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2021: Critical Market and Technology Shifts

Read our blog to learn about the key market and technology shifts that we've seen over the past year, along with new technology from Cisco.

2021: Critical Market and Technology Shifts

Author: Andrew Williams, Cisco Partner Specialist at CDW Canada

Earlier this year I attended Cisco Live, which is Cisco's annual partner conference that celebrates IT professionals and educates partners on the latest in emerging technologies and Cisco products and solutions. In this blog, I will outline some of the key market and technology shifts that were discussed at the conference and that we at CDW have seen over the past year, as well as some technology announcements and updates from Cisco.

There are a few critical market shifts that were discussed at the conference, which are:

  • Hybrid cloud is the new normal
  • Mobile-first is here and growing
  • Cloud is the preferred delivery model
  • The security and threat landscapes are changing

With these market shifts come new technologies as well, such as:

  • Mobility and 5G, which offer improved latency, reliability and bandwidth.
  • Containers and microservices, which provide an elastic scale for how applications are written and deployed.
  • Cloud everything, which is seen through organizations increasingly using a cloud-first approach to their operating model, application security, cloud native connectivity and full stack observability.
  • Software-defined, which improves programmability of the network infrastructure.
  • Mass scale infrastructure, which offers high bandwidth and low latency for 400G innovations.

In addition to the critical market and technology shifts above, Cisco also announced some new updates to their own products and solutions. My colleague Puneet Duggal touched upon some of these in his blog, however I will go into further detail on ThousandEyes, Duo Passwordless and Cisco Plus.


Cisco Catalyst 9300 and 9400 switches with a DNA Advantage or Premier licence now come bundled with ThousandEyes enabling visibility across any network segment.

With the rapid adoption of cloud for many organizations, sped up even more by COVID-19, there is a critical need for visibility. While traditional network management tools such as simple network management protocol (SNMP) and NetFlow provide good visibility into an organization's network and its outcome, they're imperceptive to those outside of their control. To gain visibility into all network paths with actionable insight into potential causes of underperformance and thus guarantee service delivery in a cloud connected world, a new network intelligence platform and approach is needed.

Cisco ThousandEyes provides just that with a 360-degree view into every network hop from the source to the destination. Through the deployment of smart agents across an organization and the cloud, Cisco ThousandEyes delivers:

  • Visibility across any network segment, from the campus to the cloud, helping to safeguard the availability of apps and services by aptly identifying performance changes and disruptions.
  • A swift diagnosis and resolution of problems, with access to intelligent data.
  • An understanding of how users are experiencing SaaS and other applications such as Microsoft 365, Salesforce and Cisco WebEx along with critical insight into page load waterfalls and metrics.

As of April 5th Cisco Catalyst 9300 and 9400 switches with a DNA Advantage or Premier subscription have a built-in agent allowing customers one ThousandEyes network or web test, running at a 5-minute interval, per DNA licence at no additional cost. New switches will come with the agent embedded, while existing switches will require an IOS update.

With the immense popularity of these switches, this an opportunity for CDW to help customers get started on their journey with ThousandEyes and gain deeper visibility into the network. As customers transition to the cloud, this will inevitably result in future growths to testing capacity increased with the purchase of additional ThousandEyes enterprise and cloud agents.

Duo Passwordless

For decades passwords have been the de facto standard for authentication, and for many years passwords have been burdensome to manage and costly, causing data breaches when too simple, user friction when too complex, and frustration for IT when they need to be reset.

With the rapid pace of digitization and the work from home culture, providing access to resources in the most secure and easiest way is at the forefront and passwords are the most vulnerable factor.

To solve for these challenges, Cisco Duo is launching a secure access service that will enable a fully passwordless future by enabling users to leverage biometrics such as fingerprint and facial recognition built into laptops and mobile devices, thus transforming authentication into who the user is rather than what they know (like a password).

Remarkably, this is infrastructure agnostic and uses the Web Authentication standard, enabling biometric data to be securely stored on and validated locally on the device. This new service is slated for public preview in summer 2021.

According to the Gartner Market Guide for User Authentication By 2022, 60% of large and global enterprises, and 90% of midsize enterprises (MSEs), will implement passwordless methods in more than 50% of use cases, which is an increase from fewer than 5% today.

With our strong Cisco and Duo partnership and our Master Security specialization, CDW possess the resources to get ahead of this wave and allow our customers to free IT resources that would otherwise be allocated to password related support and increase user productivity with a frictionless login experience.

Cisco Plus

Cisco is introducing its first network as a service offering, Cisco Plus. To survive and flourish businesses need to be resilient, adapting to the expected and unexpected. The network is fundamental to this and Cisco plus offers a choice on how technology is consumed, delivering best in class network, security, compute, storage and applications as needed.

Through this service, Cisco promises a simple to use unified architecture, AI-driven insights and automation, which drive performance and cost optimization with continuing evolution across all Cisco technologies to deliver more As A Service solutions.

Cisco Plus Hybrid Cloud is the first offer planned for mid-2021 and aims to include:

  • Bare metal compute
  • Hyperconverged with VDI
  • Hyperflex virtual server infrastructure
  • Hyperflex Edge
  • Data centre networking with Nexus 9000 and MDS switches

The second offer expected later this year will feature secure access services edge (SASE) with core components such as Umbrella, SD-WAN with vManage or Meraki, Duo Secure Access and ThousandEyes.

Cisco continues to operate with a partner-led motion and with an extensive hybrid cloud team CDW is well suited to partner with customers on this journey to network as a service. To learn more about our Cisco partnership and capabilities, visit