Undoubtedly, we are all excited and optimistic to usher in the new year with a focus on health and prosperity. Many of us are hopeful that the pace of digital disruption forced upon us in 2021 will bear fruits blossoming into new revenue streams throughout the year and beyond.  

Cisco is working with our partners globally to take stock and review how market trends map to customer needs and solutions. We realize that this is an ongoing process though doing this sooner rather than later will determine the winners in the race to provide digital transformation services and solutions to customers who are struggling to keep up with the pace of change while keeping costs in check following one of the most tumultuous years in history. 


Let’s touch on three key trends that are inevitably top of mind for all of our partners.  

First, is the trend towards SD-WAN away from the inflexible and therefore costly operations inherent in hardware centric networking. The industry wide decoupling of hardware and software in production is already well underway, however it’s important to note that SD-WAN market penetration is expected to increase from 30% today to 60% in 2024. Many, many customers have yet to make the leap towards this unavoidable trend. Cisco is thrilled about having the largest number of SD-WAN customers with more than 30,000, while the closest competitor has only 9,000. Our SD-WAN solutions were evaluated with strong recognition by Gartner, IDC and Dell ‘Oro. In 2019, we won the SD-WAN product of the year from CRN and in 2020 we were awarded the tech innovator award for Cisco SASE under networking SD-WAN from CRN.  

Second is the COVID accelerated trend towards all things multi-cloud including SaaS, IaaS and PaaS. In the first half of 2020, cloud infrastructure services grew 34% from 2019 (Synergy Research). As Applications, workloads, and services have become more distributed across the edge-cloud continuum, our customers need a SDWAN fabric that supports these more diverse and complex access requirements while being equally agile and automated. Cisco SD-WAN was designed to provide greater visibility, full stack edge security and automation from branch to cloud and co-locations. Cisco provides a cloud native way for customers to seamlessly onboard Cisco SD-WAN to AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Now because of our technology investments, our customers can migrate to the cloud faster, have consistent security and network policies whether workloads are in corporate data centers or in the cloud, and use one dashboard that sees IaaS the same as a corporate datacenter.  

Third, the need for network as a service combined with security as a service or better known as SASE has never been greater. Gartner’s recent report indicated that “By 2024, more than 60% of SD-WAN customers will have implemented a secure access service edge (SASE) architecture.” This opens the doors to new buying centers for partners, namely the SecOps teams, thereby improving the stickiness of the sale. Cisco helps simplify the transition to SASE by offering SD-WAN with security in the cloud and onprem. In addition, the solution is wrapped with licensing that includes security and SDWAN bundled together. We also know that most customers prefer to buy security and SDWAN from the same vendor. This improves partner profits since security should now be part of every SDWAN deal.   


While there are many partner specific solutions and tools to leverage, I would like to shine the spotlight on two that are new.  

First is our Cisco Ready for Partners modernization platform and the second is our SD-WAN Conversion tool. In June of 2020 the Global Partner Organization launched the Cisco Ready for Partners Modernize Intent Based Networking campaign. This campaign with accompanying wizard like UI has capabilities to address wireless, switching and now SD-WAN. Partner sellers are guided to promotions and messaging most likely to be consumed by specific customers. That data is used to build targeted campaigns based on a specific customer’s install base. The tool provides a framework to ensure sales teams are taking advantage of the same use cases, messaging, and promotions used by Cisco internal sellers. 

  • Cisco Ready for Partners is accessible here 
  • Partners can learn more here  

Second, we have made what was once only available to internal architects available to partners in order to simplify migration to the latest SD-WAN software and increase adoption. The SD-WAN Conversion Tool is a cloud-hosted webbased platform that allows its users to translate and convert Cisco IOS XE configuration to a compatible SD-WAN configuration that can be pushed as a device template for Cisco’s SD-WAN product. The UI provides users with a simplified, interactive wizard workflow to upload their IOS XE config, map it to the SD-WAN config, and then download the converted config or upload it directly to their desired vManage node as a device template.  Given that Cisco has the lion’s share of the traditional router market, this is a boon for our partner community to differentiate themselves and dramatically improve their delivery efficiency. As a result, this will improve their customer’s time to market. Availability is expected by end of January 2021. 


In October 2020 and with much fanfare, we announced the launch of the new Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms family. This is a wide scale refresh of SD-WAN routing with benefits that have been aggressively rolled in based on market demand keeping our customers, partners and Cisco ahead of the curve. These platforms deliver secure connectivity to hybrid and multicloud applications across cloud, data center and edge locations. Furthermore, the platforms are best in class for SDWAN, multi-layered security with SASE, edge computing and 5G-ready connectivity. The platforms are suitable for cloud, branch and head end with up to 4x better SD-WAN performance.  

The Catalyst 8000 family was given the “Catalyst” name because it is important that there is product, branding and messaging alignment across Access (LAN) and WAN. The benefit to customers is that Cisco offers consistency across the entire Intent Based Networking (IBN) portfolio as a set of products that unify their enterprise networks and provide software-defined capabilities via a common IOS-XE operating system.  

No other vendor can provide the multi-domain capabilities across wireless, switching and edge routing aligned with market leading SD-WAN software. The Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms family brings it all together and provides a multi-billion dollar opportunity for our partners as they work with customers to renew. 

On behalf of our Global Partner Organization, I want to thank our customers and our partners for their loyalty and trust. I also want to wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021as you review, retool and renew.  




Craig Ginsberg

SD-WAN Go To Market Lead

Global Partner Organization