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Cisco Meraki Documentation

The Science behind Per-Device Licensing

Per-Device Licensing Summary

Conversions to PDL will no longer be accepted. Customers should reach out to their Meraki Sales Representative to explore alternative options such as co-term or subscription licensing.

Cisco Meraki's per-device licensing model allows customers to assign a license directly to a specific device or a network. This allows IT teams to maintain a single shared expiration date or various expiration dates across devices, networks, or organizations - whatever makes sense for your business however you see fit. 

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Per-device licensing offers a variety of features and ultimate flexibility for customers of all sizes.




For Meraki hardware devices, a license needs to be applied to that device for the Meraki hardware to operate. For products like Systems Manager, the Meraki license is applied to the individual Network rather than to a specific device. 


Meraki’s per-device licensing model creates a way to map a single license to a Meraki Device or a Meraki Network. The enables the ultimate flexibility when managing licenses while maintaining the Meraki simplicity. 


If an organization manages finances and accounting separate per location, per-device license provides them a great way to purchase, assign and track license expiration dates across those locations. 

Per-Device Licensing Examples

Per-Device Licensing Example 1 

Suppose an organization had 2 separate Enterprise AP licenses, one license for 1-year (365 days) and another for 5 years (1825 days). If the devices and licenses were claimed on the same day, one of the wireless APs would have an expiration date of 1 year from the date claimed/assigned and the other wireless AP would have an expiration date 5 years from the date it was claimed/assigned.


Per-Device Licensing Example 2

Suppose a customer was on the co-term model and opted into per-device licensing. They’re co-termination date was January 1, 2021 in co-term for 100 APs. Their expiration date for those 100 APs is still January 1, 2021 when they opt-into per-device licensing. On January 1, 2020, they add 50 more APs with 3-year licenses. They will have two expiration dates. The original 100 APs will still expire January 1, 2021 and new 50 APs will expire January 1, 2023.


Per-Device Licensing Example 3

If an organization had 2 separate licenses, both for 1-year (365 days). If one device and license was claimed 7 days after the first, both devices would be licensed for 1-year, but one license/device would expire 7 days after the other.

30 Day Grace Periods 

There will be a 30 day grace period from the time that the license expires and the device or software product shuts down. 


If the customer keeps the expired device in the network, when they apply a new license, they will 'lose' the time from the newly applied license from how long they were in the grace period. 


For example, if a customer is 10 days into their grace period on a device and they apply a 1 year (365 day) license, the expiration date will be 355 days from when the user applied the license. If the customer used the entire 30 day grace period and waited 3 months to apply a new license, they will lose 30 days from the new license. In this example, the device has been inactive for 2 months due to an expired grace period. If a device is not licensed prior to the end of the 30 -day grace period, the device will cease to operate until the licensing issue has been resolved.




NOTE: Grace periods do not exist for 1-day licenses. If a customer applies (1) 1-day or (60) 1-day licenses to a device, the device will deactivate when the licenses expire. 30 day grace periods only apply to devices that had 1 year or greater license assigned. 


For example, if a customer applies a 1-year license and (30) 1-day licenses to a device, the device will have a 30-day grace period after the license expires. If the customer only applies (30) 1-day licenses, the device will deactive after the 30th day. There will be no grace period. 

License States 

A license is considered associated when it has been assigned to a specific device. If the license has not been assigned (automatically or manually) to a device, then it is considered unassociated.  


When a license is burning (active), that means the time remaining on the device has started to depreciate. Meraki licensing deprecates on a daily basis.


Burn/Active: The license has started to tick and time remaining starts to decrement.


  • Inactive & Unassociated - A license is not associated to a device and has not started to burn. The license is within the defined pre-activation period.
  • Active & Unassociated - A license has not been associated to a device, but has started to burn. This typically happens when the pre-activation period is over, but the license has yet to be associated to a device. In this state, the license can only be applied to a device that does not have an active license (e.g. a new device).
  • Inactive & Associated - A license is assigned to a device, but it has not started to burn. This typically happens in the case where a customer adds an additional license to a device that already has an active license (renewal). This license will become active when the first device’s time expires.

NOTE: This state can only happen with a license that has not already been active (started to burn).

  • Active & Associated - A license has been associated to a device and is burning. A license in this state can only be reassigned to a device that is either unlicensed or a device that has an expired license. An active & associated device cannot be used to extend time on a device with an active license. 

NOTE: Once a license is active, it will continue to burn even if it is unassociated with a device.

License True-Ups (Shared Expiration Date) 

 For customers who have multiple expiration dates across devices and want to have a shared expiration date, they can purchase 1-day license SKUs for their products. If there are two different expiration dates, the license expiration date can only be ‘trued-up’ to equal to or later than the further expiration date.


For example, if a customer has two devices one with an expiration date of January 1, 2020 and another device with an expiration date of January 31, 2020, the customer can purchase (30) 1-day SKUs and apply it to the first device.


Customers cannot split license time and apply it across multiple devices. For example, if a customer has an additional 1yr license and 12 devices, they can only apply it to a single device. They cannot break it apart and apply 1 month across 12 devices.


A single organization can only have 50K 1-day licenses. 

License Types

Ordering Meraki licenses does not differ between the co-termination and per-device licensing model. The following section is designed to give more insight into how the licenses are assign and behave within a Meraki organization. Customers do not need to ask for a ‘Device license’, rather they just purchase the product and assign it accordingly. 

Device Licenses 

A device license is considered a license that enables full functionality on a Meraki hardware device. These licenses are designed for Meraki MX, MR, MS, and MV devices. These are the same licenses in the Meraki co-termination model. 

