A Guide to On-Premises and Cloud-Based Cisco Networks

The Cisco Networking portfolio is an essential part of your IT support services. These networks can provide your company with the necessary efficiency, security, and productivity, so you can securely connect your team, customers, and assets.

What are the top on-prem Cisco networks?

In IT infrastructure, on-premises describes hardware and software that are hosted on-site. On-premise IT infrastructure and platforms support 38% of all workloads. It also helps 43% of enterprise workloads. These on-prem Cisco networks are dedicated, reliable, and private.

What are the top cloud-based Cisco networks?

Cloud-based Cisco networks describe a scenario where you host your IT assets at a remote data center or a public cloud platform. Cloud adoption is rising, with 85% of businesses expected to use a cloud-based application by 2025. Unfortunately, only 3% of companies have developed advanced cloud strategies. They need to take the necessary step to make these networks scalable and successful.

Here are a few of the top cloud-based Cisco networks:

  • ACI
  • Catalyst
  • CSR
  • Nexus


Cisco’s Catalyst switches offer network switches, wireless access points, and wireless network adapters. Your network devices should be compatible with these switches to ensure secure and consistent up-time. With the deployment of these Catalyst switches, you can inspire and drive digital transformation within your organization. Let’s consider what Catalyst is and what it does. 

What is it?

Catalyst offers a variety of network interfaces, including Ethernet switches. They also offer access points, wireless controllers, and wireless network adapters.

What does it do?

A Cisco Catalyst access switch combines wired and wireless connectivity, so you can enforce your security protocols and simplify network management. Catalyst switches help drive digital transformation by better controlling access and traffic.

Cisco’s Catalyst was designed primarily for campus networks’ core/distribution layers and is great for small businesses.  It’s also designed to handle more customizable, large-scale scenarios. For example, Cisco Campus LAN Catalyst switches are often used to create thorough network coverage, even in demanding hybrid environments.

You can filter by levels and handle loops in unmatched Syslog information. It is also possible to troubleshoot faults early by using detailed SNMP traps. This unit allows you to route as well as switch. The larger Catalyst switches combine high-speed routing with high-density ports.

More info on Cisco Catalyst:

ASA (Adaptive Security Appliance)

Cisco’s ASAs (adaptive security appliances) serve various security needs. Technology-driven businesses need ASA, so Cisco has spent time and money developing its ASA devices. Developed over the last 15 years, ASA solutions include basic firewall, VPN, and antivirus capabilities.

What is it?

Cisco’s ASA offers enterprise-class firewall capabilities for ASA devices in various form factors. You can tap into the antivirus, firewall, intrusion prevention, and virtual private networks. Additionally, ASA software delivers comprehensive security solutions. You can easily integrate with other critical security technologies to support better cybersecurity for data centers and corporate networks.

What does it do?

There is still a lot of use for Cisco ASA today. While it had some of the same features as PIX, the enterprise-class features make ASA solutions easier to use and understand for corporate users. You can use ASA as a proactive threat defense to stop network attacks before they spread through the network. They seamlessly integrate with other corporate security measures to deliver the next-level cybersecurity measures you need. 

Cisco ASA supports a highly secure remote access solution, so you can access data and network resources from any device on your corporate networks no matter where you are. It’s also widely used and supported. More than one million Cisco ASA security appliances are used in enterprise environments globally. 

More info on Cisco ASA:

ISR (Integrated Service Router)

Cisco is a market leader in the networking equipment market, with a wide range of routers and switches. Regardless of the size of your business, you’ll benefit from Cisco’s integrated services routers (ISRs). With the recent advancement in technology, ISR capabilities have become increasingly important. For military operations, in particular, accurate ISR data is crucial.

With Integrated Service Router (ISR) routers, you can connect your branch offices reliably and securely. You can also perform multimedia and mobile tasks with the ISRs. Here’s what it is and how it works.

What is it?

Cisco’s integrated services routers (ISRs) offer affordable, reliable branch office connectivity. ISRs enable cloud computing, mobile connectivity, multimedia performance, and secure networking. They’re powerful devices on a single platform.

ISRs allow you to access multiple clouds. They support advanced security and wireless capabilities. Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) from Cisco meet the high-performance standards you need. But they’re also easy to deploy, use, and manage. You can connect to the Metro Ethernet, Internet, and wireless LANs in a highly secure way.

What does it do?

Hardware calls an integrated service routine (ISR) when an interrupt occurs. ISRs examine those interrupts so you can determine how to handle them. Then, execute the handling and return the logical interrupt values. The ISR returns a value to the kernel when the interrupt is resolved.

ICM (Intelligent Contact Management)

Cisco’s unified communications products are built on unified ICM. The unified ICM (intelligent contact management) is an open standards-based solution. With intelligent routing and computer telephony integration (CTI), you can use the easy-to-use interface to manage your contacts. Here’s what it is and how it works. 

What is it?

Cisco’s Unified Intelligent Contact Management Platform enables the enterprise-wide coordination of your contacts across multiple channels and networks. It doesn’t matter where they’re located in relation to your contact center. 

You can route and manage inbound and outbound voice, web collaboration, e-mail, and chat. With Unified ICM, you can manage routing, queues, monitors, and faults using open standards. You can integrate network-to-desktop telephony, manage multi-channel contacts, and route contacts. With that level of integration and transparency, you can see how much easier it is to manage your contacts. 

What does it do?

