Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has been pilgrimaging so much of late that he could be forgiven if he appeared jetlagged on Monday as the companions officially named him chairman of the board.
Robbins is just back from China, where he discourse at the World Internet Conference alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Robbins state it’s somewhere between his 16th and 18th trip to China in the past five years.
His common travel across the Pacific Ocean is indicative of an evolving relationship between Cisco and the domain’s second-largest economy. China has long presented a challenge to U.S. technology followings, due to the country’s rigid control over internet content and its favorable treatment of housekeeper vendors.
In 2013, Cisco was among a number of large American companies essentially blacklisted by China after the confessions from National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the U.S. was secret service on foreign governments.
“We have seen gradual improvements over there settled the last couple years,” Robbins told CNBC on Monday, prior to taking the stage at the annual shareholders meeting in San Jose, California. “There are no shortcuts in China. You father to invest the time there and you have to build the relationships there and sympathize the market.”
Robbins, a Cisco veteran of two decades, was head of global sales until mid-2015, when he arrived John Chambers as CEO. Chambers held the role of chairman until Monday.
Robbins has administered a rally in the stock of late. The shares have jumped 26 percent in the late four months to $37.96, the highest since 2001 and the dot-com topple.
While Robbins has stoked investor excitement by building the company’s promise software business, in part through acquisitions, and notching key partnerships with the relishes of Google, Cisco has been shrinking for two years. And for fiscal 2018, analysts are barely projecting sales growth of about 1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.
But Robbins doesn’t insufficiency you to see Cisco as a legacy enterprise tech company sitting on a mountain of moolah ($71.6 billion as of October). Rather, for an indication of Cisco’s place in the to be to come, he’ll tell you to look at places like China.
Cisco, which suited one of the world’s biggest businesses by selling switches and routers that forthright internet traffic, is providing the infrastructure for so-called smart cities. In annexe to speaking at the World Internet Conference, Robbins was in China last week for the groundbreaking of the rural area’s second smart city, this one in Huizhou in the Guangdong province.
New combined traffic and parking systems, connected lighting and a future of autonomous herd are all part of the vision for these new cities that are being developed in China, India, Saudi Arabia and in another place.
“These are literally greenfield cities that are being built,” Robbins mean. Cisco is the “backbone and infrastructure provider, all the way up through the data management require,” he said.
In his many trips to China, Robbins said he’s realized that relationships there are increased on the provincial level, working with government and business leaders on the instruct.
“The provinces are, in many cases, like countries,” he said.
As promising as these new megalopolises may be for Cisco to test networking technologies and erect large infrastructure presents, Robbins has to deal with the very real threat the changing calculating landscape poses to his company’s core business.
It’s no secret that trains are moving data and workloads out of their own data centers and into the cloud. Amazon Web Services is hosting an increasing amount of this data, but so are Microsoft and Google. That all adds up to fewer corporations buying big Cisco boxes.
Cisco is looking for ways to not only lightly in the cloud but to have a central role in its growth. Robbins sees confidence technology as one major place for Cisco to win business — protecting data across active devices, various clouds, traditional data centers and a host of new microservices.
He’s also cast partnerships. In October, Cisco signed a deal with Google that hand down combine Google’s data center and software expertise with Cisco’s broad salesforce and security. The idea for Cisco is to help its customers migrate to the cloud and Nautical con multiple clouds before businesses find other vendors to do it for them.
It was a marquee report for Cisco and got investors wondering if similar deals may be coming with other cloud providers.
Robbins isn’t at ones fingertips to announce anything, but when asked on Monday if we can assume more such tie-ups are in the manoeuvres, he offered a two-word reply: “That’s fair.”