Rant: It’s a Yes / No Question & Cisco IOS Software Licensing hell begins here

I was looking into the stacking and licensing of Cisco 3750-E switches today looking for the answer to a simple question. Do all switches in a Cisco stack need to have purchased the IP Services license ?

We have an existing stack with a C3750 and C3750-E. The C3750 has Enterprise code, and the C3750-E has IP Services license. I need to add another C3750-E but it doesn’t have the IP Services license. So, do I need to buy the license so that it will work ? (Yeah, I’ve got that sinking feeling about now)

So I do a bit of googling and find this :

Cisco Catalyst 3750-E Series Switches: Questions and Answers – Cisco Systems:

“Q. In a stack of Cisco Catalyst 3750-E switches, must the same type of feature set be used on each switch?
A. StackWise Plus combines powerful failover capabilities with unified software management. By using the same type of feature set on each switch in a stack, failover and software management features work as designed: simply and transparently.”


Which marketing dweeb wrote this crud ? Can’t you just answer the question ? It was clearly a YES or NO answer. I don’t need an advertisement in an answer for a technical question. Just “YES it does” or “NO it doesn’t”.

And I shouldn’t have to contact Technical Support for the answer to a straightforward question. And because our reseller who provides our Cisco maintenance is such a bunch of goonheads there is no way we can ask them for an answer (they’ll just ask me to reboot the switch or upgrade to the latest version – again). This is far to complex for them to understand.


Does anyone know the answer ? Please leave a comment or get in contact via contact page PLEASE.

Licensing Hell

And so the licensing hell begins. How many licenses ? Which ones ? How do I retrieve licenses ? And transfer them.

I’m just whining cause I’m used to the old way, but the cost of ownership on Cisco gear has increased by quite a bit on already expensive equipment.

  • BenG

    First off, you need a better partner if they can’t answer a question like that.

    And two, yes you can do that. You’ll want to ensure that at least two switches in the stack are licensed for IP Services and have a stack priority higher than the IP Base switches.

    • D’Wayde

      You’ll also want to ensure that they have the same IOS, you can download the Universal IOS from Cisco.com

  • http://www.myriadsupply.com saar harel

    Pretty old post but what the hell.

    LAN base only stack with LAN base and will not stack with anything else.

    IP base and IP services can be stacked in a mix.

    You would need to give the master and the slave the IP services license.

    If the slave is an IP base, then when it becomes a master your stack will be
    IP base stack {wasted IP services

    Cisco Best Practices recommend ALL switches be IP services.

    The reason is to avoid degrading the stack to IP base.

    The second reason is when you upgrade the Stack, if you have a MIX, then the stack will all get upgraded to IP

    this will make you violate Cisco licensing as your IP base switches now run IP
    services illegally.

    this is a jail-able offense {not}

    So technically, if you have a mix you have to split the stack and upgrade each
    IP base stack then the IP services
    stack. Then join them back again.

    Q. Can a Cisco
    Catalyst 3750-X Series Switch with LAN Base software be used in any Cisco
    Catalyst 3750 stack?

    A. No. LAN Base models can stack
    only with other LAN Base models.

    Q. Can a Cisco
    Catalyst 3750-X LAN Base switch be upgraded to IP Base and stacked with any
    Cisco Catalyst 3000 switch?

    A. Yes. Once a Cisco Catalyst
    3750-X LAN Base switch is upgraded to IP Base or IP Services, it can be stacked
    with any non-LAN Base switch or stack.


    Master Switch Election

    The stack behaves as a single switching unit
    that is managed by a master switch elected from one of the member switches. The
    master switch automatically creates and updates all the switching and optional
    routing tables. Any member of the stack can become the master switch. Upon
    installation, or reboot of the entire stack, an election process occurs among
    the switches in the stack. There is a hierarchy of selection criteria for the

    1. User priority –
    The network manager can select a switch to be master.

    2. Hardware and software priority – This
    will default to the unit with the most extensive feature set. The Cisco
    Catalyst 3750 IP Services (IPS) image has the highest priority, followed by
    Cisco Catalyst 3750 switches with IP Base Software Image (IPB).

    Catalyst 3750-E and Catalyst 3750-X run the
    Universal Image. The feature set on the universal image is determined by the
    purchased license. The “show version” command will list operating
    license level for each switch member in the stack.

    3. Default
    configuration – If a switch has preexisting configuration information,
    it will take precedence over switches that have not been configured.

    4. Uptime –
    The switch that has been running the longest is selected.

    5. MAC address –
    Each switch reports its MAC address to all its neighbors for comparison. The
    switch with the lowest MAC address is selected.

    Cisco IOS Software Images Must Be Identical

    The Cisco StackWise technology requires that all
    units in the stack run the
    same release of Cisco IOS Software. When the stack is first built, it is
    recommended that all of the stack members have the same software feature set –
    either all IP Base or all IP Services. This is because later upgrades of Cisco
    IOS Software mandate that all the switches to be upgraded to the same version
    as the master.

    Upgrades Apply to All Devices in the Stack

    Because the switch stack behaves like a single
    unit, upgrades apply universally to all members of the stack at once. This
    means that if an original stack contains a combination of IP Base and IP
    services software feature sets on the various switches, the first time a Cisco
    IOS Software upgrade is applied, all units in the stack will take on the characteristic
    of the image applied. While this makes it much more efficient to add
    functionality to the stack, it is important to make sure all applicable upgrade
    licenses have been purchased before allowing units to be upgraded from IP Base
    .to IP Services functions. Otherwise, those units will be in violation of Cisco
    IOS Software policy.


    Q. Do the Cisco Catalyst 3650 switches require a product
    activation key (PAK) for licensing?

    A. No. No PAK is required for software licensing in Cisco
    Catalyst 3650 switches. Cisco Catalyst 3650 switches use a trust-based RTU
    licensing model. While placing the order, the customer specifies the license
    requirement and receives an electronic license or paper license for entitlement
    purpose only.