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The Cisco software simplification initiative

So far, do you think Cisco's software simplification initiative is a success?

Hershey, PA: Fri, 9/7/12 - 8:24am    View comments

CiscoCurtis Hill6-months ago, Cisco quietly launched its software simplification initiative.

Never heard of it?

Well, you're not alone!

However this week, Cisco's vice president of technical services and customer assurance, Curtis Hill, published:

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

"We launched the Cisco software simplification initiative in March of this year to aggressively address our software lifecycle from end-to-end, including licensing, in order to provide you with a vastly simplified and consistent software experience.

"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, while providing a shared, accurate view of your software assets, so that you can manage your software versions and licenses more efficiently. We've also included many of the features you've been asking for, such as license pooling, simpler product registration and entitlement transfers, and a single software asset manager that will track all Cisco software usage within your network."

In addition to claiming standardizing licensing, Cisco's also claiming significant improvement to the following Cisco software management tools:

  1. Cisco eDelivery Tool (requires special access)

    Learn more about the Cisco Partner and Distributor eDelivery program.

  2. Cisco Software Delivery System (SDS)

    Self-service access to patches, fixes, updates and upgrades.

  3. Cisco Product Upgrade Tool (PUT) and Software eDelivery

    Where customers and partners under contract with Cisco can retrieve production upgrade software.

  4. Cisco Software Infrastructure and Fulfillment Technology (SWIFT) for product registrations - License Administration Portal

    Designed to support Cisco's customer license transactions such as fulfillment of software licenses using Product Activation Keys (PAKs), license transfers, license information lookup and license resends

Timeline of the Cisco software simplification initiative:


  • Spring

    Cisco Account Managers provide customers immediate assistance with Collaboration products through Cisco's internal licensing escalation desk. This desk is currently operating in the US and Canada, with plans to expand to Latin America and Asia by spring of 2013.

    Cisco will gather data from its licensing escalation desk cases to ensure Cisco proactively resolves problems before releasing new products.

  • Summer

    Cisco will roll-out additional products aligned with its standard licensing approach and complete one software management portal where you can access all software management tools in one location.

Cisco software simplification initiativeI recommend that all questions, suggestions and complaints about the Cisco software simplification initiative be addressed to:

Curtis Hill's email address: and/or cell phone: 408-930-7679

As well as Cisco's generic email address:

Greg FerroMeanwhile, Cisco CCIE #6920 Routing and Switching (Emeritus / 10 year), Greg Ferro, is none too impressed with the 6-month old Cisco software simplification initiative (at least so far):

Rant: Cisco claims "We're Listening" to Simplifying Cisco Software Licensing

"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."

In my personal opinion, some of the comments made earlier this week to Ferro's rant are quite revealing:

"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."

"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."

"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?"

Related story:

Forced Cisco Obsolescence

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