Cisco ACS vs ISE Comparison

Rashmi Bhardwaj | Blog,Security

Cisco ACS and ISE

Before understanding how Cisco ACS vs ISE comparison can help you become more informative to make the right decision, it is imperative to understand what these two Cisco products are all about.

The application of Cisco ISE and ACS plays an indispensable part in the security, network access and third party integration in today’s network communication framework. For network administrators and IT resources engaged in networking and cyber security related deliverable, this article will help understand the differences between Cisco ISE (Identity Service Engine) and Cisco Secure ACS (Access Control Server).



Cisco ISE or Identity Services Engine is a form of network administration product enabling the building and enforcement of the security and the access policies for the end-point devices that are linked with the switches and routers of the organization. The main objective of Cisco ISE framework is to simplify the practice of identity management across various applications and devices. Infact, Cisco ISE integrates with Cisco new ACI environment in terms of both policy and data plane. Cisco ISE has Radius (like ACS) functions in addition NAC feature set. The approach Cisco has followed is to fade away ACS and all the services are being migrated to ISE framework. ISE is not just limited to services of ACS (AAA services), additionally it is responsible for posture assessment and profiling of a device and validates whether the endpoint meets requirements of an organization policy.


Cisco ACS or Access Control Server is a form of AAA (authentication, authorization and accounting) platform enabling the user to centrally manage the access to the network resources. It helps a range of devices and user groups in reaching the resources of the network. The best part of Cisco ACS is that it can work with different types of remote network access devices in order to enforce the applicable access policies. A key limitation with is that it does not have third party profiles and even though third party devices may likely work, the integration of various components becomes cumbersome and not an easy job. Further, ACS is unable to render detailed device visibility with ability to identify, mitigate, and remediate threats. Cisco ISE scores over these parameters in comparison to ACS.

Evaluating Cisco ACS vs ISE

Below table enumerates difference between Cisco ISE and Cisco ACS –


Hope this Cisco ACS vs ISE comparison was informative and helped you get insight on topic of discussion.


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