Rant: Cisco claims “We’re Listening” to Simplifying Cisco Software Licensing

If this is the best that Cisco can manage when they are “listening” we have a huge problem. I’m paraphrasing from Cisco Blog » Blog Archive » The “We’re Listening” Blog Series: Simplifying Cisco Software Licensing.

We’ve heard you- our customers and partners- loud and clear on software licensing: you want a better Cisco software experience, from the time you request a quote to the time you activate your software. I’m happy to tell you that a better experience is coming, and you will start to see many improvements within the next few months.

Well, hoo-bloody-ray. Three years of barefaced pain and we _finally_ get some action. Or are we ?

As part of the Simplification initiative, our first step was to establish a standardized approach for licensing across all software products at Cisco. This new, contractual licensing approach will make it easier for you to get access to the software you’ve purchased,

Oh, so not changing anything, just a first step. In fact, more of the same. Is that what this says ? Lets see….

Many of you have already heard us talk about this new licensing approach, in presentations to our Enterprise Technical Advisory Board, Partner Operations Advisory Board, Partner Technical Advisory Board, Cisco Live! and in smaller focus groups

Nope. Not heard a thing. Must have been _really_ small groups.

Your positive feedback tells us we’re going in the right direction, while your suggestions have helped us make adjustments where needed. We’ll continue to keep you actively involved as we move forward to ensure that our solution meets your needs.

Choke, choke, cough cough. That’s a lot of lipstick on that pig. Can it breathe ?

In addition to standardizing our licensing, we are making significant improvements to our software management tools

Tools to help with licensing. Not sure that is the answer, but hey, some of those tools haven’t been updated or improved in five years so we could hope for some improvment.

Product Upgrade Tool (PUT) and Software eDelivery: Where customers and partners under contract with Cisco can retrieve production upgrade software.

Very few people have Cisco maintenance contracts because they are so expensive. So, that’s not useful. And partner contracts don’t allow customer access to any of these tools for software registration. How do you fix that mess ? FAIL.

Software Infrastructure and Fulfillment Technology (SWIFT) for product registrations – License Administration Portal:  Designed to support customer license transactions such as fulfillment of software licenses using Product Activation Keys (PAKs), license transfers, license information lookup and license resends.

That would be the portal that always ends with a TAC case to get the PAK fixed. And I don’t have a support contact so it’s a major pain to get licensing fixed. And the reseller can’t fix them either becuase they aren’t the customer (and that’s assuming the reseller even knows how to solve this issue).

Summer 2013: Completion of one software management portal where you can access all software management tools in one location

When factoring for “Cisco-time” that would late in 2014 then. That’s two years away. 

The EtherealMind View

I’m “so” glad that Cisco is listening. And I’m pretty disappointed that they are actually doing so little. Cisco licensing is total fail for customers and it’s costing my customers thousands of man hours to maintain the license suites and those costs are beginning to appear above the line.

This isn’t winning. I don’t care if you are listening, I want to see licensing simplified, removed from reseller dependency, free from TAC contract requirements and simplified. And when I say simplified, I mean a maximum of five license options for an entire product family.

I wish I could swear and cuss at length about the stupidity of Cisco licensing strategy. But, really, I’m too polite. Excuse me while I head off to punch out a wall.

Cisco Blog » Blog Archive » The “We’re Listening” Blog Series: Simplifying Cisco Software Licensing.

  • jla3742

    On the voice side of things, even as a customer who does pay for all of the Cisco support contracts (excluding Smartnet on phones), licensing is a joke. Now with the 9.0 suite, it’s changing yet again. The software entitlements are a joke – I’ve had several instances where I’ve been blocked from downloading voice software, but our networking guys can download them. How does that happen? PUT is a disaster, and eDelivery is comical. I’ve literally had times where it has taken longer to get eDelivery licensing than paper licensing. WTF? Agree with you on SWIFT – way too many instances where I have to talk to TAC to get something fixed.

    Video is an ever bigger joke. If I order a video unit with 5.x software, and it ships with 4.x software, why does it take an act of congress to get a release key for 5.x software? At a minimum, I should be given the 5.x key in the box or via e-mail. I shouldn’t even have to ask for it! Instead, I get the runaround, and am told that my warranty expired a week before I ever even received the unit. Then, I have to get special approval from the product manager? I realize that Cisco is still folding the Tandberg stuff in, but this is just absurd.

  • alvarezp

    For me it’s a matter of what I’m buying. Am I buying a router or a program? For the price of the hardware I would expect the device to have their full potential available with no cripples AT ALL. If the hardware can do it then don’t limit my use on it, it’s like buying a fridge and not having a license to store chicken in it.

    What would it mean for me to have a simple licensing scheme? It’s easy: only sell Advanced Enterprise and give me ALL the updates for the same minor release for free. It’s horrible to tell a customer: “yeah, your router _can_ do it, it is physically able, but it _won’t_ unless you buy a minor but expensive software upgrade; oh, and by the way, since your router it’s near its EoL now, it’s just not worth it” or “yeah, your router is vulnerable to this attack, but you have to pay for the fix even though it’s Cisco’s own fault”.

  • John McGrath

    How about a Cisco Certification track that all resellers must complete before they can resell Cisco licenses? How man hours are wasted getting a proper quotation from Cisco through resellers that do not know how navigate the Licensing maze and get ALL of the proper licenses in the quote.

    @alverezp: It seems that you are buying both, but the delivery processes for each item (hardware, software, licenses, etc…) have been designed by insane Vogons.

    @jla3742: I feel your pain. We are purchasing a Cisco phone system to upgrade our old one, and getting a proper quote for all of the hardware and licenses has taken ALL summer. This alone has put us behind schedule by three weeks, and will Cisco delivery delays, we are 6 weeks behind.

    Yes, I know this is trivial compared to last year when Cisco was up to 3 months behind in delivery… But really Cisco? Where is the value in purchasing products where you are not able to recieve hardware on promise dates, licensing processes are so foggy that even the resellers don’t know what they are selling, and the TAC has little idea what to do to resolve these matters in a timely manner?