How IHG Streamlined the Management of their Cisco Meraki EA with Boundless Smart Track

Managing software licenses across large network infrastructures can be a challenging task, especially when dealing with Cisco Enterprise Agreements (EA) spanning multiple sites and organizations. Some of the most common challenges include the complexity of tracking the consumption of licenses for each individual location, allocating costs accurately for internal chargebacks, and getting clear visibility for budgeting and forecasting.

These obstacles often prevent companies from embracing Cisco EAs. Challenges like the ones above are exemplified by the case of IHG Hotels & Resorts, a global hospitality leader with a vast Cisco Meraki deployment spanning 80 organizations, 4,500 networks and over 340,000 devices. 

In this article we’ll look at how Boundless Smart Track addressed these issues head-on, eliminating the roadblocks and paving the way for seamless EA adoption, helping their Procurement team replace the manual work process and get clear visibility into their costs. Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

The Challenges Faced

Managing software licenses for an organization of IHG’s size presents a number of significant challenges. With licenses spread across various locations, they would have to regularly reconcile licensing costs with each cost center, leading to three major issues that could hinder the management of their Cisco EA.

Complex and Time-Consuming License Management

Imagine trying to manually keep track of the license consumption for 340,000 devices across 80 organizations. It’s like playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole — just when you think you’ve got everything sorted and the records updated, a new device shows up making those numbers obsolete!

This is a time-consuming and tedious process that typically entails having to shift through hundreds of spreadsheets to find the information needed, then spend hours trying to make sense of license consumption across locations.


Difficulty in Accurately Allocating Costs for Chargebacks

Not only is it tricky to figure out how many licenses each hotel, department, or cost center is using, but without accurate information, calculating charges for their EA usage can feel like guesswork. The lack of detailed consumption data for each single center might lead to overcharges, billing disputes, and a time-consuming internal chargeback process that would drain resources!

Lack of Visibility for Budgeting and Forecasting

One of the benefits of Cisco’s EA is their True Forward process, which lets customers add new licenses throughout the year without upfront costs. However, a downside is the lack of visibility over real-time consumption, which makes it challenging for cost centers to plan their budget ahead of time and forecast their license needs accurately.

Without visibility into their current consumption, Procurement teams could be surprised by unexpected usage spikes, forcing them to scramble and adjust budgets.

Struggling with a messy EA management wouldn’t  just be a frustrating and time-consuming task, but could also result in costly consequences.

The Solution: Boundless Smart Track

To support the management of the Cisco EA and address their license management troubles, Boundless collaborated closely with Insight, a Cisco partner, and Cisco to develop a tailored solution for IHG: Boundless Smart Track. This software consumption monitoring application was designed specifically for managing Cisco Meraki software licenses within Cisco Enterprise Agreement.

Smart Track helped IHG solve their core challenges in three key ways.

Smart Track Eliminated Manual License Tracking

With licenses spread out across over thousands of properties worldwide, attempting to maintain an accurate license consumption report would have been an exercise in futility. By the time the team would have compiled license data from one location, new devices had already come online elsewhere, instantly making that data outdated.

Smart Track solves this issue by providing a centralized system to view all of IHG’s Meraki licenses granularly for each of their locations, departments and cost centers. No hunting through disparate data sources required – Smart Track displays real-time license consumption figures all in one unified dashboard.

This level of visibility allows the Procurement team to effortlessly see which specific locations have provisioned new devices using licenses, which properties are nearing their limits, and which have room to expand. They finally have an accurate, easy to comprehend record of IHG’s global license deployment and consumption.

With automated real-time reporting powered by the Meraki API, explaining license chargebacks to hotels and budgeting for network investments becomes a simpler task based on indisputable data. Smart Track eliminates the wasteful guesswork and manual overhead that would have plagued license management for the Procurement team.


Smart Track Enabled Accurate Cost Allocation with Granular Reporting

Another major challenge is to periodically run the internal billing across the different hotels and departments based on their actual license usage. Without clear visibility into each location’s consumption, the Procurement team may have had to rely on rough estimates when doing chargebacks.

Smart Track solves this chargeback allocation problem by providing real-time and granular, property-level reporting on license consumption. The solution provides a clear overview over the exact number of licenses each location is actively using, and what is covered under their Enterprise Agreement.

With this detailed data, they can now accurately divide up EA costs based on the actual license consumption – not estimations.

Smart Track Addressed True Forward Concerns

Smart Track’s real-time centralized reporting provides the up-to-the-minute license consumption visibility they need to track license usage and avoid True Forward surprises. Easy-to-read dashboards display the current state of deployment across every single property and department, making it easy to keep the budget forecast up to date.

The Impact of Smart Track

The implementation of Smart Track had a significant, positive impact on the management of IHG’s Cisco Enterprise Agreement.

“Leveraging Boundless Digital and their custom Meraki EA dashboard we were able to quickly and painlessly untangle IHG’s 400,000 licenses and propose a massive Meraki licensing renewal via an Enterprise Agreement that provided custom visibility and reporting to Meraki, partner, and IHG,” says Steven Allspach, a Sr. Cloud Networking Specialist at Cisco Meraki. “None of this would have been possible without Boundless Digital.”

The successful implementation of Boundless Smart Track for IHG demonstrates the solution’s ability to streamline complex network management tasks and enable Cisco partners like Insight to deliver exceptional value to their customers.

Reduction in time spent on manual license tracking and management

Smart Track’s automated license management and tracking capabilities eliminate the need for manual data gathering and reconciliation across IHG’s 80+ Meraki organizations. The centralized dashboard provided real-time visibility into license consumption, enabling the Procurement team to quickly access and analyze data, saving countless hours of administrative work.

Improvement in cost allocation accuracy for internal chargebacks

Smart Track’s granular reporting features allowed the Procurement team to break down license consumption costs by property, department, or cost center, ensuring accurate and fair allocation of expenses.

More efficiency to support IHG’s plan of expansion

Through their Cisco EA, IHG could provision licenses for new locations as needed. Smart Track supported this by giving them real-time visibility into license usage and enabling accurate cost allocation for each new hotel. This streamlined the onboarding process, reduced the time spent on administrative tasks, and ensured that each new location was billed correctly. By simplifying these tasks, Smart Track helped IHG manage their Cisco EA and support their growth plans.

Smart Track benefits

Enhancing Cisco EA Management with Smart Track

Managing Cisco Enterprise Agreements for large, complex organizations could present challenges, such as manual license tracking, inaccurate cost allocation and limited usage data. This may create friction and obstacles to the signing of the EA… But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Boundless Smart Track is specifically designed to solve these problems for Meraki organizations. It simplifies license management and provides real-time and granular data on consumption across all your locations. This helps your team improve cost accuracy and unlock a more efficient approach to the management of the Cisco EA.

IHG Hotels & Resorts and Insight have already streamlined the management of their Cisco Meraki EA with Boundless Smart Track. They saved time, improved accuracy, and gained the agility to better support their growth.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to the frustration of manual processes and try a more efficient way to manage your Cisco EA, it’s time to explore Boundless Smart Track

Schedule a demo today.

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