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Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins On The Channel's Role In Navigating The Multi-Cloud World

In an interview with CRN after reporting record revenue for the fourth quarter, Robbins says the channel can play just as large a role in the transition to a new multi-cloud, software-focused business model as it has in Cisco's traditional business.

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Robbins On The Record

It's a multi-cloud world, and Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins is feeling good about the way he's positioned his company in it.

Cisco's transition to a business model that stresses recurring revenue and software subscriptions is beginning to bear fruit as partners balance the networking giant's core enterprise portfolio with next-generation Software-as-a-Service offerings and multi-cloud initiatives, Robbins told CRN in an interview.

The San Jose, Calif., company reported record revenue of $12.8 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter Wednesday, and Robbins said partners have played a significant role in positioning Cisco for success in a broad-based digital transformation taking hold among customers across the globe.

"We work so closely with our partners that they actually help us define the programs we need to actually make this work," Robbins said. "We don’t go off in rooms and come out and unveil something that hasn't been vetted pretty deeply with a strategic set of partners to make sure we get it right. We won't always get it right. When we don't, we fix it."

Robbins said Cisco, which only recently brought its public cloud relationship with Google into production, is likely to forge similar relationships with other public cloud power players, and he expects partners to find a wealth of opportunity in customers' drive to the multi-cloud and hybrid cloud world.

"As our customers broadly adopt this multi-cloud environment, they're rearchitecting how they build IT infrastructure," Robbins said. "That's a combination of automation, orchestration, SD-WAN, analytics, deep security, hybrid cloud enablement. The end state is very attractive. The road from where we are today to the end state is a tremendous opportunity for our partners."

What follows is an edited excerpt of Robbins conversation with CRN.

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