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Cisco ISE 3.0 License FAQ

Q and A Item

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Updated:November 2, 2020

Available Languages

Download Options

  • PDF
    (170.9 KB)
    View with Adobe Reader on a variety of devices
Updated:November 2, 2020


Q.  What does the new license model look like?
A.  Cisco ® Identity Services Engine (ISE) 3.0 introduces new license types. These licenses are in the same format as DNAC licenses, bringing the same approach to ISE. The three tiers of ISE licenses are Essentials, Advantage, and Premier. These replace the ISE Base, Plus and Apex licenses. These are in the nested doll model, which means that the features in Essentials license are included within Advantage and features in Advantage are included in Premier. The features in each license are as follows.


Premier (Full Stack)

  Posture Enforcement
  MDM Enforcement
  TC-NAC Enforcement
  DCS Enforcement
  Posture Visibility
  MDM Visibility
  TC-NAC Visibility


  User-Defined Network


Advantage (Context)

  Context Sharing (pxGrid Out/In)
  Profiling Enforcement
  Group-Based Policy (TrustSec)
  Location Enforcement
  BYOD (+CA, +MDP)
  Profiling Visibility
  DCS Visibility
  Location Visibility


Essentials (User Visibility and Enforcement)


  AAA and 802.1X
  Guest (Hotspot, Self-Reg, Sponsored)
  Easy Connect (PassiveID)
Q.  Are any of these perpetual licenses?
A.  All the license types above are subscription based. They are offered in 1-, 3-, and 5-year terms. The new license types, Essentials, Advantage, and Premier, replace the Base, Plus, and Apex licenses. These do no impact Device Administration, VMs, and IPSec licenses.
Q.  What is the benefit of the new license structure compared to the previous one?
A.  These licenses are introduced based on feedback from customers. The key driver was making licenses simple across Cisco products. Hence, with this change, Cisco is aligning ISE licenses with DNAC licenses to make it easier to understand the tiers across the networking portfolio.
The new licenses adopt a nested tier structure, whereby, Premier contains all of the features in Advantage plus some additional features; Advantage contains all of the features in Essential plus some additional features. This allows customers to purchase only Advantage or only Premier if needed.
Q.  Do I need to purchase Essentials first before purchasing Advantage or Premier?
A.  No, with the new model, a customer can directly purchase Premier or Advantage licenses without the need for an Essentials license.
Q.  Can I buy a mix of Cisco ISE Essentials, Advantage, and Premier licenses and install them?
A.  Yes, one can purchase and install a combination of Essentials, Advantage, and Premier licenses as needed.
Q.  How do these licenses compare vis-à-vis the old licenses?
A.  The new licenses have a different model compared to the old Base, Plus, and Apex licenses. Having said that, one can think of Essentials as being equivalent to a Base and an Advantage as being equivalent to a Base and Plus, while a Premier is equivalent to a Base, Plus, and Apex together.
Q.  How do I receive the new ISE licenses?
A.  The new licenses have a different model compared to the old Base, Plus, and Apex licenses. The main two being - 1) a nested tier compared to a lego like mode earlier; and 2) Smart Only.
One can think of Essentials as being equivalent to a Base and an Advantage as being equivalent to a Base and Plus, while a Premier is equivalent to a Base, Plus, and Apex together.
The new licenses are Smart License only. This means there will be no PAKs and customers will require a Smart Account to purchase and consume the licenses.
Q.  Can I use my existing ISE licenses on the ISE 3.0 software release?
A.  No, ISE 3.0 will need the new ISE Essentials, Advantage, or Premier licenses. Customers can migrate their ISE Base, Plus, and Apex licenses to the corresponding ISE Essentials, Advantage, and Premier licenses. The ISE Base licenses will migrate to the new subscription model. Please follow the migration guide in the ISE Migration Guide.
Q.  When a customer upgrades to Cisco ISE 3.0, will all of the features work after device reboot?
A.  If upgrading to 3.0 from an existing 2.X release, it is required that a customer migrate their existing licenses to the new licenses and then upgrade to the 3.0 release. Please refer to the Migration Guide for instructions.
Features on ISE 3.0 will be based on the Feature-License mapping as displayed above.
Q.  How do renewals work?
A.  Customers who are on ISE 2.X can continue to purchase the Plus and Apex licenses for renewals. Customers who are upgrading to ISE 3.0 will need to convert their licenses to the new structure. Renewals of the new licenses will be the same after that. Please refer to the migration guide on migrations and renewals.
Q.  Will I be notified before my license expires?
A.  Yes, ISE will continue to follow the same notification as before with notification on expiry beginning at 90 days prior to expiry.
Q.  Does basic ISE behavior change with the new licenses?
A.  No, we have retained the behavior of ISE with respect to licenses as before. For example, the license expiry notifications, behavior of ISE on expired licenses, and grace periods are still the same.
Q.  Is there any impact to Device Administration or the VM licenses?
A.  No, there is no impact to the ISE VM licenses. There is no change to the Device Administration license either. However, one benefit is that the ISE Device Administration license/s can now be installed directly and will NOT require any license as a prerequisite.
Q.  What support do customers receive with the new ISE licenses?
A.  The same as with current subscription licenses. With the new ISE software licenses, customers receive embedded SWSS—which covers 24x7x365 Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) support and software updates. However, now Essentials will also have this support.