Device Add-On (Feature) Licenses 

With per-device licensing, there are additional licenses that can enable additional functionality on Meraki hardware devices. Examples are Meraki Insight,  Meraki MV Cloud Archive, Meraki MV Sense, and Meraki MR Advanced Upgrade, 


These licenses can only be assigned to Meraki devices with an active device license. If the device license expires before the add-on license does, the add-on functionality will not work. 


If purchases and assigned together, device add-on and device licenses will share an expiration date. If purchased and assigned separately, they can have different expiration dates.


Device add-on licenses inherit the same properties of all other licenses. For example, they have a 30 day grace period and 90 day license activation window. 

Network Licenses

With per-device licensing Meraki offers products that are assigned on a per-network basis. Examples are Meraki Systems Manager and Meraki Virtual MX products. 


These devices are claimed and assigned to specific networks within a Meraki organization rather than a device within the organization. 


Network licenses inherit the same properties of all other licenses. For example, they have a 30 day grace period and 90 day license activation window. 

License Ids

Meraki customers receive a single license key when they place an order. When they claim a license key in a Meraki organization using per-device licensing, individual license ids are then generated and displayed in the Meraki dashboard. These individual ids are then assigned to devices or networks. All license ids will have a principal license key (the one received when placing the order) for tracking purposes. 




90 Day License Activation Window 

Customers using per-device licensing have up to 90 days to claim and assign licenses before the license time starts to decrement. 


A license will start to burn in one of two cases: 

1. The license is assigned to a device or 

2. It has been 90 days since the license was purchased. 


So, if a customer buys a license and applies it to a new device on day 45, the license will start burning on day 45. If they apply it on day 100 to the new device, the license will have already been burning for 10 days.

Calculating Expiration Dates

With per-device licensing, calculating the expiration date of a license/device when applying a new license is straight forward. 


For a new device (or a device that doesn’t have a license), the expiration date is today’s date plus the time remaining on the license being applied. For example, if today is January 10, 2022 and you apply a 3-year license that still has 3 years remaining (e.g. a new license), the expiration date would be January 9, 2025.


For a device that has a license with time remaining, the new expiration date is the license’s current expiration date plus the time remaining of the new license being applied. For example, if there are 6 months remaining on a license and a 3-year license is applied, the new expiration date is 3 years and  6 months from today’s date. If the license key has past the 90-day pre-activation period, it will be considered "active". For more detail, please refer to the 90-day license activation section.




1-Day Licenses 

In per-device licensing, customers can purchase 1-day licenses to 'true-up' to a specific expiration date. For example, if a customer has two devices that expire 30 days apart, they can purchase (30) 1-day licenses and apply them to the device that expires 30 days prior. If a customer has a single device and is purchasing a new device, they can also purchase 1-day licenses to keep the same expiration date of the existing device. 

1-Day licenses can only be claimed into a Meraki organization using the per-device licensing model.

A single organization can only have 50K 1-day licenses. 

A customer must apply a 1+ year license to a device in order for the device to qualify for a 30 day grace period. If the customer only applies 1-day licenses, regardless of how many, they will not receive a 30-day grace period after the 1-day licenses expire.

Converting from Co-Term to Per-Device Licensing 

When a customer is converted to the new licensing model, Meraki will take their current organization expiration date and apply it across all the devices within the organization. If there are extra licenses, an additional license will be generated with the same expiration date.


Example: If the customer’s co-term date for the org is 1/1/2025 and the customer has 1,000 APs (Device count) and 1,100 licenses (License count)... when Meraki performs the conversion, the 1,000 APs will have individual licenses with an expiration date of 1/1/2025 and there will be 100 AP licenses in their license inventory with an expiration date of 1/1/2025 that can be used to apply to devices without licenses (e.g a new device).


When customers convert, nothing changes with their expiration date. Their date will remain the same until a new order/license is added or the customer renews their devices. 



For Systems Manager, licenses will be generated for the correct number of Systems Manager license (license count). Meraki will assign the correct number of licenses based on the number of enrolled devices in each network and put the remainder in the license inventory. These extra licenses can be assigned to networks in your organization.


Example: If the customer has 1,000 Systems Manager licenses and 250 devices enrolled in 2 networks (500 total). Meraki will generate 1,000 Systems Manager licenses, assign 250 each network and the remaining in their license inventory. These additional licenses can be assigned to the same networks (add more seats) or different networks. 


Current customers will not see a change in their expiration date when they convert to per-device licensing. When they purchase a new license/device and claim it into their organization, is when they will see a different expiration date. For example, if the customer's co-termination date is 1/1/2025 and they convert, their expiration date in per-device will be 1/1/2025 for all their devices/products. If they purchase 1 new AP with a 7-year license on 1/1/2020, the expiration date of that device will be 1/1/2027. The other devices will maintain the 1/1/2025 expiration date. 


For more information and instructions on converting your current co-term license organization to the per-device model, refer to the How to convert an org from Co-term to PDL documentation.


NOTE: Once a customer converts to per-device licensing, they cannot convert back to co-terimation licensing model.


If an organization has an active Free Trial, it will lose the Free Trial when converting to per-device licensing.


Organizations that have SM Free or SM Legacy will not be able to use per-device licensing.

If the organization being converted does not have licenses or is in the Grace Period and they convert, there will be no licenses available in the organization and the devices will still be in the grace period. Licenses must be applied to the devices.

After conversion, the licenses in the organization will not be tied to a specific license key or order number. Licenses claimed into the organization after conversion will display the related license key and order number.   

If devices are in inventory (not assigned to a network), they will remain in inventory and no licenses will be assigned when converted.

How to Move From Per-Device Licensing to Co-Term

Customers are unable to move from the Per-Device licensing model to the co-term model. 


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