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New Deployment Method for Smart Licensing





Starting November 6th, IOS-XE software version 17.3.2 for campus networking devices and NextGen platforms will simplify the End Customer’s operations by removing the initial software use compliance and the on-going communication with the Cisco cloud. Also, registration before use will not be required for software use compliance, though software use reporting will be needed.

Easier, faster, and more consistent

New Deployment Method for Smart Licensing simplifies the way End Customers activate and manage their licenses.  SL now supports simpler and more flexible offer structures, allowing customers to have an easier, faster, and more consistent way to purchase, renew, or upgrade their licenses.  

  • No evaluation mode at product boot, no registration required to
  • No on-going communication with Cisco cloud per device
  • Reporting of software use is required
  • No network deployment operating expense

This new version supports following Cisco products: Cisco Catalyst 9000 series switches, routing platforms such as the ASR1K, ISR1K, ISR4K, Cisco Catalyst 9800 Series Wireless Controllers, IOT routers and switches, and a few Collab products (CME, SRST, CUBE). The Data Center products (ACI, NX-OS and MDS) will enable this licensing model in Q3FY21.


Customers and Partners can upgrade their devices to the newest version of IOS-XE [17.3.2 (available via Software Download) and 17.4.1 (coming soon)].

  • New purchases of Smart Licensing-enabled products with the new IOS-XE version will automatically be enrolled in this new deployment method, starting Dec 4th 2020 in the Cisco Commerce Workspace (CCW).
  • After implementing ‘Smart Licensing Using Policy’, customers are responsible for submitting usage reports per the reporting policy installed on their devices instead of registering each device through their Smart Account on Cisco Smart Software Manager (CSSM).
  • Partners can continue placing orders via Holding Account. The uploading of software usage report from a customer network to their Smart Account will automatically transfer the purchased assets from the Holding Account to the customer Smart Account.


If you have support questions about Smart Accounts and Software Licensing, open a case via Support Case Manager (SCM). To learn more on how to open a case in SCM, click here.


Important Note:

Issue: Usage generated from products connected to On-Prem is not accepted by CSSM.

Root Cause: On-Prem CSSM does not support SL Using Policy yet.

Impact: Usage generated on products running 17.3.2 release cannot be parsed by CSSM when uploaded on offline mode. So users are not able to get ack back.

Action Plan: There is no impact on product or functionality for not receiving ack back from CSSM. No syslogs are thrown. Recommendation is to continue running the 17.3.2 software for now. When Cisco releases 17.3.3 and On-Prem CSSM supporting SL Using Policy end of March, upgrade both the product and On-Prem CSSM to use SL Using Policy mode. After upgrades are done new reports will be processed by CSSM. Older reports might be dropped but latest consumption is recorded in CSSM.



Smart Licensing FAQ Document - including Smart Licensing Using Policy

Smart Licensing Using Policy Configuration Guide

Smart License Using Policy Product Roadmap (Subject to Change)

Cisco Smart License Utility (CSLU) Download

CSLU Guide

Introduction to Smart License Using Policy Video: English, Chinese (Mandarin)Chinese (Traditional)JapaneseKorean


Smart Licensing Using Policy Demo Videos

Title Video
CSLU Windows: Install, Set up, Uninstall

CSLU connected with device initiated workflows (PUSH mode)

CSLU connected with device initiated workflows (PULL mode)
CSLU connected to Product Instance and disconnected from Cisco

No CSLU - Product instance direct-connect using trust token

No CSLU - Product instance direct-connect to get authorization code for HSECK9 license
No CSLU, product instance air-gapped - get offline RUM/ACK and Auth-request
Brownfield upgrade – SL EVAL, Registered, RTU (focus on reporting)
Brownfield upgrade – PAK (focus on auth-codes)
Brownfield upgrade – SLR (focus on auth-codes)


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If it is still required to report on license usage then it seems that this is reverting to pure trust based manual license operation, or what do I miss?


Announcing this with 15 days notice isn't great... Especially since the information currently available is "thin" to say the least.


