Partners Pumped About Cisco CEO Chambers' Throwdown On VMware, White Label Switches

Solution providers are hailing what they see as a new, take no prisoners attitude toward the competition displayed by Cisco CEO John Chambers Wednesday after the networking market leader posted robust second fiscal quarter results.

The usually soft-spoken Chambers, who cultivates the demeanor of a Southern gentleman, sounded more like a market brawler in a lively call with Wall Street analysts, boasting about having fun beating VMware and crushing white label switches such as those designed by Facebook. When one Wall Street analyst asked him why he was so upbeat, Chambers said he'd recently run four miles in his best time in over a year, and then lifted weights, noting that he's "full of energy" these days.

[Related: John Chambers: 10 Bold Proclamations On Cisco's Present And Future]

Solution providers say Chambers' trash talking has them more fired up than ever to take the high ground against Cisco competitors. They are hoping Chambers, who has led the company through multiple turbulent technology transitions in 20 years at the helm, does not retire for years to come.

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"I think it gives the wrong competitive message when Chambers is meek and quiet and talking about leaving," said one top solution provider executive, who did not want to be identified. "I like the, 'Let's knock some teeth in and make it happen" … So him coming out strong isn't a bad thing at all, I like to hear that. I can get on board with that.

There was a period of time where it seemed like "VMware was making the bold moves and Cisco was kind of sitting back and waiting," said the Cisco partner. "For far too long we've heard too much about VMware's NSX (virtualized network platform) and then ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) on the Cisco side is a little more vaporware or vision where as NSX is shipping and being installed and utilized now."

Although Cisco shares on Thursday were hot, jumping to a seven-year high, there was a period last year when partners weren't so confident in Cisco's future.

David Powell, vice president of managed and cloud services at TekLinks and a Cisco partner, said he was reinvigorated by Chambers' demeanor on the earnings call.

"If Chambers is willing to come out swinging, they certainly have the cash reserves to support whatever kind of initiatives he wants to do, then I like that," he said.

NEXT: Partners Want Chambers To Postpone Retirement

Chambers, who joined Cisco in 1991, has been the driving force behind Cisco's astronomical growth which has soared from $1.2 billion when he assumed the role of CEO in 1995, to $47 billion in fiscal year 2014.

"He's got time," said Gary Berzack, CTO and COO of eTribeca, a New York-based solution provider and Cisco partner. "He's got plenty of time, plenty of years and more than enough mileage."

Rumors of Chambers’ impending retirement have swirled since 2012 when he said that he planned to retire within two to four years.

Cisco Wednesday reported fiscal second quarter profit of $2.7 billion, or 53 cents per share, up 9 percent from last year's quarter. Revenue came in at $11.9 billion, up 7 percent year-over-year. Cisco's routing business revenue grew 2 percent, switching climbed 11 percent, UCS server business grew more than 40 percent year-over-year and Cisco's Meraki wireless business had a 100 percent year-over-year growth.

"The channel is very comfortable with the bets John's made and comfortable with his leadership," said Kent MacDonald, vice president of converged infrastructure and network services at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based solution provider and Cisco partner. "He listens to the market, he listens to his team and I think that combination time and time again has proven very strategic … I'm not sensing any angst in the market, in fact, John's steady hand has been very much appreciated."

Partners aren't sure how long Chambers will remain as CEO, but are confident in the executive team he's built around him who will eventually take over the reins.

"He's built a very strong team around him," said MacDonald. "If he decides to move on, I'm very comfortable that there's going to be a very consistent leadership team to take over should he decide to step ahead."