Rijin Champadan Puthykkeyi, Product Manager at Cisco Systems
Primary Blog Author:
Rijin Champadan Puthykkeyi
Product Manager at Cisco Systems

With the 10.2(1) release, Cisco NX-OS adopted Smart Licensing with Policy (SLP) to simplify license management across Cisco Nexus products. To understand how SLP simplifies license activation, mobility, visibility, and deployments read on.

Traditionally, NX-OS relied on Product Activation Keys (PAKs) to manage licenses. As PAK licenses were associated with device serial numbers, network operators needed to know all the features used on each device in advance as well as its specific license requirements to generate the appropriate licenses. And if a license had to be moved from one device to another at any point, new license files had to be generated as well. Customers also had to install unique licenses on every device and keep track of the license inventory manually.
As a part of the licensing simplification journey, Smart Licensing was introduced in NX-OS 9.3(3) over a year ago, and improved customer experience in innumerable ways.

Enter Smart Licensing with Policy

Taking our customers further along this journey, the new and upgraded Smart Licensing with Policy (SLP) can support a variety of deployment modes and introduce policies to control license reporting. It also and eliminates product registration and evaluation mode.
Smart Licensing with Policy (SLP) establishes a pool of license entitlements.With this, customers can now:

  • Consume entitlements across their entire organization in a flexible and automated manner.
  • Add entitlements during purchase to their Smart Account in Cisco Smart Software Manager (CSSM).
  • Have the flexibility to turn on any feature they want on any device.
  • Report license consumption to CSSM by the device via the many supported deployment modes, based on device installed policy.

Customers without a smart account, can easily register at https://software.cisco.com/. Existing PAK licenses can be converted to Smart entitlements in CSSM as well.

On NX-OS, SLP deployment can be configured to either directly report to Cisco Smart software manager (CSSM) through the internet or via mediated access through Cisco Smart License Utility (CSLU) or Smart Software Manager (SSM) On-Prem. NX-OS also supports file-based license reporting for completely air-gapped devices on dark networks. To learn more about these deployment modes and configuration, please visit SLP config guide.

Smart Licensing using Policy deployment options

The new policy aspect of Smart licensing using policy dictates how often license consumption should be reported. The policy installed on the device controls first-time report of license consumption (default is within 90 days), reporting frequency (once a year), and reporting requirement after any change in software feature usage. (i.e., if a feature is turned on that requires a new license or vice versa).

As all NX-OS licenses are honor based, even if a device does not report license consumption to Cisco or the licenses expire, the functionality of the device is not affected in any way and all features will operate optimally. This ensures that critical business operations of our customers are not impacted.

Upgrade to Smart Licensing with Policy with ease

For existing NX-OS customers, when a device using PAK license is upgraded to NX-OS 10.2(1), the software will recognize those PAK licenses and will automatically trigger a “device led license conversion” to SLP without any user intervention. If you are using legacy Smart Licensing, upgrading to 10.2(1) will be seamless as existing call-home mode in SL will continue to work in SLP.

New deployments?

For greenfield NX-OS deployments, new product purchases with 10.2(1) preinstalled will have their first-time license reporting done at the factory. This means the devices will not have to send a license report to Cisco for the next 365 days based on the default reporting policy. If the device fails to report within the reporting period, even though the device will be considered out of compliance, all features will continue to work in honor mode.

Are you ready?

Smart Licensing with Policy simplifies NX-OS license inventory management and deployment. Instead of acquiring licenses before use, network operators can now turn on any feature they want on any device at any time. Customers get a complete view of their assets through a single interface and can efficiently allocate licenses as warranted with ease. I am excited to share this Cisco licensing innovation with you and look forward to seeing our customers simplify their license operations and gain immediate value.


Shankar Varanasy

Sr. Product Manager

Data Center Switching