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Cisco Pricing Options: Accurate Requirements Save Big Bucks

Since 2010, Cisco has offered two types of user licensing: Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing (CUWL) and Cisco User Connect Licensing (UCL). UCL began as primarily a mid-market offer, but is now available for all enterprises. The license types can be mixed and matched on a single system. This post is not a news release (the data have been available), but you can save money if you read it carefully and put some effort into defining your UC requirements.

To best understand the details, visit this Cisco web page. Here's the illustration from that page:

As shown, Cisco UCL (the four left columns) is an on-ramp for unified communications. All of the licenses include Cisco Jabber IM and Presence with voice communications on one device. The UCL Enhanced license adds video on one device (such as a Cisco phone with video camera) and the UCL Advanced license expands to two devices and includes the Jabber desktop (which is considered one device, by the way). Unified Messaging and Conferencing can be added to any UCL license on a per user basis. List prices for UCL range from $40 per user for Essential to $295 per user for Advanced.

So, if you need to bring a group of "Deskless" or "Desk-bound" workers onto your system with at least the basics of IM, presence and perhaps video or a UC client or even UM or conferencing, UCL may be the best option.

Another interesting feature is that UCL does not require Cisco Unified Communications Software Subscription (UCSS) as a prerequisite to the purchase, while the CUWL license does require that coverage. UCSS is a 3-year pre-paid license which allows upgrades to new software releases at no additional software licensing charge. Of course, Cisco puts new releases out much more frequently than most vendors, so perhaps pre-paying these costs makes sense, but if you don't want to add 50% or so to the initial price for UC functionality, you can postpone the upgrade costs for a future release cycle, or when you might choose to upgrade that user to a CUWL license.

CUWL is the top-end UC licensing, better aligned with Cisco’s vision of "collaboration." The CUWL Standard license is about the same as the UCL Advanced, with the exception of adding Unified Messaging plus the need to add UCSS. CUWL Premium adds Jabber Mobile, which is not available even as an upgrade on any of the UCL or CUWL Standard licenses.

CUWL Professional includes Conferencing, which translates primarily to a one-year prepaid users license for WebEx Meeting Center. Cisco WebEx Meeting Center is the central Cisco platform for collaboration, where Cisco is converging WebEx, Jabber, and Quad into a social networking for business environment with some content management capabilities. Use of the WebEx Meeting Center licenses after the first year requires a recurring monthly or annual charge, so you may want to analyze that cost on a multi-year basis in comparison to other collaboration and social business offers.

Cisco CUWL Premium and Professional list prices are $415 and $500, respectively, plus the UCSS requirement and possible future WebEx fees. This shows that the range of Cisco UC licensing options is very broad, with the high end being almost 20 times ($500 CUWL Professional plus UCSS plus additional WebEx subscription costs totaling nearly $800 per user) the entry price of $40 for UCL Essential. How would you get the best deal in this case?

The key is to know your requirements. For many years, UniComm Consulting has been writing on NoJitter and about the importance of mapping your UC requirements into specific use cases--i.e. groups of users who are engaged in similar business processes. For example, the physicians, nurses and ancillary care providers in a hospital comprise a very different use case grouping than the administrative staff which manages the hospital as a facility and a business. Therefore, the communication tools needed by each group are also very different.

By reviewing your enterprise's business processes and the people who work in those processes, you will find the patterns of communications in each of those process-based groups. You can then determine how UC (and Collaboration and Social) tools might improve or optimize communications in each group. Those specifications will provide the basis for picking exactly the communications tools needed in each case. Clearly, for Cisco customers and prospects, an effective mapping of requirements to licensing could save a bundle (no pun intended). Other vendors have similar options from which you can mix and match for the best results.

We've seen this work, and encourage you to develop your use cases as your guide to UC investment.