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Cisco Prime Replacement: Embrace Next-Gen for Network Management

by Mark Harris Jul 19, 2023

At the start of the year, Cisco made a significant announcement – Cisco Prime, their decade-old device aggregation solution, would be retired, and they would not provide any new functional updates. Organizations using Cisco Prime will now have to find a suitable replacement. Cisco Prime was originally intended to take the operational guesswork out of managing distributed campus topologies, essentially trying to make them all appear as a single service-delivery management domain. While it delivered some early results, it failed to offer compatibility with the vast majority of networking devices, including the vast majority of Cisco’s own product lines and even fewer third parties, failing completely to support the cloud and virtual infrastructures. . And even more disappointing for its early adopters, it focused primarily on maintaining simple device-centric connectivity rather than true multi-faceted service delivery.

Cisco Prime Replacement

Fast forward to today, network operation demands have evolved to an application service delivery focus, making a more modern replacement for Cisco Prime crucial. Managing the extensive inventory of multi-vendor components found in modern enterprises, including virtualized service and the cloud, has become a complex challenge, as nearly half of all computing in enterprises is now handled by various public clouds. However, the challenge is no longer just about one-and-done network deployment configuration; businesses now need to deliver IT infrastructure services with optimal performance for each application, while adhering to overall design and security architectures and compliance. And with typical Enterprises managing thousands of network service tickets per month, the selection of a replacement for Cisco Prime must be made carefully.

Cisco DNA Center: The Cisco Prime Replacement…Not Quite

While Cisco may suggest that the logical migration path from Cisco Prime is Cisco DNA Center, the landscape has changed significantly over the years, and DNA Center still primarily targets the original objective of Cisco Prime, leaving organizations to look for a more operationally impactful and vendor-agnostic solution.

Today’s NetOps teams have three common workflows that need to be addressed by any replacement:

  1. Simplifying and accelerating the remediation of trouble tickets. In a perfect world networks just work. In the real world, there are thousands of changes that occur, applications that are added or removed, and physical and virtual components that change in behaviors. Any chosen solution needs to deal with the long-term transformation of these manual tasks. It needs to acknowledge that most issues look like previously seen issues, so the means to resolve new occurances is one of scale and automation, not research and complexity.
  2. Managing Change. While the change management market is a crowded space, they all have one thing in common: They manage at the device level. They don’t have any understanding about services that run across devices, so while device change can be assured with those solutions, business service delivery is likely still elusive. Any replacement for Cisco Prime should have the ability to understand the actual goal of digital infrastructure and provide change management in the context of the delivered business services.
  3. Preventing outages and service degradations. Ironically this hugely important task typically has the lowest priority for NetOps teams. It’s because preventing outages is HARD, really hard! In order to do so, the replacement needs to understand what normal is, and then continuously verify the real-time network in comparison to the known good baseline. Any Cisco Prime replacement should be able to proactively do these benchmarks and comparisons continuously, to prevent service tickets from being generated in the first place.

What’s Needed is a Multi-Vendor Network Assurance and Automation Solution

NetBrain Next-Gen stands out as a reliable Cisco Prime replacement and alternative to Cisco DNA Center with its Intent-based network automation platform. In fact, it is the only network assurance automation solution that fully supports today’s cloud-connected, multi-vendor infrastructures, effectively delivering IT application services. NetBrain Next-Gen is the preferred Cisco Prime replacement and empowers organizations to create, manage, and enforce any number of service delivery business goals, known as “network intents,” at scale without code, ensuring a seamless Cisco Prime replacement process.