Communications Blog • 12 MIN READ

Cisco Prime Collaboration vs. IR Collaborate for UC Monitoring tool

Cisco Prime Collaboration Assurance and Analytics (PCA) has been the monitoring and diagnostics tool of choice for many users of Cisco Unified Communications, Cisco TelePresence®, and the underlying network infrastructure.

But now Cisco has announced end-of-sale and end-of-life dates for PCA, a common question our teams are asked when attending Cisco events or other multi-vendor unified comms events is; can IR's solutions support the Cisco Prime infrastructure and replace the Cisco Prime monitoring tool?

Figure 1 - Prime Infrastructure EoL timeline

IR is long-standing strategic Cisco partner, and since we became part of Cisco SolutionsPlus, the question has become more frequent, especially from Cisco sellers and partners.

The answer is a resounding definitely!

Current Cisco PCA customers can continue to use the solution until 31 October 2024. Beyond this date, they will need to migrate and utilize another collaboration management solution.

In this blog, we'll compare the differences between the Cisco Prime monitoring solution and IR Collaborate functionalities, and how these solutions impact your Cisco Prime infrastructure.


What is Cisco Prime Collaboration? 

While Cisco Prime Collaboration is the collective name for a suite of solutions designed to monitor Cisco UC products, in this blog we'll talk primarily about Cisco Prime Infrastructure. Prime Collaboration includes the subsets:

Cisco Prime Collaboration Assurance

Cisco Prime Infrastructure

Cisco Prime for IT

Cisco Prime for Service Providers

Cisco Prime for Cloud.

Cisco Prime Collaboration is a diagnostic tool that provides automated, accelerated provisioning, real-time monitoring, proactive troubleshooting, and long-term trending and analytics in one integrated product.

Through an intuitive user interface, the Prime infrastructure tools deliver an operations experience through optimized operator methodology. This includes automated workflows that ease implementation and ongoing administration.

It's a comprehensive, unified management solution for Cisco voice and video networks, providing automated provisioning, simplified monitoring and compliance management, and long-term information relating to trending and analytics.

Cisco Extensive Product reach

What are IR's solutions for UC? 

As well as supporting the Cisco Prime infrastructure, IR's solutions are designed to deliver analytics, monitor and troubleshoot a wide variety of different industry specific products.

IR's Collaborate suite of solutions focus on unified communications, contact centers, payments, and infrastructure.

Collaborate is a suite of performance management tools that allows customers to monitor and troubleshoot their entire multi-vendor UC system, not just Cisco devices but all network devices and applications. 

IR's solutions provide comprehensive, far reaching monitoring and troubleshooting analytics and information on the performance of multiple vendor and hybrid UC ecosystems from a single convenient dashboard. 

As a third party monitoring solution, IR's Collaborate lets you see outside your Cisco network boundary. You get the complete picture, and this means you can trace user experience throughout your entire Cisco Prime infrastructure and beyond.

Cisco Prime is a one-vendor solution, IR's solutions are a multi-vendor monitoring solution 

Cisco Prime Collaboration provides analytics and monitoring for Cisco networks only, and does not support any other vendors.

So if you have a Cisco Prime infrastructure for 65% of your UC seats, Avaya for 20% and Microsoft for the remainder then Cisco Prime Collaboration can only monitor the Cisco seats.

This leaves you with the dilemma of how to monitor change, provisioning, compliance management, and assurance of devices, such as device health and interoperability for your other vendors, from a single platform.

IR's solutions are completely vendor agnostic and can monitor and troubleshoot all your UC seats regardless of vendor. You can use one monitoring solution to proactively customize, manage, monitor, troubleshoot and optimize the performance of all your unified communications and deliver the best user experience across all platforms at once.  

Additionally, Cisco Prime monitoring tools don't provide details or insight into the issues users experience when they access a device, or applications from different locations.

With many organizations working remotely, offices that don't have on-site and remote IT support are often faced with problems. But you can use third-party monitoring tools like IR's to measure performance from every endpoint.

Cisco Prime is for the Cisco Prime infrastructure; IR's solutions are for your entire UC ecosystem

From start to finish Cisco Prime collaboration operates from its own perspective. It's created for Cisco Prime collaboration provisioning and the Prime infrastructure only. This works if your entire UC ecosystem consists of a Cisco Prime infrastructure.

Cisco Management

Today's unified communications environments are much more complex than Cisco.

A UC ecosystem encapsulates session border controllers (SBCs) beyond Cisco UBE such as AudioCodes, Oracle, and Sonus, network systems, hardware such as servers and endpoints, software and much more.

IR's solutions add value by bringing all these pieces together and combining them with the ability to troubleshoot, and gather diagnostics information to not only monitor and highlight performance and problems, but to quickly identify the root cause of system glitches and how to fix them.  

