Tech Corner

Battle of the Best Network Management Tool: Cisco Prime vs Fortinet FortiManager

Modern networks are continuously undergoing exponential growth owing to digitization, the ever-evolving market requirements, and business expansions. Modern businesses have their employees and customers spread across wide geographical regions. Such businesses require efficient network management solutions that would minimize the effort needed for tasks such as deployment and administration.

Modern networks are also grappling with evolved cyber threats. Recent studies prove that, currently, one of the main priorities of enterprises is to protect their networks from cyber breaches. Therefore, network management solutions need to provide enhanced security against such attacks.

To meet the efficiency and security requirements, enterprises should settle for secure, efficient, and cost-effective network management solutions. Two of the most popular network management tools are Cisco Prime Infrastructure and Fortinet FortiManager.

In this article, we will provide an in-depth description of both solutions and make a comparison between their main features.

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Cisco Prime Infrastructure Overview

Cisco Prime Infrastructure is a next-generation network management solution that provides a platform to provision, monitor, optimize, and troubleshoot both your wired, wireless, and virtual devices. All these management tasks are performed from a single point – the robust graphical interface.

The solution enables network administrators to manage the entire network lifecycle of campus, branch, and data center networks. The network lifecycle is divided into five major phases including design, deployment, operation, report, and administration.

The application’s graphical interface simplifies device deployment and operations and makes the tasks more cost-effective. The management platform includes a workflow-oriented user experience and is highly intuitive since it is designed to follow the network lifecycle. Furthermore, with this application, you can also automate your management tasks.

The web interface has a monitoring option that can be used to monitor both wired and wireless networks and connected devices. You can also perform inventory and configuration management using the interface. Inventory management includes tasks such as adding, running, and auditing configuration changes on devices.

Additionally, the services option on the interface can also be used to access important services such as application visibility and control services.

Finally, other network management tasks you can perform include specifying system configuration settings, managing access control, performing software updates, and configuring high availability.

Lifecycle, data center, and assurance benefits of Cisco Prime Infrastructure

Cisco Prime Infrastructure Features and Benefits

The section below includes a description of the main capabilities and benefits of Cisco Prime Infrastructure.


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One Management

One of the greatest advantages of Cisco Prime Infrastructure is the single point of management and control, commonly referred to as one management. This integrated solution enables wired and wireless lifecycle management and provides enhanced network visibility, which makes it easy to control the network. With this single solution, you can monitor and manage the network, all your devices, applications, and users on the same platform.

Additionally, the solution is equipped with Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) which gives you the ability to monitor and troubleshoot your network policies. The solution is also enhanced with the Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE) which enables location-based tracking of devices.

Product Consolidation

Another feature of the Cisco Prime Infrastructure is its ability to merge several management products. Management product integration not only reduces network complexity by decreasing the number of tools used but also helps to keep management costs low.

Data Center Management

Managing the data center is vital for the success of any enterprise since it plays a crucial role in service assurance. Cisco Prime Infrastructure solution is an excellent choice for data center management. It provides fault, configuration, accounting, performance, and security (FCAPS) management.

Faster Deployment

Cisco Prime Infrastructure also decreases the amount of time that it would take to get a branch or the data center up and running. Some versions of the Cisco Prime Infrastructure include workflows that you can use to configure new devices such as switches and Wireless LAN Controllers (WLC).

The Prime Infrastructure web interface has a design option where you can find suitable predefined design templates to use during the deployment phase of the lifecycle. You can also create new templates.

Moreover, Prime Infrastructure gives you the ability to design Plug and Play profiles. You can use the Plug and Play feature to enable new devices to be discovered and configured quickly.

Generally, with this solution, you can spend less time setting up your network and put more focus on transforming your business through innovation and differentiation instead.


Another benefit of using Prime Infrastructure is that it enables quick troubleshooting. The solution offers tools that are used in quick and efficient advanced diagnoses to identify and mitigate major issues by simulating traffic and testing endpoints and circuits. This feature also saves a lot of time.

Mobile Collaboration Management

Modern enterprises have networks that span wide geographical regions. They use their networks to communicate and collaborate. Cisco Prime Infrastructure offers a simple network management solution for such enterprises.