I've been discussing this with our Cisco reps and the BU and I'm hoping the following information that I have received so far will help provide some clarity. The licensing options prior to this announcement were SL, SLR and PLR. On Oct 30th the BU will add another option, Smart Licensing Enhanced (SLE), to the group of licensing options. As of Oct 30th the licensing options will be SL, SLE (minimum of IOS XE 17.3.2), SLR and PLR. Devices that support 17.3.2+ will have SLE enabled by default and will not be required to check in or register. The only exception to this is if the device needs to change its service level.


I sent a follow on message asking for additional clarity on the following:

1 - Will this affect any/all current devices that are upgraded to 17.3.2XE or is just for new devices shipping with 17.3.2XE?

2 - Will this automatically change the way my currently deployed devices will register once they have been upgraded to 17.3.2 or above?

3 - Will I have the option to manually change to SLE as a registration method once a device is upgraded to 17.3.2XE or above?


I will post a follow up once I receive a response to these questions.


Hope this is helpful,

Chuck McFadden


(please mark helpful post as helpful)


Further clarification, as promised:

It appears that this is only for new devices that are shipping with 17.3.2 and above. The bottom line APPEARS to be that new devices will not be shipping with the 90-day trial license and instead will just work at the subscription level that is installed at the time of shipment. As we likely all know, the trial license has really never meant anything because it will work regardless. Apparently the new devices will no longer have the trial license and, instead, can be registered via SL, SLR, PLR or the new SLE. This should not affect any existing devices. Bottom line from what I am hearing is that even though the message is a bold yellow banner on the Cisco Software page this isn't really that big of a deal.


I stated "APPEARS" above because I do not work for Cisco and I'm only passing along my interpretation of the information that I am getting from them. So my final suggestion on this topic would be to discuss this issue with your Cisco support staff, or open a ticket with TAC as suggested in the "Support" section of the original post.

Hope this is helpful,

Chuck McFadden


(please mark helpful post as helpful)


I have a 4461 with PLR licenses with a few sip phones registered against it. The router is isolated but we use it for internal communications. When i upgraded from 17.3.1a (which along with all previous versions works fine) to 17.3.2 as a test. The SIP service failed to load, it was pending a license report acknowledgement, I assume that meant a transport to or from cisco (it didnt seem to be a eula type of acknowledgement). Does anyone know if this deployment type is no longer feasible with 17.3.2? Its a bit annoying that they change the way things work on the fly. I know i should probably just not upgrade, but there is something annoying when you have a fairly new product and have to stop using the latest releases because they make something non-functional. 


the error was: %SIP-1-LICENSING: SIP service disabled until license report is acknowledged


this seems contrary to the general release notes, as the intent seemed to be make the licensing more flexible out of the box not more restrictive. Based on that error it appears an isolated router cant run in PLR unless I am missing a command etc that will allow it to proceed.


***edit, so the video was helpful, but truthfully I hate it more now then i did before heh


UPDATE: I have been informed that DNAC will work as a proxy for CSSM.


Original comment:

Our 90+ NADs were deployed using RFC1918 addresses and are not allowed outside of the SDA underlay. This was purpose built and would be quite an undertaking to redesign. We register the NADs via SLR using DNAC as the proxy (License Manager-->All Licenses-->Actions-->Manage License Reservation-->Enable License Reservation). This method has been working fairly well for more than two years. With the new licensing model will DNAC work as a proxy to CSSM or will we now need to use the new CSLU?

Thank you!

Chuck McFadden


(please mark helpful post as helpful)


When will this be available for FirePower Hardware, like 2110, etc, and ASA's ?




Here's a question: What about the on-prem CSSM VM (I think it used to be called the SSM Satellite)? We have a lot of product instances registered on it. Are we going to have to migrate them all over to a VM running CSLU?


Personally, I'm finding this to be a mixed bag. On one hand, it's nice that we don't have to worry about evaluation licenses anymore. On the other hand, I don't like the fact that CSLU runs on Windows only. It appears the Linux VM is getting replaced by it for similar on-prem functionality so that basically means I now have to spin up a Windows VM to run CSLU so it'll always be on for the devices to do their regular reporting. We have too many devices to do the manual reporting option on them.



i'd like to see the last 2 videos (brownfield upgrade) for the disconnected CSLU and the no CSLU with air gapped.

Thanks a lot!


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