Cisco Smart Accounts

Q.  What is a Smart License and why should I care?
A.  Smart Licensing is a new, flexible software-licensing model that simplifies the way customers activate and manage licenses across their organization. Instead of using Product Activation Keys (PAKs), Smart Licenses establish a pool of software licenses in a customerdefined Smart Account that can be used throughout the enterprise.
Q.  What are Smart Accounts? Why should I care?
A.  Smart Accounts are mandatory for any subscription. They help identify and connect the right customer account into which the subscription licenses purchased by the customer will be deposited before they may be used. The combination of Smart Licensing and Smart Accounts delivers visibility into your license ownership and consumption (through a cloud portal) to help you reduce operational costs.
Q.  What software products offer Smart Account and Smart License capabilities?
A.  More and more Cisco products are offered only through a Smart Account, including Cisco ISE software.
Q.  How do I view and use a Smart License?
A.  License availability and consumption through a Smart License is visible through a portal called Cisco Smart Software Manager (CSSM). All licenses that are deposited and consumed are clearly visible through the user id and password provided for the Smart or Virtual Account for each customer.
Q.  What software products offer Smart Licenses?
Q.  Where can I learn more about Cisco Smart Software Licensing and Smart Accounts?

Cisco Enterprise Agreement

Q.  A customer would like to upgrade from Cisco ISE Advantage to Premier within an Enterprise Agreement (EA). Can they upgrade the license tier mid-term?
A.  Yes. Within an EA, customers can upgrade from Cisco ISE Advantage to Premier and receive a 100 percent credit for the residual Cisco ISE Advantage term. The customer would pay for the upgrade at True Forward.
Q.  What value do I receive through a Cisco EA?
A.  Cisco EA enables accelerated value realization. Some of the key value additions are:

      Easy to buy: Three simple and flat-rate pricing tiers, financial predictability, upfront or annual payment terms, a cross-platform buying platform, unique value within each enrollment, Not To Exceed (NTE) Pricing, simplified installation base assessment, ability to upgrade tiers, and payable at True Forward.

      Easy to consume: True Forward (no retroactive billing), access to new software capabilities, on-demand deployment, flexibility of bandwidth growth within a tier without additional cost.

      Easy to manage: Know where you stand with an EA workspace, co-termination of software subscriptions, and service-level assurance.

Q.  Which type of customers should consider EA?
A.  Customers who are looking for the following should consider EA:

      Standardization: Cross-architecture standardization

      Full coverage: 100 percent organization coverage

      Ease of management: Centralized license management, co-termination, and procurement

      Predictability: Predictable budget and pricing

      Relationship: Strategic multiyear relationship

Q.  Can I still buy Cisco ONE through EA, as before?
A.  No. Cisco EA will offer Cisco ISE Advantage or Premier.
Q.  I have an active Cisco ISE subscription through an EA. How will the migration to Cisco ISE subscription work?
A.  There is no change required to their current licensing; all existing licenses will still be valid. As always, we recommend customers use a supported ISE Software release in their production deployment.

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