Find out more about third-party monitoring tools; read our blog

Choosing between third-party and vendor monitoring tools

Cisco Prime runs reports, IR's solutions deliver insights 

Once configured, Cisco Prime can run reports on all sorts of call metrics and performance charts for various Cisco UC management and collaboration devices, products and applications.

However, it can be difficult to slice and dice (analyze) the data being pulled out. As well as reporting and analytics information, Cisco Prime Collaboration provisioning prepares and equips a network to allow it to provide its own new services within the Cisco IOS to its users.

One of the features of IR's solutions is that it specializes in helping customers gain insights and information from the data they are looking at through customized dashboards, threshold alerts, deep dive analytics and multiple reports stitched together in the one place.

In effect, IR provides a single pane of glass to view mission critical data from multiple vendors and platforms, rather than having to deploy separate monitoring tools.  

Now that many organizations are using the cloud to support mission-critical production systems, comprehensive insights through data analytics are vital. The metrics you have are only part of the story, and incomplete information leads to bad decisions.

IR's solutions are pro-active, helping you determine if problems are due to configuration issues, insufficient resources, bandwidth or server hitches.

Cisco Prime is a dependent solution, IR's solutions are independent

A monitoring solution designed by Cisco for the Cisco IOS, means that all the intelligence of the product itself is usually carried into the analytics tool when you configure it.  However, information gathered is developed for, and relevant to its own products.

IR's solutions were developed independently. With deep vendor visibility, they can often help to highlight issues common across many vendors, or unique to vendors outside the Cisco Prime infrastructure elements.  

Cisco Prime is an add-on, IR's solutions are our core business  

Prime Collaboration was developed to assist with basic troubleshooting and reporting requirements that Cisco customers experience and want. It's not the core focus of their collaboration solutions or product direction but it was developed alongside it.  

Monitoring and troubleshooting is core to IR's business. It's fundamental to how and why IR's solutions are a far more comprehensive end-to-end solution for monitoring and troubleshooting complicated UC environments for enterprises and service providers. 

All UC infrastructures and environments are different, but the ability to see clearly how all your UC elements perform within a multi-vendor environment is vital.

The number of vendors, end users, systems, processes and applications you need to monitor, varies from organization to enterprise. With a complex UC environment, having a comprehensive, all-encompassing monitoring tool enabled allows you to create a seamless, efficient UC ecosystem.

IR gathers information and analytics that allows proactive and predictive troubleshooting not just within your Cisco Prime infrastructure, but across every vendor system and application. Our tools are easy to navigate, and provide customization, high-level reporting and end-to-end visibility.

UC management with specialty tools supports higher ROI

Relying solely on UC vendor provided tools can be detrimental to your company's bottom line.

According to a Nemertes Research study of more than 625 end-user organizations, companies that integrated specialty tools like IR's solutions for administration and performance management saw around 28% operational and administrative cost savings - compared to companies that relied solely on vendor-provided management capabilities.

Additionally, companies with the highest ROI for their UC investments spent 97% more on performance management and 49% more on administrative management tools than those with low ROI, according to the study.

Whether your system is comprised of a Cisco Prime infrastructure system alone, or as part of a hybrid UC environment, your priority is to keep everything up and running 24/7, and from any location.

The utilization of a world-class network monitoring solution like IR Collaborate will support Cisco IP communications for enterprises, branches, service providers and in the cloud.

IR Collaborate features

In summary, comprehensive analytics are crucial to keep your entire network up and running 24/7. The intuitive features of IR's solutions for UC and collaboration make it an invaluable tool for every organization with multi-vendor networking platforms and the benefits are many.

Deep troubleshooting

Quickly identify the root-cause, reduce time to resolution, and minimize user impact. Get granular data, analysis and historical information so you can diagnose problems at all levels and endpoints, from devices and applications to network issues.

Real-time alerts and notifications

Proactive alerting puts you in control, allowing you to be aware sooner, respond faster and resolve UC performance issues and device health before they become customer facing.

Customizable visualization and dashboards

Gain insight into data across network layers, routers, session border controllers over multi-vendor technologies, and applications, presented in the way that makes the most sense for you and your team.

Insight across multi-vendor, multi-technology environments

Monitor all aspects of your UC environment for calls and meetings, as well as interactions across network paths, hardware, SBCs, CTI, PBX, web services, applications and entire multi-vendor ecosystems.

IR Collaborate puts you and your Cisco Prime infrastructure on the same monitoring page, providing comprehensive experience management and optimization for Cisco voice, video, contact centers (CC) and Webex Meetings to ensure a flawless and productive user experience.


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For more insights into how IR Collaborate can help you manage your Cisco environment, watch our webinar.

Topics: Communications Cisco

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