How many Cisco licenses do I need and why?
If you are running a business or have Cisco hardware appliances at home, the one question you will certainly ask is whether you need Cisco licenses for using its hardware appliances and if yes, then how many licenses you need for them. In reality, you need to understand more than the number of Cisco licenses you need.
In this guide, we will explain Cisco licensing for Cisco appliances in detail and help you find the answers to the questions that you have related to Cisco licenses.
Do I need Cisco licenses for using Cisco hardware appliances?
Yes, you need Cisco licenses for using Cisco switches and other hardware appliances, such as firewall security appliances. So, if you have or you are going to buy Cisco switches online or offline, it is a must for you to understand what and how many licenses you will need.
What kind of licensing do I need for using Cisco hardware?
All Cisco hardware appliances come with unique serial numbers. Typically, Cisco offers perpetual licenses which are unique to each serial number.
You can buy a perpetual license once and use this license throughout the time you are using the hardware for which this license is issued.
Once you replace the hardware, the license becomes obsolete. This means the new replacement hardware will need its own set of license(s).
However, if you RMA (return merchandise authorization) the hardware appliance, you are allowed for a one-time transfer of that license to the new hardware. This is the only exception where you can transfer a license. Otherwise, in all other cases, you will have to buy a new license for new hardware.
In addition to the perpetual licensing model, you may also need to buy separate licenses for certain software features and services. The licenses used for software features and services are distinct from the perpetual licenses for hardware and they require their own support contracts.
For instance, if you want to activate Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) feature for your firewall, you will need a software license or entitlement before using it. In this case, one Cisco firewall device can have two or more support contracts or licenses associated with it. One will be for the hardware failure and the underlying operating system and another for the software support and updates that are specific to IPS.
Such licenses are generally called add-on licenses. The add-on licenses provide Cisco innovations on its hardware appliances and also on the Cisco Digital Network Architecture Center (the Cisco DNA Center).
What Happens If the Cisco Support Lapse and I Still Keep Cisco Licensing?
If you happen to let the Cisco support lapse due to any reason and still have the Cisco license, the core module of the service or feature will continue to work the same but it won’t receive the latest threat updates, leaving your business’s cybersecurity more vulnerable to new threats and attacks. Plus, you will also not be able to contact Cisco support (TAC) to get any assistance with the relevant software module. So, it is highly recommended to keep both the Cisco support and licensing.
How many Cisco licenses do I need for my home or business?
The number of Cisco licenses you need depends on the number of Cisco devices that you have and the services and features you need to activate in those devices. At a very basic level, the number of Cisco licenses should be equal to the number of Cisco devices you have.
For instance, if you are using 10 Cisco switches in your office, you will have at least 10 Cisco licenses to use them and get proper hardware support. Now, assume you have activated a service or special feature in all these switches called network stacking. Then, you will need 10 perpetual licenses and 10 network stack licenses in total.
For some Cisco hardware appliances, you will need more than one license. For example, for a Cisco Catalyst 9200 Series switch, it is mandatory to buy both Network Stack licenses and Cisco DNA licenses at the time of purchase. Both licenses are perpetual licenses. They come in two licensing tier options called Essentials (-E) and Advantages (-A). Network Stack Essentials or Advantage comes with the hardware, but you need to choose a Cisco DNA term license at the time of order.
Note: While making a selection, you will also need to select the preferred consumption model (Cisco DNA Premier, Advantage, or Essentials) and duration for the Cisco DNA term license (3, 5, or 7 years). And you can also add other components such as a secondary power supply, power cables, and more. So, it is better to get an idea of your needs before you place an order for Cisco switches or other hardware appliances.
How do I get support with Cisco Licensing?
With Cisco Licensing, there are usually two models and SKUs that you will see on your order and build of material sheets. These two models are Smartnet (SNT) and Software Support Services (SWSS). Though both these models look familiar, choosing the wrong one can leave a company vulnerable to security threats.
The Smartnet model applies to only hardware. Based on the level purchased, you will get anywhere from 8×5 next business days (NBD) to 24x7x2 hours replacement on that hardware. While your Smartnet is valid, it also grants you operating system updates that are similar to Windows updates.
However, SWSS is offered with one single purpose and that is to ensure that the software add-on features stay updated and eligible for support.
If you buy products with both SNT and SWSS SKU on them, it is preferred to choose both SKUs also at the renewal time. In case you choose SNT and leave SWSS, you will not get any Cisco support if you want help with the software module. On the other hand, if you choose SWSS and leave SNT, you will get software updates and support but will not get any support if your hardware fails. They won’t help you replace your hardware. So, in such a case, you will need to buy new hardware along with new licenses attached to it.
If you are buying Cisco hardware appliances such as switches and firewalls and need help with choosing the right Cisco licensing for your needs, please get in touch with us via WhatsApp at +971585811786.