Today's networks have become increasingly complex with multivendor environments, multitechnology requirements, and multiservice domains. Constant introduction of new devices into the network, as well as updates to existing devices, presents challenges to service providers who need to bring these devices under management quickly and seamlessly. They need an innovative approach to device driver management that minimizes impact to network operations and service delivery.
The Cisco Prime
™ Network virtual network element (VNE) device driver helps service providers meet this requirement. It is a key enabler for Cisco Prime Network to manage evolved programmable networks (EPNs), separating device information from high-level applications to promote high adaptability.
It achieves this by discovering the physical inventory and logical configuration of the managed devices, and translates this information into detailed software representations of the devices. This forms the basis for all further device and network management functionality.
Cisco Prime Network VNE device drivers support a wide range of Cisco
® and non-Cisco physical and virtual devices that may be deployed across access, aggregation, edge, and core network domains and data centers.
Features and Benefits
Cisco Prime Network VNE offers the following benefits:
• Investment protection through timely updates that support device upgrades without the need to modify or upgrade the network management system (Cisco Prime Network).
• Reduced costs through multivendor support that allows Cisco Prime Network to manage heterogeneous networks with minor customization.
• Improved operational efficiency and reduced costs and dependency on professional services through rapid user extensibility.
Cisco Prime Network VNE provides the following features:
• Discovery of physical inventory and logical configuration of managed devices using simple network management protocol (SNMP), command-line interface (CLI), and Extensible Markup Language (XML).
• Device health and change monitoring through periodical polling and interpretation of autonomous event messages, such as SNMP notifications and syslog messages sent by the devices.
• An innovative and scalable approach to manage non-Cisco devices through third-party device drivers.
• User extensibility through the Cisco Prime Network VNE Customization Builder (VCB) to manage hardware modules, device types, events, and device software versions separately from ongoing VNE driver updates.
• Timely updates within 30 days of Cisco device availability.
Detailed Features and Benefits
Table 1 provides details on the features and benefits of Cisco Prime Network VNE drivers.
Table 1. Key Features and Benefits of Cisco Prime Network VNE Drivers
VNE drivers are instantiated at run time for each managed device so that synchronization with the network and device autodiscovery can be done in parallel.
Improved efficiency through automation
Distributed VNE driver instances for large-scale networks
The VNE driver instances can be distributed among multiple Cisco Prime Network unit servers to help enable Cisco Prime Network to manage large-scale carrier-class networks. They can also be redistributed among multiple unit servers for load balancing to optimize memory usage.
Improved scalability through distributed architecture and optimization techniques
Automatic synchronizations of device status are based on configuration change notifications from the network. VNE drivers also support adjustable periodic and manual synchronization of device status, providing an up-to-date view of the network in Cisco Prime Network with minimal impact.
Improved efficiency through automation
Independent driver releases
Individual VNE drivers can be updated without the need to upgrade or change Cisco Prime Network software.
Investment protection through timely updates
Cisco VNE drivers are extensible to manage additional device types, hardware plug-in modules, additional SNMP traps imported through Management Information Base (MIB) files, and syslogs. These extensions can be performed by customers or by the system integrator local to the Cisco Prime Network installation without affecting Cisco Prime Network.
Reduced costs through flexible extension options
A generic VNE
The generic VNE driver is the default driver for discovering any unrecognized device and monitoring standard SNMP traps using standard MIB II interfaces. The IP interfaces and routing and bridge information are also discovered.
Simplified operations through default representations for unknown devices
User-defined VNE drivers
User-defined VNE drivers can be created at run time to manage additional device series. In addition to the generic VNE capability of standard SNMP MIBs and traps, they are extensible using the Cisco Prime Network customization tool (VCB) to further discover and activate devices.
Reduced costs through flexible customization options
Cisco DevNet and the Cisco DevNet Partner Program provides individual developers, partners, system integrators, and customers a virtual community forum to learn and share, including examples of using VCB to perform field extensions to device drivers.
Improved efficiency through collaborations in communities
Physical inventory and logical configuration
Cisco VNE drivers retrieve comprehensive information from devices about the chassis, shelf, common components (for example, fan and power supply), line cards, interfaces, and software image inventory. In addition, detailed and logical configuration information, such as Ethernet switching, virtual local area network (VLAN), IP routing, IP/MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching), Pseudowire, MPLS Traffic Engineering, and many other device feature configurations can also be retrieved, including statically defined or dynamically established configurations.
