Customer requirements are keep changing, and Cisco is focusing more on network to be more software-focused and less hardware-dependent. Cisco Smart Licensing supports this vision by software license management. Smart Licensing is a flexible software licensing model that simplifies the way you activate and manage licenses across your organization.

Smart Licensing simplifies the way customers activate and manage licenses across their organization in below ways:

  • License flexibility: Licenses are not node-locked to hardware, so customers can easily pool license entitlements and move them around freely through their network as needed.
  • Easy activation: Smart Licensing establishes a pool of software licenses that can be used across an entire organization; no Product Activation Keys (PAKs) are needed for registrations.

Why Smart-Licensing Using Policy?

Though Cisco supports various deployment mechanism for tracking and reporting of License usage, yet it was not easily adaptable for all kinds of deployments. There were feedback and requirements from few customers, to make Smart Licensing more favourable for adoption.

Some of the challenges are:

  • With SL Registration – Devices has to be always connected to the Internet to reach CSSM which is a deployment concern
  • On-Prem Satellite server introduce more cost to deployment and maintenance
  • SLR facilitates only air-gapped networks
  • Any deployments that do not support either of these models, have to run their devices in Unregistered/Eval expired state, even after licenses are purchased.

Because of the above challenges, this brings to me to next section, that is Smart Licensing Using Policy.

What’s Smart Licensing Using Policy?

Smart Licensing took a major step towards simplifying the way customers activate and manage their Enterprise Networking devices. Smart Licensing Using Policy now provides a simpler and more flexible deployment method. More details could be found at Smart Licensing Using Policy.

Smart Licensing Using Policy

All enterprise networking products such as the Catalyst 9000 series switches, routing platforms (ASR1K, ISR1K, ISR4K), Cisco Catalyst 9800 Series Wireless Controllers, IOT routers and switches support Smart Licensing Using Policy.

Benefits of Smart Licensing Using Policy

  1. Smart Licensing using Policy eliminates Day 0 deployment friction (device on-boarding).
    • Device just works out of box and enabling immediate value for Cisco customers.
    • Since there is no evaluation mode at device boot, device registration before use of device is not required.
  2. Smart Licensing using Policy complies with customer’s security policies, eliminating risk.
    • Connectivity of the device to the internet is not required for software compliance.
    • Utility/tools available to report license consumption periodically for online customers; For offline customers, utility available to upload reports offline.
  3. Smart Licensing using Policy reduces OPEX costs.
    • Customer network operation success is not tied to the software procurement process. In classic Smart Licensing, Day0 must be 100% accurate for network to deploy, which adds opex costs.


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Murugan Perumal

Technical Leader

Intent Based Networking Group (IBNG)