Cisco Enterprise License Agreements (ELA’s): What Are They and Why Are They Relevant?


IT environments have become increasingly complex. Digital transformation, a growing ecosystem of devices, and rapidly changing business needs has made it hard and frustrating for companies to predict, negotiate, and manage the software licenses needed to support the business.

As a result, IT giants have developed purchase agreements that seek to offer more streamlined and flexible ways for their customers to purchase software. Known as enterprise license agreements (ELAs), these programs allow customers to pick the right tool for the job without the delays that come with traditional licensing approaches.


The pros (and cons) of ELAs

A key appeal of ELAs is that they simplify and centralize and streamline licensing management by combining multiple technology portfolios under a single agreement for ease of purchasing across the organization. They also offer financial predictability and give customers access to the latest and greatest software so that they can scale to meet the changing needs of the business – at a significant discount.

But not all ELAs are created equal. Most agreements require a “true up” each year. This means that the number of licenses agreed upon at the time of signing – something that many organizations struggle to predict – is reviewed against actual usage. Much of the time, however, true up can lead to unexpected fees, extra time and management, and new budget headaches. Indeed, because of this, many customers find ELAs to be tedious to maintain and downright punitive.

As a result, the traditional ELA landscape is changing. As they struggle to manage complex hybrid IT environments, customers are looking for software providers who offer ELAs that are more flexible, easy to understand and manage, and can accommodate their changing needs to over time.


Cisco steps in to simplify software licensing

One company that has stepped up to the plate and tapped into customer need is Cisco. The Cisco Enterprise Agreement is a simplified ELA that offers more predictable budget management, with no surprises.

The Cisco EA software-buying program helps organizations buy, consume, and manage Cisco technology across the software portfolio with a 3- or 5-year cross-platform agreement and unified terms and conditions.

Easy to buy, customers have access to software catalogs across technology domains, including Cisco DNA; Cisco Collaboration; Cisco Data Center; and the Cisco Security platform.

Enrollments Cisco ELA

No more true ups

Cisco also offers the industry’s only “True Forward” feature that has no retroactive billing and no changes to the license pricing over the course of the agreement. Customers get instant access to new software when they need it and access to new software capabilities as they’re added to the suites. This infographic does a great job of explaining how True Forward works.


Visibility into all licenses procured

At the heart of the Cisco EA experience is the Cisco Enterprise Agreement Workspace, a centralized, enterprise-wide software license management and provisioning tool. IT teams get at a glance visibility into all licenses procured, deployed, and up for renewal so they always know where they stand. With cross-architecture co-termination of software licenses and annual billing, they save time managing renewals.


Cisco EA pricing benefits


Customers say Cisco EA lowers cost, reduces complexity, increases agility

It’s a unified approach to software licensing that Cisco customers love. According to a study by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), Cisco Enterprise Agreement lowers cost per license compared with a la carte licensing and reduces the licensing manpower by an average of 70%. Indeed, ESG predicts that over six years, a 38,000-client organization could save over $2.4 million largely through the elimination of licensing related tasks.

Cisco EA also saves hundreds of man-hours by providing instant access to the right license to complete the job. A U.S.-based health insurance company had this to say:

“Licensing used to be a full-time job of fairly mundane tasks. With Cisco EA our licensing tasks went from consuming 40 hours per week to 5 hours. This allowed us to shift these resources to a much more strategic role.”

Furthermore, with single-source access to all its software suites, customers save time and reduce training needs. While license portability makes it faster and easier to move software to a new device, without repurchasing licenses.

All this results in increased agility freeing up resources to focus on strategic efforts that drive business growth. With more and more customers adopting new technologies they are deploying new capabilities quicker and more easily.


Decide on the best path forward

ELAs can deliver powerful capabilities that streamline license management and save time and money. However, realizing the full value and avoid any surprises, organizations considering such an agreement must consider their goals and objectives.

If you’re interested in exploring Cisco Enterprise License Agreements, CDI can help inventory your current licensing and advise on the best path forward.

Contact us today to learn more.