2021: The Year of the Backlog Opens Doors to Cloud and As-A-Service Offerings in the Cisco Channel


After the year that everyone had in 2020, no one could have predicted what would happen in 2021. That didn’t stop us from asking. Many had high hopes of applying the lessons learned during a global pandemic to change the way we work and conduct business. Now that the year is closing, we are taking the time to reflect on 2021 in the Cisco channel to see how business has evolved.

The EDGE360 editors recently sat down with Dan Forbes, Vice President, Sales at TD SYNNEX, to get his thoughts on how the IT channel, including distribution and Cisco partners, were impacted during the year. Forbes noted that after 2020, workplaces transitioned significantly to a remote or hybrid work environment, in which Cisco and its channel partners maintained pretty health businesses. “But suddenly, we all felt the effects of that pandemic in 2021,” he reflected. “For me, 2021 became the year of the backlog, both personally and professionally.”

The backlog that Forbes referenced was experienced by anyone and everyone that put in an order – either for personal use or a purchase for the business. It all came down to supply chain delays. “It seems like anything that I needed for my life was delayed, especially if it was a big purchase like a car or appliances,” he continued. “But then in our work lives, those same supply chain issues become even more apparent a few months into 2021. And that backlog played a significant role in the success we’ve seen during the year.”

For the Cisco channel, 2021 business remained robust, Forbes explained. The demand has been there for the technology, and partners continued to see a high interest in areas related to hybrid work, including collaboration, security, and networking. “Yet, closing shipments and getting the technology into the hands of the purchaser didn’t happen. But orders continued to get booked.”

This inability to get technology hardware into the hands of the customers has opened the door to the rise in interest for cloud solutions. “The promise of the cloud is here and has been quickly realized because it doesn’t require shipment,” Forbes said. “The cloud environment has really found its niche in this current world. Anything that doesn’t require hardware is a clear opportunity for partners.”

The other opportunity that Forbes saw throughout the Cisco channel was the need for collaboration and security tools. “Even personally, we’ve leveraged more video calls to connect with people virtually. We have so many tools at our disposal.” Yet, now that businesses of all sizes are looking to continue operations in a remote or hybrid environment for the long term, security has become a focal point. “We’ve seen the growing need for secure networks and secure end points as hybrid environments continue to grow and expand.”  

Now, more than ever, it is critical for the Cisco channel to work together to achieve success. Forbes highlighted the SYNNEX Comstor EDGE programs as just one of the ways that distributors help partners simplify their journey while building their Cisco portfolio. “Helping partners expand their business into new areas has really been the cornerstone of everything that we do with our partner community,” Forbes told us. “Take collaboration, for example. If a partner is heavily invested in a certain area, we help them divest into other areas like customer experience to ensure that the end user is getting the most out of the solution they have purchased and that they understand all the features and benefits of the tools. It makes the partner have more value with the end user.”

It’s difficult to reflect on 2021 and not mention the merger between Tech Data and SYNNEX, which was completed in September. Forbes noted that bringing these two companies together will only provide more flexibility and advantages to the Cisco community as partners will have access to more financial models, new capabilities, and expertise. “We are really building the next generation of distribution here in the U.S. and around the world,” Forbes explained. “And that is exciting for us and for our partners.”


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