Cisco Licensing


A refresher on the most pressing subjects in the current Cisco licensing landscape.

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Cisco Licenses can be a jungle. What starts with two or three products, often grows into a dark licensing forest with lots of subscriptions and renewal dates, rooted in many different partner contracts. It’s a mess that no one asked for, it’s just what happens when businesses grow. The good news is that you can take back control over your applications and infrastructure so that you can focus on your actual job: making IT work. This cheat sheet will help you get there.

Irregular renewal dates

Irregular renewal dates create a continuous procurement cycle taking up a lot of bandwidth from operational teams including; ICT, compliance, procurement, finance & associated approval committees. 

Procurement cycles take up valuable time whenever you need something. Having to go through internal or vendor processes takes time and pricing is always subject to change at every point until an order is placed. 

Beyond that, running an inventory of licences becomes a laborious task that’s rarely prioritised and is often a last-minute scramble to reconcile when required.


What you can start doing today:

  • Rebalance existing contract/s by performing a reconciliation and starting a new term on each.

  • Agree upon an internal inventory management process for recording and referencing licence keys and expiry dates.

  • Budget for expected price hikes of around 4-7% over a three year period.

  • Maximise up-front licence purchases to increase discount package and minimise the amount of procurement cycles undertaken. 

How an Enterprise Agreement can help:

  • Gets you one renewal date for all licences.

  • Stops producement cycles.

  • No charge until the next True-Forward date

  • One fixed cost for the term of agreement. 

Trialling new technologies

When investing in new technologies, identifying which platforms are or aren’t needed is a common challenge. Onboarding new technology consumes resources and can be costly, especially in the event of a wrong decision.

New services are tested in small batches, which end up costing more than when purchased in bulk. IT managers end up in an awkward position where they’re forced to balance the need to evolve with the times against the high costs of implementing new technologies.


What you can start doing today:

  • Arrange Proof of Concept (PoC) and Proof of Value (PoV) exercises with vendors and partners.

  • Have pricing discussions with suppliers.

  • Find new budget.

  • Group procurement together for a more efficient and cost-effective purchase.

How an Enterprise Agreement can help:

  • Gives you the chance to try any product in the EA Suite at your discretion.

  • Avoids vendor or partner input.

  • Avoids budget approvals or procurement cycles.

  • If the trial is successful, you can carry on and True-Forward will pick it up.

  • Avoids lasting cost impact for aborted trials.

Licensing compliance

Maintaining compliance is a constant uphill struggle for most IT managers, especially in larger organisations. Licences will often have been purchased by many individuals across the business, some from entirely different regions. It quickly becomes difficult to keep on top of compliance, as the task can quickly spiral out of control. Key staff exiting the company can compound the problem, by taking their unique tribal knowledge with them. A lot of human bandwidth is spent on tracking, organising and aligning licensing to the right products on an ongoing basis. Mistakes in compliance can cost businesses dearly at the end of the year, which can be problematic if not appropriately budgeted for.


What you can start doing today:

  • Design and implement meticulous purchase recording methods.

  • Maintain manual inventory for all licensing and ensure it remains current.

  • Ensure important employees keep shared records to protect against the impact of their absence.

  • Preemptively prepare for potential budget hits due to under-licensing when renewing licences.

  • Keep up communications with your vendor/partner.

How an Enterprise Agreement can help:

  • Always guarantees compliance.

  • Offers a single portal for all licence management.

  • Makes sure the full licence inventory is recorded and maintained.

  • Doesn’t tie licences to hardware, move licences as required.

Under-utilised licensing

Typically, all costs for a new platform are realised up-front. This means that the ROI model is already working against the business, as time is needed to design, deploy and optimise the platform. If the deployment gets delayed, the implementation can stall and the purchased licences are either underutilised or not utilised at all. This can leave businesses in a situation where the full implementation gets indefinitely delayed or cut altogether, leaving the full feature set inaccessible and unused licences as unnecessary overspend.


What you can start doing today:

  • Carefully plan purchases and don’t purchase more than you can implement within a reasonable time frame. 

  • Schedule and manage deployments to be completed by their deadlines. 

  • Dedicate appropriate resources to design, deployment and optimisation.

  • Regularly review feature usage to guarantee value of purchase.  

  • Use detailed licensing records to periodically check your licence utilisation. 

How an Enterprise Agreement can help:

  • Allows you to track adoption utilisation with full analytics through a central portal.

  • Allows you to instantly upgrade to a higher tier licence when you’re ready to consume more features.

  • Allows you to only pay for what you consume.

Inefficient expenditure

The temptation to overspend on licensing is quite common and tends to scale with the size of an organisation. Purchases across regions are often duplicated, and tracking is generally limited between geographical locations. 

One-off discounts based upon the size of an order incentivise bulk purchases, tempting organisations into large orders for the best possible prices. This also increases the time taken to achieve ROI on the purchase due to the complexity of large software deployments. 

Upscaling orders into bulk purchases to chase the best discounts creates a pattern of overspending and underutilisation, which often goes unnoticed until it’s time to renew again.


What you can start doing today:

  • Accurately plan what you can reasonably implement within a given timeframe, be honest. 

  • Structure purchases intelligently resisting the temptation of buying more than you can reasonably deploy. 

  • Negotiate a favourable set discount rate for a period of time with the vendor.  

  • Periodically review software utilisation metrics ensuring what’s being bought is getting deployed in a timely manner. 

  • Adjust your ROI expectations based upon experience to improve accuracy.

How an Enterprise Agreement can help:

  • You only purchase what you need, the fixed costs of an EA allow you to add without pricing challenges. 

  • No bulk purchase sitting unused and in need of implementation.

  • Software utilisation tracked and reported on in real-time in the EA Portal. 

  • Full analysis of deployment rates to track ROI for project justification.

Procurement Time

Most organisations will have a well-defined procurement process that may include signing authority threshold, required number of approvals, multiple bids and so on. Bureaucracy such as this often slows licence procurement down significantly, as the chain of communication is much longer than it needs to be.

A new employee could be waiting weeks for a single licence to a vital piece of software and without it their productivity is heavily diminished. The ad hoc purchase model always puts procurement in a constant state of transacting with little time for analysis, review and strategic recommendations to the different business units within the company. 

Having multiple regions further complicates the issues as cross region requisitions can often lead to duplication of efforts and in many cases, duplication of licences which cannot be returned for a refund.


What you can start doing today:

  • Run system reports on a scheduled basis to correlate install base vs purchased licences. 

  • Role assign specific procurement teams for certain technology sector globally. 

  • Review business strategy and bulk buy to avoid operational slowdown caused by an ad hoc purchase cycle.

How an Enterprise Agreement can help:

  • Immediate acquisition of new licences through a digital platform globally. 

  • Track licensing growth company wide through a central portal.

  • No mid year costs due to True-Forward mechanism for growth. 

  • Single contract globally thus eliminating licence and effort duplication.

  • Licensing model can be segmented by geography for simplified management.

Get a two-week review

Want to know how Cisco Enterprise Agreements can save you money and time? We offer a two-week review process that provides a clear understanding of your Cisco footprint and ways to restructure your IT architecture. The review process is completely free of charge and consists of three stages: call, sort and report. Book a chat to find out more!