Cisco's cloud network push will tie licensing change to generational product refreshes

Bundled support has already come to Catalyst – but don't bother asking how it works

Cisco has quietly introduced changes to the licensing model for its Catalyst range, and will bring it to more products over time.

The new licenses bundle payments for hardware, software, and support – not a massive conceptual leap, but one that Cisco customers have asked for to simplify the necessary chore of managing their affairs.

Licenses will also allow deployment of Cisco products on-prem or in the cloud.

Deals will also be consistent across Cisco's range.

The networking giant won't introduce the updated licenses all at once. Instead, they'll be tied to generational change for its major product ranges.

"Major license transitions make customers unhappy if you do it within the product lifecycle," explained Brink Sanders, Cisco's vice president for global networking experiences, at the networking giant's Live event in Melbourne, Australia.

The plan to change licenses along with products is part of Cisco's effort to create a "Networking Cloud" that, across the three days of Cisco Live Melbourne, The Register came to understand as not so much a product or technology or an attempt to change the way Cisco engages with its customers.

Licensing is one change. The "magnetic" design framework that debuted in the UI for Cisco's Meraki range – and will eventually come to all Cisco products – is another. Integration with Cisco's security, observability, and user experience tools is another, as the switch king strives to ensure that networks aren't just reliable but can also be managed in accordance with business needs.

In the Melbourne event's keynote address, regional Asia Pacific and Japan president Dave West looked back to the year 2000 – when he said networking was still about mere feeds and speeds, contrasting that with Cisco's emphasis on a broader ownership experience.

That emphasis means Cisco sometimes doesn't even mention its products to customers, according to Jacqui Guichelaar, senior veep for customer experience across Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China. In a panel session, Guichelaar recalled customer meetings in which she told execs Cisco has tech to achieve an outcome, only briefly referring to its name.

But some speeds and feeds still matter to Cisco. Execs pointed out that the G200 switch ASIC can handle 51.2Tbit/sec – putting Cisco in the game for AI networks, which execs believe will inevitably run Ethernet as nobody likes a silo. Nvidia, meanwhile, recently reported a fivefold increase in InfiniBand sales.

Cisco execs also made much of the G200's miserly power consumption, and the contribution that will make to customers' sustainability efforts.

Indeed, at Cisco Live The Register probably heard more references to measuring carbon dioxide than IOPS. ®

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