A common question our teams are asked when attending Cisco events or other multi-vendor unified comms events such as Enterprise Connect is; what's the difference between the Cisco Prime Collaboration tool and IR's solutions? 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.
This blog is all about differentiating unified communications monitoring and troubleshooting solutions But before we get to the main differences let's examine the individual features set of each solution, the information and analytics it provides, and define how each system works.
What is Cisco Prime Collaboration?
Cisco Prime Collaboration is the overarching name for a suite of solutions designed to monitor Cisco UC products. The product subsets include:
Cisco Prime Collaboration Assurance
Cisco Prime Infrastructure
Cisco Prime for IT
Cisco Prime for Service Providers
Cisco Prime for Cloud.
Cisco Prime Collaboration provides automated, accelerated provisioning, real-time monitoring, proactive troubleshooting, and long-term trending and analytics in one integrated product. Through an intuitive user interface, Cisco Prime delivers a premier 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 troubleshooting and long-term information relating to trending and analytics.
What are IR's solutions for UC?
IR's solutions are designed to deliver analytics, monitor and troubleshoot a variety of different industry specific products. IR's solutions focus on unified communications, contact centers, payments, and infrastructure, however today for comparison purposes, we'll be talking about our solutions for unified communications and collaboration tools. IR's solutions are a performance management tool that allows customers to monitor and troubleshoot performance of their entire multi-vendor UC system. IR's solutions provide comprehensive, far reaching monitoring and troubleshooting analytics and information on the performance of multiple vendor and hybrid UC ecosystems. As a third party monitoring tool, IR's solutions let you see outside your Cisco network boundary. You get the complete picture, and this means you can trace user experience along its entire journey.
Cisco Prime vs IR
Cisco Prime is a one-vendor solution, IR's solutions are a multi-vendor monitoring tool
Cisco Prime Collaboration, as the name suggests, provides analytics and monitoring for Cisco networks only and does not support any other vendors. So if you have Cisco Prime Collaboration solutions deployed for 65% of your UC seats, Avaya for 20% and Microsoft Skype for Business for the remainder then Cisco Prime Collaboration can only monitor the Cisco seats. This leaves you with the dilemma of how to monitor the performance of your other vendors.
IR's solutions are completely vendor agnostic and can monitor and troubleshoot all your UC seats regardless of vendor. You can use one monitoring tool to proactively manage, monitor, troubleshoot and optimize the performance of all your unified communications and deliver the best user experience across all platforms at once.
Also, Cisco Prime monitoring tools don't give you any insight into the issues users experience when they access your applications from different locations - and remote offices that don't have on-site IT support are often faced with problems. But you can use a third-party monitoring tool like IR's to measure performance from every endpoint.
Cisco Prime is for one part of a UC ecosystem, IR's solutions are for the entire UC ecosystem
From start to finish Cisco Prime collaboration operates from its own perspective. It's created for Cisco Prime collaboration provisioning only - so if you are looking to just service Cisco products, that's where Prime fits.
Unified communications is much more complex than Cisco. It's more far reaching than simply multiple vendors too. The entire 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 bring all these pieces together and combines them with advanced network troubleshooting and 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.
Cisco Prime Runs Reports, IR's solutions deliver Insights
Cisco Prime is fantastic for running reports on all sorts of call metrics and performance charts for various Cisco UC management and collaboration products. However, it can be difficult to slice and dice the data being pulled out. As well as reports and analytics information, Cisco Prime Collaboration provisioning prepares and equips a network to allow it to provide its own new services to its users. It can give its users access to data repositories, or grant authorizations to systems, network applications and databases etc.
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 in separate monitoring tools.
Understanding the performance users receive is critical to business success, particularly now that many organizations are using the cloud to support mission-critical production systems. Without comprehensive insights, the metrics you have are only part of the story—and incomplete information leads to bad decisions.
IR's solutions help 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 an Independent Solution
The benefit of having a monitoring tool designed by the same company, is that all the intelligence of the product itself is usually carried into the analytics tool. 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 ecosystem 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. While there are other smaller differences between Cisco Prime Collaboration and IR's solutions, we wanted to capture the key features and differences between both solutions.
All UC infrastructures and environments are different. The number of vendors, end users, systems, processes and applications you need to monitor, varies from organization to enterprise. With a complex UC environment, you need a comprehensive, all-encompassing monitoring tool that provides customization, high-level reporting and end-to-end visibility. IR gathers information and analytics that allows proactive and predictive troubleshooting across every vendor system and application.
UC management with specialty tools supports higher ROI
Relying solely on UV vendor provided tools can be detrimental to your company's bottom line. 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, according to a Nemertes Research study of more than 625 end-user organizations.
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. Given the demonstrable cost savings and differentiation in spending on third party management tools by successful organizations, the quantifiable benefits are clear in terms of lower costs and greater overall ROI for UC spend.
Whether you're using a Cisco system by itself, or as part of a hybrid UC environment, your priority is to keep everything up and running 24/7. IR's solutions support Cisco IP communications for enterprises, branches, service providers and in the cloud.
So, if you're looking to just monitor Cisco UC , Cisco Prime Collaboration is probably the tool for you - but if you're looking to monitor and troubleshoot multiple vendors and the end-to-end conversation across the entire UC environment IR's solutions are what you need.
Features or IR's solutions
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. The benefits are many, and include:
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, from the network to the endpoints.
Real-time alerts and notifications
Proactive alerting puts you in control, allowing you to be aware sooner, respond faster and resolve UC performance issues 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.
How do your end-users really feel about your collaboration investment? Download the UCC Survey Report to find out more.