I've been trying to understand what is actually required in terms of licensing for a 'plain Layer 2 switch'. No special features, just access switching. A number of 9200's were added to the environment, and are currently in eval mode.

As far as I can tell, there exists Network Essentials, Network Advantage, and DNA licenses. With the move to smart licensing, I figure the switch would require at a minimum the Network Essentials license. The following blog post doesn't really clarify, it just states that a device will return to eval mode if it doesn't call home at the required interval: https://blogs.cisco.com/enterprise/cisco-smart-software-licensing

Can anyone confirm based on the output below if these will continue to run without issue? (Meaning both operationally and being within licensing agreements.)

#show license all
Smart Licensing Status

Smart Licensing is ENABLED

  Export-Controlled Functionality: Not Allowed

License Authorization:
  Status: EVAL MODE
  Evaluation Period Remaining: 46 days, 7 hours, 17 minutes, 24 seconds

License Usage

  Count: 4
  Version: 1.0
  Status: EVAL MODE
  Export status: NOT RESTRICTED

  Count: 4
  Version: 1.0
  Status: EVAL MODE
  Export status: NOT RESTRICTED

Reservation Info
License reservation: DISABLED
  • The 9K switches can have various lengths of licensing (3, 5, 7, 10 years). We have found some problems with the 9200 that seem to work well with the 9300, but for simply layer-2 switching, the 9200 should be fine.
    – Ron Maupin
    Aug 20, 2019 at 16:29
  • Just curious, what kind of problems?
    – boomi
    Aug 20, 2019 at 22:59
  • I'm not sure. It is a different group in our company that uses those. The group I am in uses the 9300s, and I heard snatches of conversations about needing to upgrade to different code versions (which requires a huge lab testing effort), but the same problems didn't exist on the 9300s that we are using. That group always tries the cheap way out, and it usually ends up costing them more in the long run.
    – Ron Maupin
    Aug 20, 2019 at 23:14
  • Ha, sounds about right!
    – boomi
    Aug 21, 2019 at 0:11

2 Answers 2


Can anyone confirm based on the output below if these will continue to run without issue?

First, check if the essential license is applied correctly with the following command show license right-to-use usage. Next, check whether the permanent license is output. If so, you can probably use it as L2 SW. Next is DNA. A minimum 3-year license is usually included, so make sure it is correct or your smart license home. In your evaluation state, you will see alerts from your smart account continuously when your license expires.

Everyone was confused about this smart license.
As with the Catalyst 2960x, purchase a DNA Essentials (3 years) + Network Essentials license(Perpetual).
3 years is the minimum and does not need to be renewed after 3 years.
The important thing is that the network license is Perpetual. Once purchased, you can use the device permanently without DNA Service.

Why are DNA licenses bundled?
Let's think of software as something that comes with a free service for 3 years.

What is the difference between Advantage and Essential?

Simply replace it.
IP base = Essential (L2)
IP service = Advantage (L3)
Must select Essential or advantage

  • It seems that 'right-to-use' is deprecated: "Right-to-Use licenses are deprecated from Cisco IOS XE Fuji 16.9.1." cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/switches/lan/catalyst9200/software/…
    – boomi
    Aug 20, 2019 at 16:01
  • I think that answers my question though -- the 'ip base' equivalent is listed with a 3 year time limit, but is actually perpetual. Thanks!
    – boomi
    Aug 20, 2019 at 16:02
  • Even with essentials license you can enable IP routing, but it's limited to 1000 routes and stub-only for EIGRP. Aug 21, 2019 at 15:05
  • I don't get the As with the Catalyst 2960x line. In any circumstance DNA is needed for first activation? Because there's a lot of places that NEVER buys SMARTnet. Jun 13, 2022 at 19:43

Little late now maybe, but you might want to see this doc. Makes it pretty clear. https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/products/collateral/switches/catalyst-9200-series-switches/nb-06-cat9200-swit-ser-cte-en.pdf I had the same questions when doing a new design for a customer. They too wanted to cheap out - 'not do DNA', no smartnet, etc. I had to tell them that SD-Access - the core of the design - will not work with anything below DNA Advantage (required for SGT, SXP, VN (VRFs), and VXLAN, among other requirements). Also be aware that certain switch models (fixed / 'L' models) only support 1 VRF (the default). You have to move up to the non-L models to get 4 VRFs, and ‘Advanced’ SKUs for 32 VRF support. It's pretty easy to hit the ceiling at 4 VRFs when you're doing identity-based networking/SD access (SDA).

<< Augment:(think ‘building/access control’, ‘guest’, ‘security systems (cameras/PSIM)’, and maybe ‘IoT/SCADA’, to name just a few. Even more likely with PCI-DSS, Trading, Electrical grid / Energy customers, etc. >>

<< Update: one correction - the ‘-L’ models will only support one VRF, the default. Non-L models support up to 4, and there are specific ‘Advanced’ SKUs that support 32. I’m still looking for that last PID list - I’ve edited above as well >>

  • That looks excellent, thanks for the tip!
    – boomi
    Mar 17, 2020 at 16:52

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