Cisco's CEO Chuck Robbins said he isn't worried by Ingram Micro's impending takeover, during an interview with CRN at the 2016 Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego.
US-headquartered Ingram Micro is one of Cisco's distributors and last month it was bought by Chinese conglomerate HNA for $6bn. But Robbins said he was not fazed by the move.
"Was I surprised by it?" he said. "I wasn't philosophically surprised but I didn't talk to them ahead of time. I spoke to Alain [Monié] immediately after the acquisition was made and currently based on what I know about it, it doesn't represent any concerns for us. Based on how he articulated the plan and why they made the acquisition, and the fact they plan on letting them operate as of now, we are very comfortable with it."
Ingram Micro is not the only channel leviathan to be snapped up in recent months, with Dell announcing a deal for EMC last year. When asked, Robbins said the imperative at the moment is to continue its relationships with Dell and EMC rather than treat them as a threat.
"We are having a lot of conversations with EMC and Dell," he said. "I think right now our bias is to partner with them. We have a little bit of overlap in certain areas. We have the VMware competition that we are very clear on. Dell has compute but in the core areas [where] we play, I don't think the UCS (unified computing system) and Dell's compute platforms are typically looked at in the same use cases."
A question that kept cropping up during the event was whether or not Cisco intends to continue its converged infrastructure VCE venture with VMware and EMC. This was particularly pertinent as Cisco announced its own hyper-converged offering during the event, in the shape of its HyperFlex Systems. But Robbins remained resolute that VCE will continue for the immediate future.
"When you look at EMC and VCE in the use blocks, we are still having tremendous success there," he said. "And as long as the customers see the value there, I think both companies believe we should continue to deliver that and continue to deliver that converged value. We are talking very regularly to Michael [Dell] and to Joe [Tucci], and our current discussions are how do we continue to think about partnering together?
"We will see what the future holds," he added cryptically.
A tough act to follow?
Robbins, who took over the position of CEO from John Chambers in July 2015, said during a press Q&A that he sees his tenure as a continuation of the strategy of his long-standing predecessor and he is looking to accelerate on what was already there.
And during Robbins' opening keynote, he urged his partners to move more quickly with Cisco as it evolves.
When asked by CRN if he was tempted to move Cisco into private hands to help with this speed of strategy, Robbins said he was happy to remain public.
"I think we can continue to meet the ongoing expectations of being a publicly traded company for sure," he said. "As well as make the transitions that deliver on the things that we need to deliver on. We have tremendous financial capability, we have multiple levers we can well pull when it comes to innovation and I am very comfortable with where we are."
Looking forward, Robbins said he wants to focus the channel strategy around delivering a "consistent" message to its partners.
"The consistency is so important because we are asking them [partners] to build their business around a lot of this technology," he said.
He said that central to the company's future will be bringing together all the different elements of Cisco's portfolio, which has extended from switching and routing to areas including security, IoT, software-defined networking and now hyper-converged infrastructure.
"There is a broader vision, where this comes together," he said. "And you get that connected car coming through the Jasper platform, into the service provider network, back to the enterprise where the application is developed on a container. It's all connected and in November that's going to be one of my priorities, to paint that holistic picture around how all this stuff fits together."
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