single solution provides user access visibility, troubleshooting, reporting, wireless capabilities for RF along with inventory, configuration, integrated best practices, compliance reporting, image management, and other network infrastructure lifecycle functions.

Based on these lifecycle processes, we have highlighted the jobs and functions of the network operators in this section:

  • Design To improve network services, you require creating proper plans, templates, and configurations that will help track network resources, devices, and other attributes. Automate the tasks essential to use Cisco validated designs which will further provide reliable and comprehensive wired and wireless network assurance. Look for default templates, assess, plan and use the best practice designs for implementation.
  • Deploy This section includes configuration and monitoring of design templates created in the last stage. Deployment reduces the chances of errors and accelerates the service rollout and network change implementations. Additionally, it provides advanced flows to deploy similar configurations as a group and make the device functions and operations perform faster. As a result, the Cisco Prime Infrastructure deployment stage helps minimize IT operational expenses and monitor device health.
  • Operate Once the device deploys monitoring templates, it helps collect all the data, processes it, and displays it on the dashboards. Dashboards provide features like one-click workflows and 360-degree views to help monitor and inform the network’s overall health. It also helps improve troubleshooting. You no longer have to invest extra time to resolve network issues-notifications and alerts on the display screen guide on the actionable information. Further, you can access the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) to open service requests automatically.
  • Report You have access to gain predefined reports with updated information about the network. The reports include data associated with inventory, capacity, end-of-sale, audit, compliance, security vulnerabilities, and more.

Additionally, it includes more tasks such as:

  • Creating Backups
  • Software Images Administration
  • Inventory
  • Configuration of hardware, filters, and incidents

Cisco Prime Infrastructure provides a 360-degree experience that makes it easier for the network managers to empower their networks and the services these networks deliver. Using the tool management capabilities in operational monitoring and functioning will provide a multidimensional view of applications, users, and various networks. Further, the 360-degree experience of Cisco Prime Infrastructure works as a benefit for the network managers to help identify, solve problems faster, fewer issues, and improve their response as per business requirements.

This graphical user interface helps enhance application delivery and end-user experience. It is used as a rich source for performance and delivering network-wide visibility embedded with industry-standard technologies, including NetFlow, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Application Visibility and Control (AVC), Network-Based Application Recognition (NBAR2), Performance Agent, Medianet, and Cisco instrumentation. It provides end-user experience and insights into network and application performance. Thus, making it better for users to minimize instrumentation configuration and complex data collection. Also, integrating the network management tool with Cisco Prime Network Analysis Module (NAM) provides deeper analysis and troubleshooting to solve problems faster.

Features and Capabilities of Cisco Prime Infrastructure

Cisco Prime Infrastructure is a leading tool available to simplify and automate maintenance and management of tasks. Have a look at some of the best features and capabilities that the tool offers while taking advantage of your Cisco networks.

  • One Management Solution Cisco Prime Infrastructure covers all solutions, including lifecycle management, application visibility, control for both wired and wireless devices. On integrating with Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE), it provides policy monitoring and troubleshooting solutions. Similarly, integration with Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE) results in location-based tracking of various mobility systems. The centralized management tool makes it easier for the administrators to manage the network, system, applications, and users from one location.
  • Consolidate Products Cisco Prime Infrastructure allows the management of consolidated products to reduce extra use of tools for network management. In addition, this network management tool offers more visibility, control, faster deployment, and troubleshooting services. With the help of Cisco Prime Infrastructure, you can save time and focus on other disciplines in a business and transform via innovation.
  • Mobile Collaboration This feature helps simplify managing wireless infrastructure to solve problems quickly with limited available resources. The tool also supports correlated wired-wireless client visibility, Radio Frequency prediction tools, spatial maps, and more to simplify network management.
  • Enable Simple and Fast Intelligent WAN Management Cisco Prime Infrastructure provides unique guided workflows depending on its best practice for Intelligent WAN management and Converged Access. This feature helps take the simple management process to the next higher level. The role of the workflows is to make new branch rollouts faster and simple to use, right from installation of devices to automatic management and monitoring of these devices and services.
  • Expansion of Management to the Data Center Apart from the advanced features, Cisco Prime Infrastructure also provides FCAPS (Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance, and Security) management solutions with 360-degree views of Cisco Nexus switches and Cisco Unified Computing System Series B Blade and Series C Rack Servers. Therefore, it is vital to monitor and manage the data center effectively with Cisco Prime Infrastructure for service assurance.
  • Device and Technology Packs Device Packs reduce gaps in management operations at the time of troubleshooting or service availability. Also, they provide support for the launch of new devices or software releases. Technology Packs add new features in the software releases. Furthermore, the tool helps accelerate time to value devices for high-demand functions.
  • Scalability Many organizations distribute network management using a domain, region, or a specific country. However, the Cisco Prime Infrastructure Operations Center allows visualization for up to 10 instances. It helps scale your management infrastructure and maintain centralized visibility and control system for better end-user connectivity.
  • Regulatory and Risk Compliance The risk compliance and auditing features and capabilities present in the Cisco Prime Infrastructure help many IT organizations track and assess their network and associated devices. They also comprise Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), inventory auditing, reporting risk vulnerabilities, and other capabilities against Cisco advisories.
  • Reduces Operational Expenses This scalable solution works great as it helps network managers to minimize their operational costs, especially in the case of service availability and troubleshooting. It also allows scaling up to 13,000 devices, including wireless controllers, autonomous access points, routers, and switches.