It supports 802.11ac, spatial maps, visibility, and radiofrequency prediction tools among others. With Prime Infrastructure, enterprises can make diagnostics and solve problems quickly while utilizing fewer network resources.

Fortinet FortiManager Overview

Statistics show that one of the primary concerns of modern enterprises is mitigating cyber threats. Studies conducted also prove that cyber-attacks are mainly caused by human errors, such as misconfigurations, and system glitches.

Fortinet’s FortiManager addresses the two primary causes of cyber breaches by providing a secure, centralized, and automated network management solution with enhanced visibility.

Enterprises that have their branches spread across a wide geographical area can benefit immensely from centralized management. Using FortiManager, such enterprises can configure devices on their network, backup their configurations, and change controls and policies from a single central console.

The key benefits of using FortiManager include decreased cyber risk, improved efficiency, and decreased Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

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Fortinet FortiManager integration within a network of Fortinet products

Fortinet FortiManager Features and Benefits

The following section describes the main features and benefits of Fortinet FortiManager.

Central Policy and Device Management

FortiManager is an integration of various management tools into one console, which provides the ability to manage up to 100,000 devices from a central location. Using this management solution, you can manage all Fortinet products including FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFW), FortiExtender, FortiAnalyzers, switches, and wireless infrastructure.

Fortinet FortiManager also includes Policy and Object views that assist in the management and configuration of policies from a central pane. It also consists of Restricted Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) profiles for admins. These profiles aid in the configuration of Multi-Chassis Link Aggregation Group (MC-LAG), and the upgrade and transition from dedicated Intrusion Prevention System solutions.

Visibility and Monitoring

FortiManager provides enhanced network visibility, which supports network management. Using the visibility feature, you can monitor and manage processes, policies, and the overall health of devices on the network. You can also access statistics of the network’s security and monitor topology information in real-time.

Cloud Capabilities

FortiManager cloud is a cloud-based network management tool that enables the central management of FortiGate devices. This Platform as a Service (PaaS) option also offers dynamic cloud security.

FortiManager cloud prioritizes network automation to decrease human errors and misconfigurations, which have been proven to be the most common factors that expose networks to cyber threats.

Network operators can access the SSO (Single Sign-On) portal to manage Fortinet NGFWs and Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN).


Automation is one of the most significant features of FortiManager. The application makes use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and scripts to automate common network tasks. You can automate workflows and the configuration of Fortinet devices such as switches, firewalls, and wireless infrastructure.

SD-WAN Management

SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture that has been gaining a lot of popularity for its ability to support multiple link options, enhance network visibility, and increase bandwidth capacity.

FortiManager possesses SD-WAN provisioning and monitoring features that allow secure SD-WAN management using a single console.


Fortinet offers network virtualization with the FortiManager Virtual Machine (VM), which is a software-based version of the FortiManager appliance. One of the greatest advantages of the FortiManager VM is its ability to run on multiple virtualization platforms. It is also flexible since it can scale with the environment.

The VM also automates monitoring and maintenance tasks. Task automation frees network operators to perform other revenue-generating tasks.

Enterprise-Grade High Availability

High availability is the ability of a system to provide services continuously without fail for a given period. It is crucial for customer satisfaction. With automated backups of a maximum of 5 nodes (1 primary and 4 secondaries), FortiManager ensures that there is excellent reliability, redundancy, data protection, and optimum operational performance.

Fortinet FortiManager Models and Specifications

There are five FortiManager models:

  • FortiManager 200G
  • FortiManager 400G
  • FortiManager 1000F
  • FortiManager 3000G
  • FortiManager 3700G

The table below shows a comparison of the model specifications:

FortiManager Model

Default Devices or Virtual Domains (VDOMs)

Add-On Devices or Virtual Domains (VDOMs)

Administrative Domains (ADOMs)

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Key Summary

In summary, the key features and benefits of Cisco Prime Infrastructure include:

  • One management
  • Product consolidation
  • Data center management
  • Faster deployment
  • Troubleshooting
  • Mobile collaboration management

On the other hand, the key features and benefits of Fortinet FortiManager include:

  • Central policy and device management
  • Visibility and monitoring
  • Cloud capabilities
  • Automation
  • SD-WAN management
  • Virtualization
  • Enterprise-grade high availability



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