Difference Between Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE

Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE is a cloud-based networking service that allows for easier implementation of network access control, both within an organization and by allowing access to resources from outside the organization.

Moreover, both services allow IT supervisors to quickly analyze traffic to ensure sufficient capacity for their business needs. As a result, both Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE may seem exceptionally similar, yet they are different too.

Microsoft NPS vs Cisco ISE

The main difference between Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE is that Microsoft’s Network Performance Service (NPS) is a cloud-based service that allows users to monitor bandwidth, capacity, and network health, whereas Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE) is an on-premise service that helps enterprises manage their identity services across domains and applications.

Microsoft NPS vs Cisco ISE

Microsoft NPS can be used to monitor for a wide variety of events in the network, including but not limited to bandwidth usage, protocol violations, port binding failures, and much more.

This allows NPS to give a complete view into the health of networks as well as alert administrators when issues arise.

Cisco ISE is intended to provide a secure way of defining, deploying, and managing endpoints by consolidating and integrating security policies, such as access control lists, user policies, and configuration profiles into a single platform, which will then be applied to endpoints connected to the network.

Comparison Table Between Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE

Parameters of ComparisonMicrosoft NPSCisco ISE
DefinitionMicrosoft NPS relies on a concept known as network policies to enforce compliance on the network and thereby increase security. Cisco ISE is a network analytics platform that can provide high-performance network visibility and security
Shielding SystemMicrosoft NPS, which is hosted in the cloud is slightly less shielded. Cisco ISE runs on-premise, it is more shielded.
Set-Up Microsoft NPS is fabricated for the small to medium business market. Cisco ISE is fabricated for enterprises and distributed deployments.
User AcessMicrosoft NPS does not let users manage users through existing authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) systems.Cisco ISE lets users manage users through existing authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) systems.
AdministrationNPS can also be used to audit the effectiveness of the organization’s security protocols, which is an essential part of any high-security organization. Cisco ISE is most often used to govern traffic flow in the organization’s network.

What is Microsoft NPS?

Microsoft NPS monitors the health of your servers and applications to detect anomalies in the data traffic. If any abnormalities are detected, it can alert the user that performance issues may be occurring in the environment.

Network policies are customized for each environment and can be created to enforce multiple rules for different ports, protocols, and server types.

Microsoft NPS is a relatively lightweight application that allows for quick deployment and setup in environments with or without existing Microsoft NPS infrastructure in the place.

Microsoft NPS also helps diagnose the source of these issues by collecting information on what is happening at the location and how users could resolve them.

Microsoft NPS can also work with VPN servers, Firewalls, and Web Application Firewalls (WAF) to help with performance issues.

There are some limitations included with this tool as well, such as it cannot be used to provide server load balancing, HTTP load balancing, query performance, or application health monitoring.

What is Cisco ISE?

Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) is a comprehensive identity management solution that provides policy-based access control, application visibility and control, user self-service, security reporting, and authentication services.

Additionally, Cisco ISE utilizes the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) Connector module that provides integration with Cisco ASA firewalls, Cisco ASR routers, and other security devices from the company.

Cisco ISE provides an extensive set of features for managing both corporate access and guest access to the network.

Cisco ISE is ideal for customers who have stringent security requirements that comply with regulatory frameworks such as PCI DSS or HIPAA. Cisco ISE also integrates with other Cisco products and offers integration with third-party security applications.

Cisco ISE provides a policy-based approach for access control and user self-service for wired and wireless users.

ISE provides encrypted communications to help keep the information confidential in transit, including IPsec VPN tunnels for network access control.

It also provides secure communications to help protect against man-in-the-middle attacks by certifying the identity of network devices and access points.

Main Differences Between Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE

  1. The Microsoft NPS is a defense tool that provides to helps troubleshoot network performance, whereas Cisco ISE is a security appliance and the central platform of endpoint security technology.
  2. The shielding system of Microsoft NPS is less safeguarding, whereas the shielding system of Cisco ISE is highly safeguarding.
  3. The set-up of Microsoft NPS is constructed for the small to medium business market, whereas the set-up of Cisco ISE is constructed for enterprises and distributed deployments.
  4. The user access of Microsoft NPS does not let users manage through existing AAA systems, whereas the user access lets users manage through existing AAA systems.
  5. The Microsoft NPS is an essential part of any high-security organization, whereas Cisco ISE lets organizations can more effectively manage and secure wired and wireless access to networks and applications.


More and more organizations are turning to the cloud for their IT solutions. The benefits of this turn to the cloud are many lower operating costs increased productivity, and a reduced need for legacy infrastructure.

Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE can help any organization looking to embrace the cloud reach their goals faster by providing visibility into network behavior as well as an array of features that facilitate rapid adjustments in response to changing circumstances.

Both Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE are offered as a cloud service and on-premise software.

Microsoft’s NPS is a better choice for companies that want to use cloud services, and smaller businesses that want robust network security may prefer Cisco ISE, as it allows them to control what goes on in their environment.

Both Microsoft NPS and Cisco ISE are available on-premise and in the cloud, but Microsoft’s NPS is more suited towards smaller projects due to its price point.


  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4842-7741-6_1
  2. https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/62072/Havia_Tapani.pdf
  3. https://www.ghspjournal.org/content/6/3/413.short
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