Improved efficiency through effective representations of network information
Multiprotocol Label Switching Transport Profile (MPLS-TP) support
Cisco VNE drivers support MPLS-TP, which unifies both packet and transport technologies, giving service providers a strong foundation for the convergence of packet and transport networks.
Reduced costs through support for converged technologies
For service providers with multivendor network environments, Cisco Prime Network offers VNE drivers to manage third-party devices. For non-Cisco devices not supported by a Cisco Prime Network third-party VNE driver, Cisco Prime Network offers two VNE alternatives:
• A "generic VNE" that uses standard MIB system and interface data to create a baseline model of any network element that supports SNMP
• Extensible and user-defined VNE drivers with generic templates created by customers for specific non-Cisco device types
Cisco Advanced Services (AS) routinely provides expert support for either of these approaches and further customization.
A side-by-side comparison of the options for Cisco and third-party device management is provided in Table 2.
Table 2. Cisco Prime Network Cisco and Third-Party Device Management Options
Features and Functionalities
VNE for Cisco Devices
VNE for Third-Party Devices
User-Defined VNE with Generic Template (Note 2)
Generic VNE (Note 1)
Model for IP and Ethernet topology, logical attributes for routing table, Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), and bridge using standard SNMP MIB
Standard SNMP traps monitoring
User extensibility with Cisco Prime Network toolkit
Physical inventory discovery using device-specific MIB
Layer 2/Layer 3 logical inventory and topology discovery using device-specific MIB
Note 3, Note 6
Support for device-specific SNMP traps and syslogs per customer specifications
Change and configuration management
Compatibility with Cisco Prime Network update releases
Support for service requests of device OS and management interface changes that affect device inventory discovery and event monitoring
Field extensions for additional physical inventory, events, and device maintenance upgrades
Activation script using Command Builder
1. The generic VNE is not customizable. It is the default for any device not recognized by Cisco Prime Network.
2. The user-defined generic VNE is created using the Cisco Prime Network VCB generic template at run time.
3. The feature is contingent on device configuration and instrumentation available in customer's lab devices.
4. Field extensions can be performed by customers, a systems integrator (SI) or Cisco AS. For example, soft properties can be added using VCB and other extensions can be scripted using Command Builder.
5. Activation is typically handled by Command Builder and performed by customers, an SI or Cisco AS.
6. Layer 2: Ethernet, VLAN, Dot1Q, QinQ, EtherChannel, Link Aggregation, POS, ATM, IMA, FR, PPP, DSL, VPLS, Local Switching, LLDP; Layer 3: IP and Routing, MPLS, LDP, MPLS-TE, VRF, RSVP-TE, MP-BGP, OSPF, PW, GRE, BFD; not all Cisco Prime Network advanced features will be supported for Cisco Prime Network third-party VNEs. For example, the following are not included: image management, configuration archive restore, event correlation, impact analysis, and service activation.
Table 3 provides a list of Cisco device series managed by Cisco Prime Network using VNE device drivers.
Table 3. Cisco Device Series Managed by Cisco Prime Network Using Cisco Prime Network VNE Device Drivers1
Physical and Virtual Devices
Cisco Cable Modem Termination Systems (CMTSs)
Cisco uBR Universal Broadband Routers, including:
• Cisco uBR7200 Series
• Cisco uBR10000 Series
Cisco Data Center
Cisco UCS® 61xx Series Switches
Cisco UCS C Series Rack Mount Servers
Cisco Optical Transport
Cisco Carrier Packet Transport (CPT) Series, including:
The Cisco Prime portfolio of IT and service provider management offerings empowers organizations to more effectively manage their networks and the services they deliver. Built on a service-centered foundation, Cisco Prime supports integrated lifecycle management through an intuitive workflow-oriented user experience - providing A-to-Z management for EPNs, mobility, video, cloud, and managed services.
A Right-to-Manage license for each Cisco device managed by Cisco Prime Network is required. The device series and device type will determine the appropriate Right-to-Manage license.