Cisco simplifies software licences, by selling them under three programs

ONE Borg to rule them, ONE Borg to bing them …

Cisco reckons it's unravelled the secret to the popularity of open source networking software projects: licence management in the world of proprietary kit is a pain in the neck.

To deal with that, The Borg has decided to try out a revised licensing model on the world, under the banner Cisco ONE.

Cisco's picked off a couple of key irritants it hopes the Cisco ONE model will help take care of: the need to buy licences on a feature-by-feature basis; and second, the way that licences tied to hardware means a hardware refresh restarts the whole “what features do we want?” game.

That makes software licence management both expensive and complex.

Cisco ONE tries to deal with this in two ways: the software and the hardware are undergoing a trial separation (if not a full divorce); and instead of a licence and the metal ageing at the same rate, customers can take the alternatives of licensing on a subscription or enterprise license basis.

Over to Cisco ONE, which software strategy veep John Brigden calls a “a simplified solution to the most relevant, frequently-used customer scenarios in the data center, wide area network and local access networks”.

The Borg wasn't quite able to suck everything together into a single Cisco ONE. The three flavours are:

  • Cisco ONE for Access – covering access, aggregation and core switches;
  • Cisco ONE for WAN – including WAN management, security an optimisation feature licences;
  • Cisco ONE for Data Centre – go on, guess.

Vulture South does not, however, suppose Cisco's software is going to start popping up on bare metal switches anytime soon. However, we would certainly not be surprised to see "golden-screwdriver" upgrades popping up under the Cisco logo, with nought but a software licence needed to change a port from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps and beyond. Doing so could be one way for The Borg to battle software-on-white-box-switch players, by making the ability to scale or add features a software-defined attribute. ®

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