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9800 virtual controller and AIR-DNA licensing, can i go with legacy AP adder licenses instead of DNA subscription?

Temur Kalandia


i am planing to purchase 9800 virtual wireless controller with 100 x AIR-AP1815I-E-K9. questions are following :

1) can i go with legacy licensing model with AP adder licenses ?

2) if there is only AIR-DNA licenses, what will happen if subscription will expire ? all the features will remain in working conditions except DNA features?

3) in case of redundancy, what licenses do i need?

5 Replies 5

Ric Beeching
Rising star
Rising star

The following is my opinion, I highly reocmmend asking your partner/var these same questions to get the right deal and purchase the right options.

Why 1815 out of interest? If going through a refresh, the Catalyst 9k series APs might future proof more with the 802.11ax capabilities.

1) The 9800s require Smart Licensing so you'll probably need a DNA type license to use with them. The deployment guide specifies:

Access points support the following AIR licensing levels:

AIR Network Essential (AIR-NE)
AIR Network Advantage (AIR-NA)
AIR DNA Essential (AIR-DNA-E)
AIR DNA Advantage (AIR-DNA-A)

Cisco traditionally doesn't allow straight migration between WLC model/series types although depends how your legacy licenses are deployed. Either way, smart licensing is probably the way to go.

2) Unlike Meraki, the APs / WLCs etc will continue to operate once the licenses expire but in various limited capacities. For example, new APs may be unable to join the WLC as well as APs that have restarted; DNA features may not work if you are using it, and warnings will be presented regarding the expiration. Right now if Cisco Prime moves to an unlicensed state for example, there is a grace period before it becomes unusable.

3) The virtual 9800s support AP SSO when deployed in private cloud (your own infra). Therefore on that logic, you should be able to deploy two 9800s right now on the one license as the secondary will inherit the primary's licenses on failure. Should you find you need a license for that second 9800 virtual, you can always buy another one.

Again - Just my interpretation!

Please rate helpful / correct posts

thank for the response.


there is only two licenses available when you are purchasing products , these are:

AIR DNA Essential (AIR-DNA-E)
AIR DNA Advantage (AIR-DNA-A)


after expiration of above mentioned subscriptions: The AIR-DNA-A and AIR-DNA-E are the available license levels on the controller. You can configure as AIR-DNA-A or AIR-DNA-E license level and on term expiry, you can move to the Network Advantage or Network Essentials license level, if you do not want to renew the DNA license. ( )


it means that i will loose DNA features, but Network Advantage or Network Essentials will continue working. These Network essentials and Network advantage components are perpetual and is valid till the life of the AP.


the only thing i am interested is what does includes Network Advandage and Network Essesntials liceses in Wireless Controllers?

there is not document which describes that new APs may be unable to join the WLC as well as APs that have restarted.


p.s new ax series costs much expensive then 1815i.

No adder licences for 9800s all Smart Licencing, pretty sure its DNA licencing as well.

When subscription runs out, I have been told services remain running but you can not add new APs, or perform upgrades and you keep getting emails from Cisco.

Best to email

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Hello ,

       I have opened the case and discussed this with Cisco representative, below you can see the answers on my questions:

Q1.Can you please tell what will happen if the AIR-DNA subscription will expire?

This document ( ) tells that on term expiry, you can move to the Network Advantage or Network Essentials license level if you do not want to renew the DNA license.

A1. Yes. I  confirm that answer from that document.  When AIR-DNA subscription expired you will move to the Perpetual Network Stack.


Q2.After expiring AIR-DNA licenses, without purchasing any additional licenses, will the device continue working with perpetual licenses?

A2. Yes. That is right. Your device will continue to work with the perpetual license which is embedded in the hardware and it is activated by some of the DNA licenses.


Q3. Or do I need manually switch to essential or advantage licenses?

A3. No, this is not necessary to be done. Just, after expiration of the DNA E/A/P licenses, you will use the device without  DNA features and this is why we have the perpetual license


Q4.What features does Network advantage and essentials includes?

A4. For more details about Perpetual Network Stack refer here(page 10,24,25,26):


Q5.After expiration of AIR-DNA license, can I add new Aps?

A5. Yes, you can and how many new APs to be added depends on what kind of type WLC do you have.


Q6.Does after restarting existing APs, will they reconnect to WLC back?

A6. Yes, they should be able to connect again.


Dear Temur,


in ur case u have decided with 9800 and 1815 access points, what are others liceness u required to make things work?


have addedd DNA licenses for 1815  seprately to connect with 9800 WLC?



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