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Are you taking advantage of Smart Software Licensing for your Cisco Nexus switches?

Say goodbye to the headaches of managing traditional software licenses.

July 28, 2020

Are you taking advantage of Smart Software Licensing for your Cisco Nexus switches?
Licensing at Cisco used to be comprised of three types: classic PAK (product activation key), right-to-use (pre-installed by Cisco) and cloud-based. One of the primary drawbacks of these licensing models was that customers had difficulty managing them. Classic PAK licenses, for instance, were delivered via email or printed on a piece of paper and shipped in the box with the device. Someone at the customer’s company had to manually enter the PAK into the product license registration portal to activate the license. Besides the problems of PAKs getting caught in spam filters or paper PAKs getting lost, the license key could only be viewed and accessed by the person who entered it into the tool, which led to information silos.  
Cisco created the Smart Account and Smart Licensing to simplify how license entitlement is received and managed to prevent loss and provide expanded access to licenses. The Smart License was designed to be digitally delivered into and managed in the Smart Account. Additionally, the Smart Account simplifies many previously complicated business processes, such as product returns.
Smart Software Licensing provides a single, standardized licensing solution for all of your Cisco products. It is a cloud-based licensing end-to-end platform that comprises tools and processes to authorize the usage and reporting of your Cisco products. It is designed to run on a product instance and communicate with the Cisco Cloud License Service through the Smart Call Home transport medium to complete product registration and authorization.
In the Smart Software Licensing model, you can activate licensed products with CLI (command-line interface) commands and without the use of a special software key or upgrade license file.
A software reboot may or may not be required depending on product capabilities and requirements. Similarly, downgrading or removing an advanced feature entails the removal of configurations or commands. After either of these actions is taken, the change in license state is noted by the Smart Software Manager during the next synchronization, and the appropriate action is taken.
Cisco Nexus 3000 and 9000 Series switches now support Smart Software Licensing
Beginning with Cisco NX-OS Release 9.3(3), all Cisco Nexus 3000 and 9000 Series switches (except the Cisco Nexus 3016 and 3064 platform switches) support Smart Software Licensing. Partners can purchase 1-, 3- or 5-year license subscriptions. Partners will need to choose one licensing model for each product purchased—you can’t use both traditional licensing and Smart Software Licensing at the same time.
The table below compares the key differences between the two licensing models:
Description Traditional Licensing Smart Software Licensing
License instance node-locked to the product instance Yes No
Product registration upon configuration No Yes
Offers tools to report, monitor, own and consume No Yes
Requires Smart Call Home No Yes
The licensing mode changes based on the configuration provided. If Smart Software Licensing is enabled, all license requests are passed to the CSSM (Cisco Smart Software Manager). If Smart Software Licensing is disabled, all license requests are fulfilled based on the license files installed on the device.
How to set up a Smart Account
Any Cisco partner with Cisco login credentials can request a Smart Account for their Nexus software licensing. Here are the four steps you should follow:
Step 1—Go to http://software.cisco.com, and log in to your account.
Step 2—Click the Request a Smart Account link in the Administration section.
Step 3—Perform one of the following tasks to select the Account Approver:
  • To select yourself as the approver, click Yes, I will be the Approver for the account option.
  • To select a different person as the approver, click No, the person specified below will be the Approver for the account option and specify the person’s email ID.
Note: The specified approver must have the authority to enter legal agreements. The approver serves as the primary owner and nominates account administrators.
Step 4—Depending on the approver type, perform one of the following procedures:
  • If you’re the approver, perform the following tasks:
    • Enter Account Name, Company/Organization Name, Country, and State/Province/Region information.
    • (Optional) Click Edit. In the Edit Account Identifier window, enter a valid Proposed Domain Identifier and Contact Phone Number and click OK.
  • Click Continue to select the legal address to be linked to your Smart account.
Follow the instructions in the email that’s sent to you to complete the request.
For more information on Cisco Nexus Smart Software Licensing, contact Elisabeth Hauser, senior solutions sales specialist at Ingram Micro.