Cisco Communications Manager 8.6 Licenses End of Sale

A few weeks ago, buried in a slew of other end of sale announcements from Cisco was the end of Communications Manager (CUCM) 8.6 licenses. No big deal right? After all, CUCM 9 and CUCM 10 are now out in the field and are being used for new deployments.

Actually, yes, it is a big deal and is going to result in a load more disappointed, and disillusioned Cisco customers. Some of which will abandon the good ship Cisco for good.

There are numerous older deployment of CUCM (version 7.1 through 8.6) out there, and they are working perfectly well. Once the CUCM 8.6 licenses are no longer available (January 2015), customers will not be able to add new users to these systems – unless they upgrade to a newer version first. If customers haven’t kept on top of their horrifically complicated and expensive UCSS and ESW entitlements, this means they will need to pay for these upgrades. Through the nose. This could result in bills of tens of thousands of pounds / dollars just to add a few users.

I suspect a lot of customers won’t bother and this will provide yet more acceleration in the number of enterprises abandoning Cisco for telephony and moving in the direction of Lync. After all, if Cisco are going to force you to do an upgrade you don’t want to do, wouldn’t you consider alternatives?

Cisco just don’t get it. They just don’t listen. They just don’t learn from their mistakes. The issues with licensing on their UC products are entirely of their own making, and as usual, it’s their customers and partners that bear the brunt of it. When the highlights of a new major release are a new licensing model you know that something has gone badly wrong somewhere down the line. Is it technically impossible for Cisco to come up with a licensing mechanism that is backwards compatible with older versions?

We fully understand why CUCM 8.6 licensing would be end of sale for new deployments. We totally get that, and we haven’t been deploying 8.6 for well over a year. But to end of sale older license versions just because you want to force your customers to upgrade their systems is commercial suicide.

Sadly, none of this is surprising. It’s happened before. We had a client with MeetingPlace Express 2.1 and they were totally happy with it. They wanted to add more licenses which would have cost about 2.5K USD. Cisco’s response “oh no, you can’t do that – those licenses are end of sale. You need to upgrade to full blown MeetingPlace”. The cost – over 30k USD. Customer deployed Lync conferencing instead. They’ve now removed CUCM.

It’s licenses we’re talking about here. Nothing physical. No hardware. It’s just having the ability to generate a license key for an older version of software. Why do they feel the urge to end of sale them? Of course, they make significant amounts of money forcing customers to upgrade.

To repeat. Cisco just don’t get it. They just don’t listen. They just don’t learn from their mistakes.

Barry Hesk

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