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Cisco Smart Licensing: A Solution Looking For A Problem?

Jul 08, 2024By Sean Doyle


Cisco Smart Licensing: A Solution Looking for a Problem?

Cisco Smart Licensing was introduced as a modern approach to managing software licenses across its extensive product portfolio. This cloud-based system promises to streamline the licensing process, providing a centralized platform for license management. However, it's essential to critically assess whether this tool is genuinely necessary, given the historical context and existing alternatives that many organizations already have in place.

The Historical Context: When Less Was More
Perpetual Licenses: In the past, software licenses were often perpetual, meaning companies could buy a license once and use it indefinitely without worrying about renewals or compliance checks. This simplicity negated the need for complex licensing tools and allowed businesses to focus their resources elsewhere.
Existing Management Tools: Many organizations have long relied on proprietary or third-party tools to manage software updates and track license usage. These tools have been tailored to their specific needs and integrated into their IT ecosystems, providing reliable and efficient license management without the need for additional solutions.
The Pros and Cons of Cisco Smart Licensing:


Centralized Management: Cisco Smart Licensing offers a single portal for managing licenses, which can be convenient for some organizations.
Flexibility: The model supports both direct and mediated deployment, catering to different security and network needs.


Complex Initial Setup: Transitioning from traditional licensing to Smart Licensing can be time-consuming and complex, requiring significant planning and resources.

Dependency on Internet Connectivity: Regular synchronization is necessary, which can be challenging for organizations with strict security policies or those in remote locations.

Learning Curve: The new system requires training for IT staff, adding to the operational overhead.

Do You Really Need Cisco Smart Licensing?
While Cisco Smart Licensing offers some benefits, it is crucial to evaluate whether these outweigh the challenges and whether they are needed at all. Here are some points to consider:

Perpetual Licenses Are Still Viable: For many organizations, perpetual licenses remain a cost-effective and straightforward solution. They eliminate the need for ongoing compliance checks and renewals, reducing administrative burden.

Existing Tools Work Just Fine: If your organization already has effective tools for managing software updates and licenses, adopting Cisco Smart Licensing might introduce unnecessary complexity. Existing systems are often well-integrated and familiar to IT staff, ensuring smooth operations without the need for additional training or disruption.

Cost vs. Benefit: The cost and effort associated with implementing and maintaining Cisco Smart Licensing may not justify the benefits, especially if your current system is already meeting your needs effectively.

Conclusion: Evaluate Your Needs Carefully
Before jumping on the Cisco Smart Licensing bandwagon, it's essential to critically assess whether it truly aligns with your organization’s needs. For many companies, perpetual licenses and existing management tools provide sufficient functionality without the added complexity and cost of a new system. Cisco Smart Licensing may offer some advantages, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and its necessity should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.