Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) is a comprehensive security policy management platform that enables organizations to enforce security policies across their networks. As technology evolves, so do the requirements for deploying ISE virtual machines (VMs). In version 3.1, Cisco has introduced several enhancements and changes to the system requirements, ensuring optimal performance and scalability. This article delves into the ISE VM requirements 3.1, providing a detailed guide for IT professionals and network administrators.

Hardware Requirements:

The foundation of any ISE deployment lies in the hardware that hosts the virtual machines. In version 3.1, Cisco has fine-tuned the hardware requirements to ensure the ISE VMs operate efficiently. Key considerations include processor specifications, memory requirements, and storage capacity.

1.1 Processor Specifications:

ISE 3.1 demands a robust processing power to handle authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) functions seamlessly. The recommended processors include Intel Xeon E5 or later, providing multiple cores to support concurrent operations efficiently. Ensure the processors meet the 64-bit architecture requirement to align with the latest technological standards.

1.2 Memory Requirements:

Memory plays a crucial role in the performance of ISE VMs, especially in large-scale deployments. Cisco recommends a minimum of 32 GB RAM for small-scale deployments, with options to scale up to 384 GB for environments handling a significant number of endpoints. Adequate memory ensures smooth processing of authentication requests and helps maintain low latency.

1.3 Storage Capacity:

ISE 3.1 demands sufficient storage to accommodate the operating system, applications, and logs generated during the course of operations. A minimum of 500 GB of storage space is recommended, with additional space allocated for backups and system updates. Utilizing high-performance storage solutions enhances ISE’s responsiveness and ensures optimal user experience.

Virtualization Platform:

ISE 3.1 is designed to operate within a virtualized environment, offering flexibility and scalability. Understanding the virtualization platform requirements is crucial for a successful deployment.

2.1 VMware:

For VMware deployments, ISE 3.1 supports VMware vSphere/ESXi 6.5, 6.7, and 7.0. It’s essential to ensure that the chosen version is compatible with ISE 3.1 and meets the specified hardware requirements. Additionally, administrators should configure VMware settings, such as CPU reservation and memory reservation, to optimize performance.

2.2 Microsoft Hyper-V:

For organizations leveraging Microsoft Hyper-V, ISE 3.1 is compatible with Hyper-V Server 2016 and 2019. It is imperative to configure Hyper-V settings adequately, ensuring that the virtual machines have the required resources for seamless operation.

Network Requirements:

ISE relies heavily on network communication for its AAA functions. Understanding the network requirements is paramount to ensuring proper integration and functionality.

3.1 Network Interfaces:

ISE 3.1 supports multiple network interfaces to facilitate communication with different network segments. Administrators must allocate the appropriate number of interfaces based on the deployment size and requirements. Cisco recommends a minimum of four network interfaces for a standard deployment.

3.2 Bandwidth Considerations:

Network bandwidth is a critical factor in the performance of ISE, particularly in environments with high user density. Adequate bandwidth ensures timely communication between ISE nodes and reduces latency in AAA processes. IT professionals should conduct a thorough assessment of network bandwidth requirements based on the number of endpoints and expected traffic.

Scaling and Performance Optimization:

Scalability is a key focus in ISE 3.1, allowing organizations to expand their deployments as the network grows. Performance optimization considerations involve strategic planning to ensure the ISE VMs meet the demands of the network.

4.1 Node Types:

ISE 3.1 introduces different node types, each serving specific purposes within the deployment. Understanding the roles of Policy Service Nodes (PSN), Monitoring and Troubleshooting Nodes (MnT), and Administration Nodes is crucial for designing a scalable and resilient architecture.

4.2 Distributed Deployments:

To optimize performance, especially in large-scale deployments, ISE 3.1 recommends a distributed architecture. Distributing PSNs and MnT nodes strategically across the network ensures load balancing and fault tolerance. This approach enhances scalability and resilience, allowing organizations to adapt to evolving network requirements.

Security Considerations:

Security is at the core of ISE, and version 3.1 introduces new features and enhancements to strengthen the platform. Implementing security best practices is essential to safeguard the ISE VMs and the data they handle.

5.1 Secure Communications:

ISE 3.1 emphasizes secure communications between nodes and components. Administrators should leverage secure protocols such as HTTPS and implement proper certificate management to encrypt and authenticate communication within the ISE deployment.

5.2 Patching and Updates:

Regular patching and updating are crucial for maintaining a secure ISE environment. Version 3.1 introduces streamlined update processes, but administrators must follow best practices to ensure a smooth update experience without compromising security.


Cisco Identity Services Engine 3.1 brings significant improvements to the security policy management landscape. Understanding the VM requirements is essential for designing a robust and scalable deployment that meets the organization’s needs. By adhering to the hardware, virtualization, network, and security requirements outlined in this guide, IT professionals can ensure a successful implementation of ISE 3.1, providing a secure and efficient solution for enforcing network security policies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *