Introduction to Smart Licensing

With changing customer requirements, Cisco is reinventing the network to be more software-focused and less hardware-dependent. Cisco Smart Licensing supports this vision by simplifying 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 helps answer two questions:

  • What licenses have we purchased from Cisco?
  • What licenses are we using?

Smart Licensing works differently from older or classic licenses. With older or classic licenses:

  • Customers had a limited view, as there was no way to keep track of all of the software licenses that they own.
  • Each device had to be manually registered using a license key.
  • Licenses were tied to a specific device, and if the device was no longer in use, neither was the license.

Which brings me to my next section:


What are the benefits of Smart Licensing?

Smart Licensing simplifies the way customers activate and manage licenses  across their organization in 3 key 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.
  • Simplicity:Leave inconsistent licensing entitlements and management behind. Cisco is standardizing Smart Licensing across all products.


What’s new with Smart Licensing?

Smart Licensing took a major step toward simplifying the way customers activate and manage their Enterprise Networking devices. Smart Licensing now supports a simpler and more flexible deployment method – Smart Licensing Using Policy.

Starting with IOS-XE 17.3.2/17.4.1, all product running these versions of software will only support Smart Licensing Using Policy. Current eligible enterprise networking products that support Smart Licensing Using Policy are the Catalyst 9000 series switches, routing platforms such as the ASR1K, ISR1K, ISR4K, Cisco Catalyst 9800 Series Wireless Controllers, IOT routers and switches.


What are the benefits of Smart Licensing Using Policy?

Benefit #1: Smart Licensing using Policy removes friction from Day 0 operations (device on-boarding) enabling immediate value for Cisco customers.

How? Removing evaluation mode that requires registration before use of device.

Benefit #2: Smart Licensing using Policy complies with customer’s security policies, eliminating risk.

How? Connectivity of the device to the internet is not required for software compliance.

Benefit #3: Smart Licensing using Policy reduces OPEX costs.

How? Customer network ops success is not tied to the software procurement process. In the past, Day 0 must be 100% accurate for network ops to deploy, which adds opex costs.


To learn more about Smart Licensing, please visit: cisco.com/go/smartlicensing


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Monisha Alfaro

Product Marketing Manager

Enterprise Networking & Mobility