Cisco Smart Licensing using Policy is a new solution that simplifies license management across Cisco enterprise products running Cisco IOS XE. Managing licenses using automation, policy, and streamlined processes is getting kudos from customers. They no longer have to install unique licenses on every Cisco device and keep track of those licenses manually, an especially difficult process in large companies with thousands of devices.

Cisco Licensing and Cisco Smart Licensing Using Policy

At Cisco, we have a trust-but-verify model where most software usage is allowed upfront and trued up after the fact, when Cisco Smart Software Manager (CSSM) can correlate the usage with the purchases. Most Cisco software licenses are unenforced. Customers don’t have to complete any licensing-specific operations, such as registering or generating keys before they start using the software and the licenses that are tied to it. Less than a handful of export-controlled and enforced licenses require Cisco authorization before use.

An example of an enforced license is the Media Redundancy Protocol (MRP) Client license, which is available on Cisco’s Industrial Ethernet Switches. Export-controlled licenses are export-restricted by U.S. trade-control laws. An example of an export-controlled license is the High-Speed Encryption (HSECK9) license, which is available on certain Cisco Routers.

The required authorization for enforced licenses is an authorization code, which must be installed in the corresponding product instance. License usage is recorded on each Cisco device with timestamps.

Cisco Smart Licensing Using Policy is a software license aggregator solution that provides a seamless, automated experience for customers. Instead of having to manually configure Cisco devices to synchronize with CSSM, Cisco Smart Licensing Using Policy simplifies and automates Day-0 and Day-1 operations.

Cisco can tweak the policy for trusted customers to alter when devices report, how frequently, and which devices and licenses require reporting. If no changes are made to configurations that impact license usage, reporting occurs once a year. If changes are made, there is a suggested but not mandatory 90-day window for reporting.

Automated Collection of Software Usage Data

A Resource Utilization Measurement (RUM) report with usage measurements is continually generated by each Cisco product instance. The reports give a complete time series analysis of license usage at each customer site.

Software usage information is transmitted to the CSSM and customers use the My Cisco Entitlements (MCE) dashboard to manage all their Cisco products and services from a centralized portal. CSSM helps them manage current requirements and review usage trends to plan for future license requirements. Additional licenses can be purchased if software is being overused while features that are being paid for but not used can be highlighted and turned on.

Multiple options are available for license usage reporting (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Cisco Smart Licensing with Policy Reporting Options

Customers can report usage information directly to CSSM, use a controller (like Cisco DNA Center or Cisco vManage), or deploy Smart Software Manager On-Prem (SSM On-Prem) to administer products and licenses on their premises using a Cisco UCS server. Offline reporting for closed networks is also available. Customers can download usage information onto a storage device like a thumb drive, and then upload the data to CSSM.

Cisco Smart License Utility

Some Cisco customers don’t want to have to deploy a Cisco UCS, use a Cisco controller, or have devices directly connected to the Internet. So Cisco Smart License Using Policy was developed based on intense customer interest and input. This small footprint utility has a subset of functionality found on Cisco SSM On-Prem. It runs on Windows and Linux, with Mac OS coming, and automates the transmission of software usage reports from a Cisco product for reporting to

a Smart Account on Cisco SSM. It is also capable of managing trade-controlled software authorization codes per product as required.

The utility collects usage reports from the product instance and uploads them to the corresponding Smart Account or Virtual Account – online, or offline, using files. Similarly, the RUM report acknowledgement (ACK) process is collected online or offline and sent back to the product instance. The Cisco Smart License Utility also sends authorization code requests to CSSM and receives authorization codes from CSSM.

Figure 2 shows the CLI for a Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR) with reporting for four different feature licenses. ACK corresponds to reported and acknowledged reports. UNACK reports have yet to be acknowledged by CSSM. OPEN reports have yet to be sent to CSSM.

Figure 2. CLI with Cisco Smart Licensing Usage Report

Figure 3 shows a screen shot of Cisco Smart Licensing Utility with a sample report with the device’s product ID and serial number, date of last report filed, and acknowledgement of usage report.

Figure 3. Smart License Utility Interface

For environments where devices are not directly connected to the Internet, the Cisco Smart License Utility triggers workflows with usage reports from all relevant devices and these can be put on a laptop and uploaded as a file to CSSM.

Cisco Smart Licensing with Policy improves the existing implementation of Smart Licensing by addressing the pain points customers have had with the PAKs reporting model. It streamlines usage reporting across topologies, introduces an easy-to-understand policy to govern reporting frequencies, and provides a frictionless Day 0/Day 1 experience.

Don’t miss other current blogs from the Cisco IOS XE developer team:

Building Resiliency Guardrails to Isolate Crashes in Cisco Products – Cisco Blogs

Welcome to Enhanced Programmatic Management of Enterprise Devices – Cisco Blogs

Accelerate and Simplify – Guiding Principles in the Design of New Software Image Upgrade and Patching Solutions

Cisco IOS XE – Past, Present, and Future

Native or Open-source Data Models? Use both for Software-defined Enterprise Networks



Sujay Patankar

Engineering Technical Leader

Software Engineering – Cisco IOS XE