2. Cisco's Revival
In 2011, in the heat of Cisco's global restructuring, more than a few Cisco observers were calling for CEO John Chambers' ouster and wondering if the mighty networking king really, truly was in decline. But entering its 2013 fiscal year, which began on Aug. 1, Cisco looked pretty darn solid, especially compared to what rivals like HP, Juniper and Huawei have gone through this year.
Chambers (pictured) sees Cisco's 2012 position -- respectable earnings, monster data center growth and a renewed focus on core priorities instead of 30-50 "adjacencies" -- as validation. Now, as attention shifts more conspicuously than ever to Chambers' succession, Chambers is justified in telling partners that the bet they've made with his company is the right one, especially with other tier-one vendors like HP, Dell and Oracle posting year-over-year declines and muddling their channel strategies. "When you partner with Cisco, you partner with a company that doesn't lose," Chambers told CRN in an exclusive interview. "When we need to reinvent ourselves, we do."