Cisco’s Unified ICM supports the integration of voice applications with Internet applications. You and your team can access real-time chat. ICM supports a range of communication options, including email and other collaboration channels on the Web. A single team member can handle multiple interchanges simultaneously, so you can better support your staff and customers’ needs. With ICM, you can communicate more efficiently with your customers regardless of their preferred channel or platform. 

ITM allows you to pre-route contact center calls through your carriers’ intelligent networks so you can better monitor and adjust to accommodate your resource availability and activity levels. Then, you can use the data to compile a comprehensive profile for each customer and further segment and target those customers.


Meraki is part of Cisco’s networking services. It simplifies securing locations and optimizing IT experiences so you can more quickly and easily connect IoT. Cisco Meraki is the leader in cloud-controlled Wi-Fi, routing, and security. 

What is it?

You can manage all of Cisco’s Meraki network devices with the Meraki cloud solution. Meraki supports centralized management. The Meraki cloud solution offers a simple and secure way to manage all Meraki network devices.  

What does it do?

Cloud computing is the core of Meraki management solutions. Cisco’s Meraki devices support highly reliable multi-tenant servers. These servers are strategically distributed worldwide at Meraki data centers. Those data center servers consist of powerful computers which host dozens of separate user accounts.

Multi-tenant servers offer shared computing resources, making it easy to share equally among users. Meraki is committed to ensuring the security of your data through robust apps and insights. To ensure heightened security, Meraki restricts access based on account authentication.

More info on Cisco Meraki:


Originating in 2008, Cisco’s Nexus switches connect your servers to storage and network resources in support of your hybrid cloud network. Additionally, they eliminated the need for parallel storage or computational networks. Here’s what Nexus products are and what they do.

What is it?

Cisco’s Nexus products include enterprise mobility management (EMM) security and offers security cameras, switching, and wireless solutions. You can manage all of the Cisco Nexus products from across the cloud and data centers in one place.

What does it do?

Cisco’s Nexus switches provide software-defined networking (SDN) solutions. With the Nexus switches, you can connect and manage data center resources. 

UC (Unified Communications)

Cloud-based and on-premises UC solutions are available. Unified communication (UC) apps for businesses do not compromise security. UC supports the seamless integration of collaboration and communication tools.

What is it?

UC collaboration tools are used to support working together. Use IP telephony, videoconferencing, voice mail, or mobile collaboration with UC. You could also use desktop sharing and instant messaging.

What does it do?

You and your team can collaborate more effectively with Cisco’s unified communications solutions. That also means you can collaborate and access the UCS anywhere from any device. They use APIs to integrate messaging and chat with your phone system and conferencing solutions so you can better support real-time business communication.

More info on Cisco UC:

UCS (Unified Computing System)

Since 2009, Cisco Systems has been manufacturing its Unified Computing System (UCS). This consists of management software, server hardware, switching fabrics, and virtualization support. A Cisco UCS combines computing, networking, virtualization, and data storage components. 

What is it?

Unified Computing System (UCS) by Cisco Systems is a collection of products:

  • Computing hardware,
  • Virtualization support,
  • Switching fabric, and
  • Management software

Using these products, you can integrate a data center’s components into one scalable system.

What does it do?

You can create a more cost-effective and efficient solution to help enterprises monitor devices and automate operations, all while managing data. UCS supports a centrally managed data center architecture for your company. Cisco’s new UCS C-Series rack servers have set many world records in industry-standard benchmarks for integer and java server performance. With Cisco UCS servers, your workloads should run faster. Cisco boasts an 86% reduction in cabling, faster provisioning, and a 40% cost reduction.

More info on Cisco UCS:

UC Virtual Machines

Cisco’s UC Virtual Machines allow you to create new network services. You can also deploy them anywhere at any time. It’s fast and reliable, taking minutes instead of days. You can also scale your network services up or down quickly to match the demand of your customers and internal requirements. Let’s further consider what the UC virtual machines are and what they do. 

What is it?

A virtualized server (or virtualization host) shares network and storage hardware. They’re shareable between multiple application virtual machines (VMs). You run several operating systems with UC virtual machines on a single physical computer so you can save physical space, time, and money.

You can easily migrate to a new operating system while supporting legacy applications. The most critical advantage of  Cisco’s UC Virtual Machines is that you can better support disaster recovery.

What does it do?

A virtual network function (VNF) is a service that can be created and deployed automatically. You can then manage your infrastructure remotely. With UC virtual machines, you can scale and manage your resources to better accommodate your company’s changing needs both now and in the future.


More than 24,000 global organizations rely on Cisco Umbrella. It’s at the core of Cisco’s Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture. Here’s what it is and what it does. 

What is it?

With Cisco Umbrella, you can connect cloud access security brokers (CASBs) with firewalls. You can also access threat intelligence and web gateways to protect your organization.

Umbrella enables these connected solutions through a single, cloud-delivered service and dashboard. Doing so can significantly reduce the cost of deployment, configuration, and integration.

What does it do?

Cisco Umbrella protects your mobile users. You’re also able to improve incident response and expose Shadow IT. With Cisco Umbrella, you can deploy threat enforcement to protect your users no matter where they’re located.

Next step: select the right Cisco solutions

This guide to on-prem and cloud-based Cisco networks offer an overview of the tools you need to succeed. Cisco Networking portfolio offers all the solutions that will support your security, communications, and storage requirements. Explore these options and determine which will best sync with your business requirements.