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History has shown that Cisco knows what it's doing, Chambers said, and it has emerged through previous executive and market transitions "dramatically stronger" than before.
"My job and the board's job is to make this relatively seamless," he said.
Chambers didn't commit to whether he thought Cisco's next leader would definitely come from inside the company but said the benefit of an internal promotion would be pretty clear.
"You need to understand that this a board of directors' decision on which I do have an influence," Chambers said. "All of us recognize that there are huge advantages having it come from internal. It is such a complex operation -- our complexity on our ASICs alone is very unique in the industry. Sixty percent of our engineering is in software."
Cisco will benefit both investors and its channel with a smooth transition, observers said.
"Cisco's set the standard in how it does acquisition, with the forethought, planning and respect they give those types of transitions," Long View's MacDonald said. "I think they've been a class act in that regard so it seems likely they'll continue to be the leader of that pack."
"We view the new appointments as a step in the right direction," wrote Raymond James & Associates analysts Brian Alexander and Simon Leopold in a note Friday. "We believe Cisco has management depth, and with planning, a transition can occur. We think a clear communicated plan could alleviate investment community's concerns over succession planning."
Whoever's next to lead Cisco will shepherd the company into an era of unprecedented change, with big data, mobility, data center convergence and social networking all such compelling trends, Chambers said.
Because so many of those transitions are network-enabled, he explained, Cisco has the opportunity to become not only the No. 1 communications company, but the No. 1 IT company and the "best business partner for our customers."
"All these new markets are network-centric," said Chambers. "The opportunities in front of us are the greatest they've ever been."