Back in 2010, transforming Cisco’s world-class product portfolio into one of the largest software companies in the world felt like a daunting mission. Historically, the company is touted as the top hardware provider, supplying the backbone of corporate and public networks everywhere. And while this remains true, 10 years later at our Investor Day in September 2021, Cisco forecasted that half of revenue will come from software and other recurring sales by 2025. That’s nearly $30 billion.

Transformation at that scale is not only challenging but usually avoided due to the lengthy commitment to a singular vision. It meant growing our technology portfolio, organically and inorganically, while radically transforming how customers experience Cisco. And so, quietly, behind the scenes, teams of people across every corporate function came together to build an engine that would sustain some of the largest software deals in Cisco’s history. Given our own evolution and the “learning opportunities” it provided, Cisco understands the level of agility and flexibility organizations need to power their own cloud-first digital transformations. That’s why we’re reimagining our software platforms and buying experiences.

Today, we crest the summit of a critical milestone years in the making as we announce Cisco’s new Enterprise Agreement.

Cisco’s software journey

Since everyone loves a good transformation story, let me open the book on a little Cisco software history. Beginning with Webex in 2007, Cisco made a series of strategic acquisitions to build and grow our software portfolio including a host of security SaaS companies like ScanSafe, Inc., Sourcefire, OpenDNS, and Lancope, Inc. All came with their own software operations along with renewal, customer success, and adoption practices. Many were best-in-class, but each were operating on different systems, databases, and teams.

Turn the page a few years and in 2013, Cisco asked me to build and lead a software operations team that would redefine what software meant to this big enterprise with a rich history in hardware. We started out with only 14 team members and eventually grew into a 600-employee global operation charged with supporting our customers, partners, sellers, and Cisco employees at every step of their software lifecycle journey. At the time, “customer success” and “renewals” didn’t exist at scale – so we built it.

Our ambitions were bold to be sure. In addition to creating shared frameworks and practices to weave our newly acquired companies into the fabric of Cisco, we also grew our Software Support Services offering by double-digits, amounting to a billion-dollar business.

But none of this was easy. In the case of our Software Support Service, delivering on our commitment to customer success meant managing over 300,000 services SKUs and their associated renewals. Delivering on a software-led experience meant coordination across the entire company, including our engineering, sales force, finance and operations teams in a whole new way. We knew we needed to simplify how we sold, transacted, and delivered our software to customers, including incubating our first Enterprise Agreement offering in 2012.

Cisco’s new Enterprise Agreement

Fast forward a few chapters to roughly ten years, and we’re now introducing the third generation of Cisco’s flagship buying program, the Enterprise Agreement. The new Cisco Enterprise Agreement radically simplifies how our customers and partners experience Cisco software. We’ve consolidated our program from seven contracts to one common agreement inclusive of our entire enterprise software portfolio. This gives customers the breadth of Cisco’s technology under one co-termed agreement and unified management experience, allowing them to fully realize the benefit of their relationship and investments with Cisco.

In addition to many new features, like the ability to shift financial commitment across products and to add new products without enterprise-wide commitment, the new Cisco Enterprise Agreement streamlines how customers manage their software licenses. All of which enables our customers’ cloud-first transformation by providing them more investment flexibility and financial predictability.

It’s worth noting that success is delivery across all aspects of the customer experience. This includes equipping our partners with the tools and training to price, quote, and sell EAs. It also means investing heavily into our Cisco.com experiences, making it easier for customers and partners to find the information they need, when they need it. For Cisco, that meant rationalizing over 1,000+ pieces of outdated web content and creating new, consolidated watering holes with easily understood and accessible information. This vigilance around a simplified user experience has resulted in engagement growth of 273%.

Glitz and Glam

It isn’t often that operational excellence gets the “glitz and glam” of a transformation story. When we think of “transformation,” we usually jump to the latest technology innovations. But the truth is, transformation is happening all around you, and it takes the dedication and coordination of an entire company.



Denise Lee

Vice President

Engineering Sustainability Office