Cisco ONE licensing for WLCs doesn’t really work, yet

Cisco ONE software licensing sounds great.  You get a pool of licenses to be shared by devices, so you don’t need to over-provision your licenses, and you get licenses returned when they’re no longer being used.  Want to upgrade to a new platform?  Great, just get the new hardware and point it at your C1 licenses and you’re ready to go!

Logging into the Cisco Licensing Portal currently gives me this splash image touting the ease of use that smart licensing and smart accounts bring.

Except it doesn’t really work.

Yes, if you look in the traditional licensing portal you’ll see a listing of C1 PAKs for your WLC AP licenses. And yes, those PAKs show the ability to be converted to smart licensing. But it doesn’t work. Every other C1 PAK converts properly, except for the AP PAKs.

Cisco Licensing Portal Splash image for Cisco ONE licenses

Oh the promises they make.

I don’t know about you, but for me the most important part of the C1 licensing is the ability to use the APs that we just purchased.  ISE and MSE do some things, but they are fancy software bits.  Basically useless without functioning hardware.

Fixing Cisco ONE licensing

After nearly a year of working with our VARs and Cisco reps we might have it figured out.  Cisco says the wireless business unit isn’t fully integrated with the Cisco ONE licensing model.  That explains why the PAKs can’t be converted via the portal.  Instead every time I place an order with a VAR I need to get the Cisco Sales Order number (SO#) and/or the VAR Purchase Order number (PO#) from the VAR.

I can then send an email to  The email needs to include the SO/PO#, my Cisco ID, and what I need converted.  To TACs credit they’re generally pretty quick to turn around fixed licenses. When done the licenses are in the Cisco Smart Software Licensing portal for use.

Since I don’t run ISE or MSE currently I can only observe that those licenses can be converted from PAKs without issue.

Low standards, raising the bar?

Licensing shouldn’t be this difficult.  I don’t know how a vendor can push this model on customers for two years and still not have it fully functional. This is a testament to the low standards to which vendors are held.

We shouldn’t put up with this kind of half-implemented over-promised baloney. My next PoC will include demonstrating how licenses are acquired, made available, and used for any product.  Maybe then the vendors will see by their own hand that licensing is a disaster.