Cisco merges Wi-Fi mgmt interfaces

Adds unifying management layer to WCS, MSE, NAC, other systems

Cisco is taking strides to automate service provisioning, security and access control across mobile devices with a more integrated management suite that will eventually usurp the company's Wireless Control System (WCS) platform.

Cisco Prime Network Control System (NCS), scheduled to be available in June, is a Wi-Fi component of Cisco Prime for Enterprise, a set of integrated network management modules announced today that Cisco says converges user and access management of wired and wireless networks.

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NCS will integrate what are currently separate interfaces for the WCS, Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE) location appliance, Cisco LAN Management System (LMS) and Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) appliance, says Greg Beach, director of product management in Cisco's wireless networking business unit.

The announcement comes about a month after Cisco competitor Aruba Networks announced that it, too, was smashing down wired and wireless management silos with its Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture.

Cisco's Beach describes NCS as an "evolution of WCS. We're moving from box management to focusing on end points and [having] one inventory for wired and wireless clients," he says.

That said, however, the company's new Identity Services Engine (ISE), intended to allow centralized, cross-domain policy setting and enforcement, remains a separate platform from NCS, he acknowledges.

Beach describes NCS as being focused on endpoint visibility and troubleshooting to get users back on line as soon as possible. Policy setting and configuration, however, require a separate log-on to the ISE, he says. ISE collapses access control and network admission control (NAC) functions.

NCS will cost $14,995 plus licensing, and the ISE will be $9,900 plus licensing based on number of end points, Beach says.

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