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difference between ACS appliance and windows based ACS server


Does anyone the difference between ACS appliance and windows based ACS server. I have worked with both, just curious. I have to get an ACS server for LEAP authentication for my wireless access points, not sure which one to go for. I find it very cumbersome to configure additonal steps if i want to use the ACS appliance with my Domain controller (pass credidentails to the domain controller for varification). Is it difficult to implement?


Cisco Employee

Re: difference between ACS appliance and windows based ACS serve

The appliance is Windows based, it has a lot of Windows services turned off though to make it more secure than a standard Windows build. The appliance was basically designed so that you could lock it away in a closet and the only access is via the web GUI, rather than what most people end up having with their ACS server sitting on a spare desk with open access to the screen and keyboard. As I said initially, it also runs a more secure version of standard Windows so that it shouldn't be susceptible to all the worms/viruses floating around nowadays.

So, it is Windows based, but it isn't part of any windows domain, so if you want to authenticate your users based on their Windows username/password, the appliance has to hand that username/password off to a PDC/BDC, which is why you need the agent running on that separate machine. It is a little extra work, but once set up shouldn't ever need changing, and it is only necessary when doing Windows-based authentication specifically. For other external databases, the appliance can talk directly to them just like a standard ACS server can.

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