Flex Licensing Means Cloud Migration

According to IDG Research, nine out of ten companies will have some part of their applications or infrastructure in the cloud in 2019, and the rest expect to follow by 2021. According to Cisco, cloud traffic will represent 92% of all data center traffic by 2020. And if you listen to Forbes Magazine, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. The numbers and trends tell us that “Cloud First” is not just a business and network architecture strategy, it is the preferred path for how networks are consuming IT. The manufacturing vendors in our networks are listening and “are all in”; empowering our IT organization for Cloud migration.

Flex Licensing and BYOL is How We Get There

For some time now, the marketplace has seen the manufacturers that support our IT infrastructures such as Cisco, HPE, Palo Alto, and Juniper move to a flexible licensing model. Whether it be term-based subscriptions or via an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA), vendors are providing licensing for our solutions that aid our IT organization with cloud adoption and cloud migration. You can license a firewall for example, as a Bring Your Own License (BYOL), and turn up the firewall in the public cloud.

Turning Up a Meraki vMX100 Firewall in AWS


On-Prem to Cloud via Flexible Licensing

Firewalls are usually stand-alone products or services designed to protect an enterprise network and its users. If our applications and software are no longer in our on-premise data center but now live in the cloud, then we need a flexible way of migrating the premise-based firewall to a Cloud-Firewall that protects our software-as-a-service (SaaS). Another cloud-based firewall service we can turn-up is the firewall application running on a virtual server that protects traffic going to, from, and between applications in the cloud. So now our premise-based firewall has become a Firewall-as-a-Services (FaaS).

When we buy a firewall, we buy the licensing and ongoing subscriptions for its use and for its threat protection services. The licensing of the firewall has always been host-based or licensing directly attached to the serial number of that unique firewall appliance. If you upgraded to new hardware, you re-purchased your licenses and subscriptions. If you needed to stand up a new firewall instance, you would buy an additional host-based firewall license. In some cases, you could pay the manufacturer an upgrade fee and for a discount, compared to a net-new license, you could re-host your licensing to the new hardware. With cloud adoption being the first choice in how the enterprise consumes IT, manufacturers have had to change their licensing structure by the configuration and activation of a token.

Token Activation Means Pooling and not Re-hosting

Cisco Registration Token Via Cisco Smart Account

Now when we buy a license for our product, the manufacturer provides us a registration token. This token represents the instance of our product and we no longer care where our solution lives, on-prem or cloud-based. The token is now pooled and kept in a licensing account. And we can move our registration token wherever we need it. If we close a branch office but turn up a new cloud service, we pull our token from our on-premise firewall and now use it as our license token for our virtual cloud firewall – pretty neat stuff!

With an enterprise license agreement (ELA), you can manage the license pool available to deploy your organization’s devices and subsequent subscriptions included in the agreement. As an administrator, you will manage and deploy your registration tokens, and can even grant other administrators in your organization the ability to manage their own ELA token pools. One of the primary advantages of the Cloud is its Elasticity in the scaling up and scaling down of services as your organization needs it. Flexible ELA licensing allows your organization to pool its token-based device registrations meaning your licensing is now, just as Elastic.

802.11 WLAN – Another Example of Flexible Licensing

As an enterprise solutions architect in the Pacific Northwest, I have the privilege to be invited into amazingly diverse and challenging networks. All of the IT organizations I support are in some stage of cloud adoption. Most of the network architecture we see these organizations deploy in their organizations are distributed by design. No business today can afford single points of failure in its network. To promote resiliency and redundancy, organizations are extending their critical services to the cloud. The 802.11 wireless LAN can now have its distributed architecture extended to the cloud with flexible wireless access point licensing.

Wireless access points were always host-based licensed to their wireless LAN management controller (WLC). As the wireless network grew, the 802.11 WLC infrastructure scaled out and became distributed across the organization to optimize wireless traffic patterns, and to eliminate single points of WLC failure. The trend now in today’s enterprise, is to stand up virtual wireless controllers as virtual appliances either in the on-prem data center or in the cloud. Wireless access points are now licensed as tokens that can move to anywhere you want to put your virtual wireless LAN controller. When you need to shift your wireless architecture from on-prem to cloud, your wireless access point licenses go with you.

Today, manufacturer token-based licensing promotes your organization’s cloud adoption strategy. If you want to stand up a net new network device in the cloud, here is your token. If you need to migrate from on-prem to the cloud, take your token back and spin up your new AWS EC2 instance Elastically and with agility.

Here’s hoping that your license tokens bring you Amplitude, Enormity, and Magnitude with your Zeros and Ones – KM

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