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Evolution of Network Management:

The Drive for Comprehensive Solutions

In todays world of dynamic, virtualized, cloud-oriented IT, it seems that

there are few constants except change. This is certainly the case in the

upper layers of the stack, and all the while the network is expected to be

rock solid, high-performing, and absolutely 100% optimized so that the

New World order of agile IT can be delivered to expectations. And so the

gauntlet is laid at the feet of networking professionals to do everything

within their power to remove risk and ensure performance within the

network. Much of this work takes place in planning and architecture;

however, the true test comes when plans are put into action and live

production operations are underway.

The gauntlet is laid at

the feet of networking

professionals to do

everything within their

power to remove risk and

ensure performance.

Closing The Loop for Effective Network Operations Management:

Cisco Prime Assurance Manager

Executive Summary

Networks have never been more critical to the smooth flow of IT operations than they are today. Making

sure networks are both available and performing expectations is an absolute essential. Networking

pros have long turned to management tools and technology to help them with this, starting with

solutions that are used to deploy their networks and then often turning to a completely separate set of

tools that are used for monitoring them. But many are reevaluating such separation and looking for

solutions that can bring together these two sets of capabilities and a fully integrated manner, adding

performance and availability monitoring on top of device and network element management. Such

integration represents a path towards responsible, reliable assurance of the networks role and function

in serving the organization. This ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES® (EMA™) paper

reviews Prime Assurance Manager, a new integrated monitoring solution offered by Cisco Systems,

and assesses the ways in which it can be used to achieve true network assurance.

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EMA research indicates that raised expectations, in part driven by cloud and virtualization and the

frenetic pace of change they enable, are causing a resurgence in demand for better integration within

the network management tier. Though not everyone expects to find a silver bullet, multi-function

“unified” network management platforms are most preferred as a network management tools

architecture and strategy.

Such integration and consolidation can happen in multiple ways, but one of the most promising

involves bringing together what have previously been the separate worlds of element management and

network management. This applies to both the configuration/provisioning aspect of operations as

well as sustained monitoring. The better job network management tools do at bringing precise, detailed

element-level features and controls directly into top-down and cross-domain operational workflows,

the less effort is required by operations staff to get new infrastructure and services up and running

quickly and to keep them operating smoothly. Along the way, accuracy of efforts is improved as less

manual effort is required to transition between tools during normal task processes, eliminating a key

source of errors and improving the likelihood of getting it right the first time.

These efficiencies can quickly be translated into better responsiveness to business needs, faster

restoration of disrupted services, lower incident and problem rates, and improved opportunities for

proactively ensuring that the network the essential delivery infrastructure for all IT services plays

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©2012 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. | www.enterprisemanagement.com

Closing The Loop for Effective Network Operations Management:

Cisco Prime Assurance Manager

its essential role without interruption. In this sense, traditional network monitoring practices, which are

largely reactive in nature, can and must be transformed into network assurance practices, by bringing

together availability, performance, and change history data across the network and element levels, and

empowering engineers, managers, and operators to meet the high standards to which the network is

being held.

An excellent example of how an integrated network assurance approach can be of benefit is the

challenge in dealing with converging service technologies, such as the way that voice, video, and

application data must all share a common IP-based network delivery infrastructure. In such settings,

specific network design/configuration accommodations are required to make sure that voice and live,

interactive video conferencing traffic, which is highly sensitive to latency and packet loss, is delivered

with sufficient priority to ensure adequate end user quality of experience. Other traffic types, such

as streaming video, file transfers, web applications, etc., will commonly be traveling across the same

network links at the same time. Integrated network assurance approaches deliver a holistic view of all

such “netizens” so that operators can quickly recognize all simultaneous activity, recognize adverse

influences and interactions between applications, isolate likely root causes, and make informed

decisions about courses of corrective action. Further, close integration with device provisioning and

configuration functions shortens the time required to make necessary adjustments to restore service

levels following an interruption or degradation.

Ciscos Next Generation Solution: Prime Network Management

Cisco Systems is so well known for its networking solutions that few realize the company has been

working diligently over the past several years to build and offer an advanced suite of network and service

management solutions. Cisco’s Network Management Technology Group has brought forth a next

generation of management tools under the Cisco Prime banner which

have been completely redesigned, fully integrated, and fully modernized.

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as possible. This approach starts with a foundation of common network management technologies,

layers in features that leverage advanced Cisco capabilities and capitalizes on Cisco’s unparalleled

technical knowledge base, and ultimately delivers expansive visibility coupled with rapid access to

relevant controls.

Cisco’s Prime product initiative represents substantial evolutionary thinking and advancement versus

the prior portfolio of management tools. In particular, a standard user interface has been applied

across every element in the suite, eliminating learning curves and the need to change approaches

when moving from one set of functions to the next. Further, all consoles and dashboards have been

redesigned to reflect a task-oriented paradigm, focusing on Design, Deployment, and Operations

activities. The result is that consoles can now support multiple Prime products in a truly seamless

manner, to the point that it becomes nearly impossible to tell where one products features end and the

next picks up.

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©2012 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. | www.enterprisemanagement.com

The objective of the Cisco Prime initiative is to empower networking

professionals to more effectively manage both their networks as well as

the services that those networks are intended to deliver. Further, Cisco

has sought to take full advantage by the advanced capabilities offered

by their network infrastructure solutions, allowing those who adopt and

deploy the technology to capture its full value as easily and efficiently

Cisco has brought forth

a next generation of

management tools under

the Cisco Prime banner.





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