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The Building Blocks in a Cisco NAC Appliance Design

  • Sample Chapter is provided courtesy of Cisco Press.
  • Date: Jul 8, 2008.

Chapter Description

This chapter focuses on the building blocks available with the Cisco NAC Appliance solution. The purpose and function of each piece is covered, as are the requirements, scalability, and performance of these building blocks.

Cisco NAC Appliance Minimum Requirements

Cisco NAC Appliance Manager and NAC Appliance Server can be purchased two ways. You can buy only the software from Cisco and buy the hardware somewhere else, or you can buy the hardware and the software together in one of several appliance models available from Cisco. Typically, the term appliance means that the hardware and software come as a unit and you don't have the flexibility to buy your own hardware.

That is not the case with NAC Appliance. The NAC Appliance software-only option is packaged on a bootable CD or DVD in such a way that it completely self-installs everything you need on the hardware of your choice. There are no install scripts to run or questions to answer; just pop in the CD or DVD, boot up the system, wait a few minutes, and then you have NAC Appliance Manager or NAC Appliance Server ready to be configured.

However, the recommended path is to purchase the hardware and software NAC Appliance from Cisco. This is a true appliance and comes preinstalled and ready to go. It makes for a cleaner solution. There are three NAC Appliance hardware and software models. Table 3-1 shows the mapping of licenses to appliance models. A 3310 or 3350 appliance can be purchased as either NAC Appliance Manager or NAC Appliance Server—the hardware supports both. A 3390 supports only NAC Appliance Manager.

Table 3-1. Cisco NAC Appliance 3300 Series

Cisco NAC Appliance 3310

Cisco NAC Appliance 3350

Cisco NAC Appliance 3390

Cisco NAC Appliance Server

Supported User Licenses: 100, 250, 500

Supported User Licenses: 1500, 2500, 3500

Cisco NAC Appliance Manager

NAC Appliance Manager Lite—supports up to three NAC Appliance Server pairs

NAC Appliance Manager—supports up to 20 NAC Appliance Server pairs

NAC Appliance Super Manager—supports up to 40 NAC Appliance Server pairs

The 3350 and 3390 appliances both include an SSL accelerator card and a hard disk array. The sections that follow describe the requirements for each component of the solution.

Cisco NAC Appliance Manager and Server Requirements

Cisco NAC Appliance is sold as software only or as an appliance with hardware and software preinstalled. If you go the software-only route, you have to provide your own hardware. This hardware must be on the current supported server configurations list. Hardware not on the list will not be supported by Cisco Technical Assistance Center. To obtain the current supported server list, go to http://www.cisco.com and search for "supported server configurations nac." After you select a supported server vendor and model, make sure that it meets the NAC Appliance minimum requirements listed in Table 3-2. Of course, if you go with the Appliance-packaged version of NAC Appliance, you do not need to worry about any of this; it is already optimized.

Table 3-2. NAC Appliance Manager and Server Minimum Requirements


Minimum Requirement


Single 2.4 GHz or greater.

RAM memory

1 GB or greater (see "Reasons to Exceed the Recommended minimum Requirements").

Hard disk space

10 GB or greater.

NICs 1

Dual Fast or Gigabit Ethernet ports (see "Reasons to Exceed the Recommended minimum Requirements"). Intel or Broadcom recommended.

Web browser for web admin console

Internet Explorer 6.0 or above is required.

Cisco Clean Access Agent Requirements

The Cisco Clean Access Agent currently runs on Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Table 3-3 provides details as to the host requirements needed to run the Agent. Be sure to check Cisco.com to see whether additional operating systems or requirements have been added.

Table 3-3. Clean Access Agent Requirements



Supported operating systems

Microsoft Vista (all versions, including Japanese), Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Home, Windows XP MCE, Windows XP Tablet PC, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows SE, Windows Me, Japanese and simplified Chinese Windows XP SP2 Mac OS X 1

Hard drive space

Minimum of 10 MB free


No minimum requirements

3. Scalability and Performance of Cisco NAC Appliance | Next Section Previous Section

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