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The Journey to LMS 4.0

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Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

I guess is was a little over a year ago talk about the next major release of LMS began to surface.  The switching teams (Cat6K, Cat3K, etc.) were unleashing powerful new features to the market such as EnergyWise, Auto Smart Ports, TrustSec, and Smart Install; and they needed a tool that could provision and monitor these features.  The initial idea was to develop a new tool from scratch with power, simplicity, and usability in mind.  The thing was, CiscoWorks LMS already had a lot of tried and true components that laid solid groundwork for managing these features.  So instead of building yet another management tool, LMS was going to get a makeover.

While LMS had the power and flexibility needed for these advanced features, it needed a usability boost.  The first thing that needed to happen was the lines between the LMS applications had to go away.  LMS needed to become a more seamless management platform.  So, the old familiar names like Resource Manager Essentials, Campus Manager, and Device Fault Manager were replaced with Inventory, Config and Image Management; Network Topology, Layer 2 Services and User Tracking; and Fault Management.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 6.51.01 PM.png

The application-oriented paradigm was changed to me more task and user-oriented.  That is, if you need to view the configuration for a device, you navigate to Configuration > Configuration Archive > Views > Version Tree in the new "Mega Menu."  The Mega Menu is an ever-present navigation bar at the top of the screen that provides you access to all of LMS with very few clicks.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 6.44.12 PM.png

For those of you that liked the old LMS 3.2 navigation (hey, I don't blame you), a legacy menu is there to help you find your way.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 6.47.47 PM.png

Plus, once you find the screen you want, the "breadcrumbs" will show you the way to get back there using the Mega Menu.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 6.48.26 PM.png


Another usability addition to LMS is the global search interface.  This ever-present search box lets you find devices, users, jobs, and tasks no matter where you are in LMS.  If you can't remember where something lives in LMS 4.0, just do a quick search for part of the task name.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 6.55.24 PM.png

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 6.56.03 PM.pngScreen shot 2010-08-28 at 6.56.08 PM.png

While usability was a big focus for LMS 4.0, it wasn't the only focus.  LMS 4.0 is quicker to install and setup that 3.2.  The installation uses more of a batch approach to first install all of the bits to disk, then perform the necessary configuration tasks.  Once installed, LMS presents you with a Getting Started workflow that walks you through each step from adding SMTP information, to discovering your devices.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 7.11.56 PM.png

In LMS 3.2, performance management came from the Health and Utilization Monitor (HUM) add-on.  In LMS 4.0, performance management is included out of the box.  In fact, LMS 4.0 monitors many performance and reachability metrics automatically.  The new Monitoring dashboard provides a great NOC-friendly view into the health and performance of your network.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 7.02.44 PM.png

As I said in the introduction, the original idea behind LMS 4.0 was to manage cutting edge switching features.  LMS 4.0 does this in a big way using new Work Centers.  Each Work Center is dedicated to one of the switching features (EnergyWise, Auto Smart Ports, Identity, and Smart Install).  The Work Centers provide monitoring, provisioning, and reporting capabilities for each feature.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 7.17.32 PM.png

One of the most popular features in LMS is Netconfig.  Netconfig has always offered a number of templates to simplify configuration tasks for a large number of devices.  LMS 4.0 takes Netconfig to a whole new level with a new configuration template wizard.  The Netconfig you know and love is still there in LMS 4.0, but  on top of that, teams within Cisco put together some templates based on leading practices that allow for much more flexible feature configuration.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 7.22.15 PM.png

Hint: Stay tuned to this feature as things are going to get a lot more exciting once LMS 4.0 is released.

A lot of users are moving to CiscoSecure ACS 5.x.  If they happened to integrating LMS 3.2 with ACS, they quickly find that this feature is no longer supported in ACS 5.x.  Not to worry.  LMS 4.0 provides built-in role-based access control.  That's right, you can now create custom roles and limit device access without ACS.  Sure, you can still use ACS (even ACS 5.x) for authentication, but LMS 4.0 gives you a very flexible RBAC authorization model out of the box.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 7.26.46 PM.png

While these features are nice, there are two features that I personally really like.  The first is the dynamic new dashboards.  These screens really use the Web 2.0 framework to provide a high level of interactivity.  For example, remember LMS 3.2's tabular views?  The text would often times wr

ap in

we

ird wa

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Ugh.  LMS 4.0 has dynamically resizable columns that allow to view all of the text on one line.  The other nice thing about these dashboards is the device info pop-up.  If I mouse-over device names, I get a pop-up that tells me about the device, and can take me to Device Center, CiscoView, show my syslogs, etc.  This is very cool.  It just feels intuitive.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 7.32.44 PM.png

The other feature I like is more geeky.  And, yes, I wrote it.  Being in TAC, we often saw problems where LMS daemons would lock up, and we would need to process thread dumps.  This was fairly tricky to do on Windows.  Now in LMS 4.0, there is built-in support for easily getting thread dumps from any of the LMS Java processes.  Just run:

pdmsg DAEMON:tdump

For a given LMS DAEMON name, et voilà, your thread dump will be waiting for you.  This makes any problems with LMS much easier to troubleshoot.

