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The Best Way to Manage Cisco Licenses

[fa icon="calendar"] May 11, 2018 - Written by: Jeff Patterson

Raise your hand if you’ve ever found working with Cisco licensing to be challenging. If you raised your hand, you’re not alone! The complicated Cisco licensing process has been time consuming and created opportunities for errors. Who out there remembers the infamous product activation key (PAK)? For those of you who aren’t familiar, the fun started by tracking down who within your company received the emailed PAK, sending the PAK back to Cisco along with information on which device it will be installed on, and then finally receiving back a license file that you could apply. Well, I’m here to offer you some great news! Cisco has made great strides to improve how they deal with licensing and has proudly introduced a new solution, Cisco Smart Licensing


With Cisco Smart Licensing, you can now manage all your licenses through a cloud-based portal known as Cisco Smart Software Manager. Within Smart Software Manager, sub-accounts (virtual accounts) can be created that enable access control for license usage throughout different departments, locations, or areas within your company. This provides users access only to the licenses within a particular virtual account, while an administrator has the ability to move licenses between virtual accounts. For instance, a company might want to create virtual accounts with different virtual account users for their collaboration, security, and networking departments. Smart Accounts can do that.



With Smart Licenses, once an order is booked the license is automatically available to your Smart Account. Smart Software License enabled devices, once activated, will self-register to the Smart Software Manager and will receive the license(s). There’s no emailing, registering PAKs, or loading license files. Smart Software Licensing creates a pool of software licenses, or entitlements, that can be used across the entire customer profile. This is particularly useful for RMAs because it eliminates the need to re-host licenses. Customers can visualize and manage licenses throughout their company from one central location.


Unfortunately, not all Cisco devices are Smart License enabled, so some devices still require the use of PAKs. Cisco’s migration path is to Smart Licensing for all devices so expect to see an increasing number of Cisco products in this model over time. Customers are able to convert classic PAK-based licenses to a Smart License, assuming a Smart License equivalent is available. Until then, traditional PAKs can still be stored and managed within Smart Accounts and, for new orders, PAKs can be delivered directly to a Smart Account versus the traditional email. 


While the conversion from traditional PAKs to Smart Licensing will take some time, we commend Cisco for listening to customer and partner feedback and taking positive steps to make managing Cisco devices similar. If you’d like more information about Cisco Smart Licensing, the best path towards Cisco Smart Licensing totality or any other of the aspects mentioned in this article, our IE Team would be happy to assist you, contact us today.



Topics: Technology

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