A new Cisco network management strategy: Cisco Prime

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A new Cisco network management strategy: Cisco Prime

For all the criticism cisco solution Systems receives, the one place the company has truly stumbled has been in network management. So far, the Cisco network management strategy has centered on disappointing products like CiscoWorks, which for years has drawn the ire of otherwise loyal customers.

Now Cisco wants to flip the script on its network management legacy, this week launching Cisco Prime, an umbrella brand for both enterprise and service provider network management products that are application aware. Executives have plainly said they want customers to know that Cisco is a software company, and this network management strategy is a major element of that.

The Cisco Prime brand shifts away from the company's old device-centric view of network management, in favor of a "service-centric management framework," according to Sujai Hajela, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Enterprise and Commercial Management Business Unit.

"What happens today if someone is having a video conferencing session and there is some pixelization or jitter? [Engineers] go right to the infrastructure level and start looking at gigabytes and terabytes of data, trying to figure out where the user's call is on the network and what the problem is that they are experiencing," Hajela said.

But starting in the network and working one's way up into applications and services is no way to troubleshoot, he said. Instead, engineers need tools that allow them to start with an application or service-level view and work their way down to the network armed with more context for a problem.

"The applications, services and infrastructure— these layers know about the users. So if I use that as a handle and go inside the network, looking from the user down rather than the network up, it allows me to see that someone is having a problem and how that translates to Layer 3 and Layer 2 and go to the segment of the network where the problem is," he said.