These are my thoughts of Cisco monitoring “software”. Just a heads up, all my thoughts are bad. I’ve been “using” (enduring?) Cisco software for quite some time now. There is a very good reason any network engineer worth their salt uses the command line and not the provided tools, they do terrible things to your configuration. But while software like the Security Device Manager (SDM) is bad and has been replaced by the slightly less bad Cisco Configuration Professional, there is a special place in purgatory reserved for Cisco LAN Management Suite (LMS).

I could rant about it for some time but I think I’ll just show you a horrifying picture instead.

Look at the size of the menus!

Everyone likes all their reports in one giant menu, right?

You maybe thinking to yourself, “what is that thing?!?”. Well that is a menu from the LMS web console. That’s right, a menu! There are more of them, a lot more. Even some of those menu options have other menu items in them! It is a user interface nightmare. I spent weeks inside that console and still kept forgetting which menu I should have been in to get what I wanted.

Now the user interface would be at least partially tolerable if it weren’t for the fact that the software is a dog to run. A simple IOS software upgrade (which really looked to me to be an automated SSH login running the archive command) ended in a stuck job in the job scheduling system that will, apparently, never go away. The Cisco response to the issue was, “perhaps it will disappear in time?”. Very reassuring.

I guess I can’t be to hard on them. LMS is in the process of being merged in with the Network Control System (NCS) which monitors and manages wireless networks. NCS has its own set of issues but it is miles ahead of LMS. The new combined product is called Cisco Prime Infrastructure and if you have active software maintenance it is a free software upgrade.

Just a word of caution on Prime Infrastructure 1.2, not all features are implemented from LMS. When I went through Prime Infrastructure it looked to tick all the important boxes, IOS upgrades, Configuration Management and Monitoring however it turns out the monitoring is quite limited. There is no ability to monitor interface utilisation! Sounds pretty basic and there is even a tick box called “Auto Monitoring” but the option just unticks itself. The current recommendation is to run LMS on the side to perform any functions that Prime cannot. However my experience with the LMS reporting engine is that it is pretty “bleh” and I’d recommend you just use Cacti or some other SNMP poller to perform the missing functions. Less trouble and far more flexible.