Comparing Cisco ACS and Cisco ISE

Cisco Access Control Solutions
Comparing Cisco ACS and Cisco ISE

It is important to understand the identity and access management for the endpoint within the LAN infrastructure. we are come up with the two solutions from Cisco. Although one of the solution is basically the replacement of the other. Lets talk about why we need migration from old to new solution

What is Cisco ACS?

Cisco ACS (Access Control System) was a network access control solution developed by Cisco that provided authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) for network devices. It allowed network administrators to centrally manage and control user access to network resources, including routers, switches, and other devices.

With Cisco ACS, network administrators could set policies that determined who could access what resources, as well as what actions users were allowed to perform on those resources. It also provided detailed audit logs and reporting capabilities to track user activity and monitor compliance.

Cisco ACS supported the RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) and TACACS+ (Terminal Access Controller Access-Control System Plus) protocols, which were widely used in enterprise networks for authenticating users and devices.

What is Cisco ISE?

A next-generation identity and access control system, Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) provides greater scalability, flexibility, and policy administration. Context-aware security, Guest Access, Wireless LAN (WLAN) and wired 802.1X authentication, posture assessment, authorization policies, and device profiling are just a few of the many features that Cisco ISE offers.

By using customized guest portals, seamless device onboarding, and streamlined access to apps and services, Cisco ISE enables you to build rich user experiences. Cisco ISE also assists you in enforcing adherence to corporate security standards by giving you visibility into network users and devices. 

In order to offer a comprehensive end-to-end security solution, Cisco ISE also interfaces with well-known third-party security solutions.

Cisco ISE Deployment
Fig 1.1-Cisco ISE deployment

Understanding the Benefits of Moving from ACS to ISE ?

Although the policy engines in ACS 5.5+ and 
Cisco ISE 2.x are functionally comparable, there are a few key distinctions between ACS and Cisco ISE that need to be kept in mind in order to ensure a smooth and error-free migration. The following characteristics are employed in deployment solutions even though they are not explicitly related to the TACACS+ protocol.

⭐ Cisco ACS (Access Control System) and Cisco ISE(Identity Services Engine) are both network access control solutions developed by Cisco. Here are some of the key differences between the two:

⭐ Cisco ACS is a standalone product, while Cisco ISE is part of Cisco's Security Group Access (SGA) architecture. This means that Cisco ISE is more closely integrated with other Cisco security products, such as Cisco Firepower and Cisco Umbrella.

⭐ Cisco ACS is primarily a RADIUS/TACACS+ server, which provides authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) for network devices. Cisco ISE, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive solution that includes network access control (NAC), profiling, posture assessment, and guest access management.

Comparing ISE Vs ACS
Fig 1.2-Comparing ISE Vs ACS

⭐ Cisco ISE is designed to handle large-scale deployments, with support for up to 500,000 endpoints. Cisco ACS, on the other hand, is limited to a maximum of 20,000 endpoints.

⭐ Cisco ISE has a more modern and user-friendly web-based interface, which is easier to navigate and provides more detailed information than the Cisco ACS interface.

⭐ Cisco ISE provides more granular policy management capabilities, allowing administrators to create more complex policies that are based on user and device attributes.

⭐ Cisco ISE integrates with more third-party products, such as mobile device management (MDM) and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, than Cisco ACS.

⭐ Cisco ACS reached end-of-life (EOL) in 2016 and is no longer supported by Cisco. Customers are recommended to migrate to Cisco ISE for ongoing support and maintenance.

Comparing Cisco ACS and Cisco ISE
Fig 1.3-Comparing Cisco ACS and Cisco ISE


Cisco ISE offers more features and integration options than Cisco ACS, and is a more scalable solution. However, it also requires more expertise to deploy and maintain, and may be more complex to use. 

Cisco ACS, on the other hand, is a simpler solution that may be suitable for smaller organizations with less complex network access control requirements. However, it is no longer supported by Cisco, and users are recommended to migrate to Cisco ISE for ongoing support and maintenance.

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