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Network management tools from Cisco offer admins MDM for BYOD

New Cisco Systems network management tools and Identity Services Engine updates give IT pros a way to manage BYOD using network infrastructure.

Cisco updated its Identity Services Engine policy manager this week and unveiled two new network management tools to help IT pros support BYOD policies.

The updates and new software let IT pros manage bring your own device (BYOD) policy from the network infrastructure. This gives Cisco Systems, Inc. customers an advantage because they can now use network management tools to monitor networks, set access control policy and initiate mobile device management (MDM) from a single source, said Terry Flanagan, a partner at Chicago-based IT management consulting firm Navint.

“The significant thing with what they are introducing is the scalability of it,” Flanagan said, noting that Cisco shops can now streamline network management and BYOD.

Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine recently replaced its homegrown network access system with Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE) to better manage devices and its guest access network, said Jason Lavoie, the IT networking manager.

One of the most useful features in ISE is the ability to secure and track guest network access, also allowing IT to control the duration of authentication, Lavoie said.

The latest version of ISE also delivers unified policy management across wired, wireless LAN, cellular and VPN access. IT defines ISE policies to manage devices and control endpoint access based on the device, users' roles, applications, and other features.

Cisco ISE updates

As part of the update to ISE, Cisco partnered with several MDM vendors, including AirWatch, Good Technology, Inc., MobileIron and Zenprise, to integrate those companies’ MDM software with ISE network management tools.

Cisco also updated its Unified Wireless Network Software, which claims to double multicast video scalability, enable a single Cisco controller to support 3,000 access points and 30,000 devices, and add Internet Protocol Version Six client support. The update also allows real-time video streaming in WebEx and Jabber. 

Cisco’s new software includes Prime Assurance Manager, which provides admins visibility into application performance across wired and wireless networks and endpoint devices. IT can also use Prime’s  network management tools to track users’ application performance, spot the location of a performance problem and quickly correct it, said Inbar Lasser-Raab, Cisco’s senior director for enterprise mobility and routing. In addition, Cisco’s Prime Infrastructure software offers infrastructure lifecycle management tools. 

ISE is just one of many network access control (NAC) software offerings that industry watchers say are important for helping IT assuage the strain BYOD puts on corporate networks. Other NAC vendors include Juniper Networks, Bradford Networks, Entersys Networks, Aruba Networks, Inc., and Sophos.

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The new Prime applications and update to Unified Wireless Network Software are available now. The update to ISE will be available this summer with the MDM integration out by the end of the year.

Updates to the new ISE and the Unified Wireless Network Software versions are included in existing service level agreements. The starting cost for Prime Infrastructure is $5,295 and Prime Assurance Manager is $7,028. Cisco says customers can work with their representative or partners for specific licensing details.

Let us know what you think about the story; email James Furbush or follow @slyoyster on Twitter.

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