It's budget time and as such I've been playing with several demos of Cisco products trying to figure out what is worth fighting for and what isn't. While budgeting for SmartNet renewals I discovered that my Wireless Control System (WCS) software was EoS next February. WCS has been one of those applications that "just works", so I haven't really worried about replacing it before.
Knowing now that WCS needed replaced I went out to Cisco to figure out what the replacement was. Cisco is migrating WCS customers to Cisco Prime Network Control System (Prime is their overall branding for all things network management). The number one difference with NCS is that it has the ability to show both wired and wireless clients on the network in one tool. For the most part the interface is the same as WCS, but it has been polished a bit with fancy new graphics.
The real surprise for me was that Cisco Prime NCS is bundled with Cisco Prime Lan Management Solution (LMS). My first thought was that Cisco has had too much trouble selling CiscoWorks LMS so they just renamed it. I have been pleasantly surprised. Prime LMS is not your father's CiscoWorks. The web interface is clean and for the most part easy to use like NCS or WCS. Every so often you can see that the GUI designers ran back to the mothership as CiscoWorks-esque screens do still pop up in some areas.
Overall I've been impressed with both my demo of Cisco Prime NCS and Cisco Prime LMS. My one complaint is the size of the VMWare appliance. I have a relatively small network so I have chosen to use the "small" appliance version of both applications. If I chose to thick provision both appliances, the combination would have been almost 512GB. Now I realize that disk is "cheap" on laptops and such, but for Enterprise storage on a SAN, that's quite a chunk of change. Surely for a network under 50 switches and 200 APs, the applications don't need that much space. Maybe Cisco needs a ultra small tier too?