I really think LMS 4.0 is going to be a great product, but if you're an LMS old-timer like me, you may need to take some time to get used to the new UI.  Once I did, I really found it easier to use, and I was able to more quickly navigate around to different tasks.  While I tried to highlight a number of the new features of LMS 4.0, I didn't get to them all.  As the release date approaches, more material will be posted to Cisco.com to whet your whistle.

LMS 4.0 was an exciting journey from idea to wire-frame mock-ups to release.  Okay, the journey's not over yet.  We will be releasing LMS 4.0 in late September of this year.  Why the wait?  We want to make sure we do it right.  While you wait, if you have any questions about LMS 4.0, contact ask-lms-team@cisco.com, or comment here, and I'll make sure your feedback makes it to the right people.

36 Comments

Hi Joe,

Is there any information available as to the hardware and OS requirements?

-David

Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

The specific requirements have not been finalized.  We are working to spell out things such as CPU clock speeds.  Performance testing has shown LMS 4.0 will benefit from specific CPU speeds as well as low-latency I/O.  What I can say now is that LMS 4.0 will require a bit more horsepower than LMS 3.2.  Once we have finalized the hardware specifics, the LMS 4.0 data sheet will be published to Cisco.com.

Hall of Fame Master

Thanks for the post Joe. Two questions come to mind:

1. Is there a new projected release date? You had posted earlier this summer that late August was the target.

2. How will licensing work for customers currently under support with their LMS 3.2 installations?

Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

I mention the new release date at the end of the blog post.  We are targeting late September.

LMS 4.0 is going to be a new product, so you will need to purchase a new license.  I have heard a discount plan will be in place, but you should wait for the official announcement for more details there.

Hall of Fame Master

Ah OK, thanks. I had missed the date at the end.

The upgrade path is disappointing. I've wrestled with LMS 3.x with limited success for some time. (I was more of a fan of LMS 2.6, the old CiscoWorks 2000 and even older CiscoWorks "Classic") I've never thought that DCR as a concept really worked the way it should from a customer perspective. Now Cisco says in effect "wait wait we got it right now - just re-purchase the product". That's not an attractive prospect.

Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

We have historically done this with major releases.  And LMS 4.0 is a major release.  As you can see from the screenshots, a lot has been overhauled both on the surface and below the covers.  As I said, there should be a discount plan, but I do not have all the details at this time.

Beginner

Hoping the discount for those who have LMS 3.2 and want to upgrade to 4.0 will be at acceptable price level. There will be further instruction from Cisco but can you install 4 over 3.2 in one go if existing server is within requirements? Or maybe one has to run a new installation?

Yawena

Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

Yes, you can install 4.0 on top of 3.2.  However, I always recommend you do a clean install followed by a restoration from your 3.2 backup.

Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

I need to clarify something here.  You can install LMS 4.0 on the same server that has 3.2 today, but you will need to first uninstall LMS 3.2.  Then install LMS 4.0 from scratch and restore your 3.2 backup.  The restore process will take care of data migration.

Beginner

do you have few reason why i need to upgrade from 3.2 to 4.00. as earlier person comments. i am very disappointed by 3.2 performance. after 1 one year on use I couldn't convince my manager and co-workers the benefit we got because of upgrade 3.2 from 2.6. on many respects. i have opened more than 30 TAC case just the last 12 month. many of the issue especially performance still perform worst level compare to LMS 2.6 with the same number of devices manage and we have used the best server available on the market which has a more than triple power/memory than cisco hard ware requirment but the result is very disappointing. my main question is is there any significant change regarding application performance compere to 3.2? thanks much.

Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

No.  The goal with LMS 4.0 with regard to performance was to put it on par with LMS 3.2 (where screens existed in LMS 3.2).  That said, we learned a lot about performance on our way to 4.0.  We have increased the minimum requirements so that people can realize better performance.  We also found that investing in low-latency I/O controllers and disks will greatly improve the overall LMS performance.

Hall of Fame Community Legend

Hey Joe,

What OS will LMS 4.0 support?

Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

LMS 4.0 runs on Solaris 10, Windows 2003, and Windows 2008 R1.  Windows 2008 R2 support is currently planned for December of this year.

Hall of Fame Community Legend

Hi Joe,

Thanks for this.  Will LMS 4.0 be supported with Linux?

Hall of Fame Cisco Employee

No, but Linux support is planned for a post 4.0 release.

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