ASA 8.3 was recently released. One welcome improvement was a new method of managing failover licenses. Previously, ASAs in a failover pair each needed to have a license for a feature. For example, let’s say that an ASA failover pair required a 100 session SSL license. In version 8.2 and earlier, each ASA would have to have a license purchased for it. With the new license method, one license would need to be purchased. This license will be shared between the two ASAs in failover mode.
The big question that arises is what to do with the existing licenses that exist on each ASA with 8.2 and earlier. As part of the upgrade, the licenses are combined. For example, say there are two ASAs, in a failover pair, running version 8.2. They each have an SSL license for 100 sessions. When the ASAs are upgraded to 8.3 there will now be one 200 session SSL license that will exist on the active ASA. This license will transfer to the standby ASA if it becomes the active ASA.
One big caveat to look out for is the DRAM memory requirement for version 8.3. The 5505, 5510, 5520, and 5540 models all require a DRAM memory upgrade to run 8.3. The 5550, 5580-20, and 5580-40 models do not require an upgrade.