Cisco Prime Infrastructure Task Areas

As discussed earlier, the Cisco Prime Infrastructure tool supports a lifecycle management workflow that involves many task areas. Have a look at a few.

  1. Dashboard The Network Operators and Engineers use dashboards to get insights, check alerts or errors, quick views on devices and their performance and incidents.
  2. Monitor The monitor tab is operated by Network Engineers, Designers, and Architects to track the network regularly and perform daily operations associated with the network device inventory and configuration management. It includes dashboards and other tools that help in better monitoring, maintenance, troubleshooting, and performing operations.
  3. Configuration In Lifecycle Management, you create configuration templates and device patterns in the design section. Network Engineers, Designers, and Architects use existing templates, create a unique pattern, or design mobility services and Plug and Play profiles to track network resources and devices. These designs are further used in the deployment stage.
  4. Inventory The Network Engineers, NOC Operators, and Service Operators add and configure devices, manage software images and audit the configuration changes made on the device and other attributes under this task.
  5. Maps Under this task, the Network Engineers, NOC Operators, and Service Operators can easily monitor or view the topologies of a network and wireless maps.
  6. Services Network Engineers, NOC Operators, and Service Operators access mobility services and follow-up with Application Visibility and Control services.
  7. Report Service and NOC Operators create reports along with Network Engineers. They can view existing or saved report templates and schedules as per the business requirement.
  8. Administration Network Engineers can update on the data collection and system configuration settings. Further, they help in managing access control, licenses and perform software updates. In this task area, one can view, approve jobs and specify rules.

These are a few essential tasks performed by the network management tool. Many Cisco Systems customers use this Network Management solution to control a company’s IT infrastructure. There are many benefits of using Cisco Prime Infrastructure, such as:

  • Intuitive configuration
  • 360-degree experience and visualization of different data
  • Options to customize dashboard or interface profiles
  • Cisco Prime Infrastructure is straightforward and easy to use
  • Supports numerous Cisco Systems devices

Final Thoughts

Before the launch of modern tools like Cisco Prime Infrastructure, network administrators faced many challenges in visibility and monitoring the network infrastructure. The experts had to manually analyze each network device to identify the error and locate the issue. It turned out to be one of the biggest challenges IT departments were facing. But with the advancement of such tools in the market, IT departments now have more options and time to focus on other business issues. Also, Cisco Prime Infrastructure came out as one of the best ways to offload the burden. This robust and comprehensive management platform helps the administrators to view and control networks, devices, and attributes from a central location. The network management tool simplifies and automates tasks for both wired and wireless devices. Furthermore, the tool helps with device monitoring, overview application performance, and fault reporting. As a result, the tool aids your networking team in maintaining its performance.

Keep in mind to access all the features of the Cisco Prime Infrastructure, and you need to purchase a base license, such as the assurance or the lifecycle license. If you have installed the product for the first time, you will have access to the default in-built evaluation license valid only for 60 days for 100 devices. The affordable network management tool provides user access visibility, troubleshooting, reporting, wireless capabilities, configuration, compliance reporting, image management, and more functions. It has a centralized management system that helps administrators to easily view and manage enterprise networks from one branch to the data center. Further, you can easily add and run discovery, import devices from other sources, export device information, create groups, and more to simplify monitoring, management, and configuration of other similar devices with Cisco Prime Infrastructure. It is one of the best network management tools that are highly advantageous to IT organizations and provide end-user experience.

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