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CEO Robbins puts multi-cloud at the heart of Cisco’s business

Placing the supplier at the heart of the enterprise transition to multi-cloud environments seems to be paying off for Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

Broad adoption of multi-cloud environments across the enterprise world is shaking up how IT infrastructures are built and secured, and Cisco has grand plans to be at the centre of this transition, says CEO Chuck Robbins.

Speaking on a conference call, transcribed by Seeking Alpha, that marked the networking supplier’s fourth-quarter and year-end results, Robbins said the recent acquisition of Duo Security – which brings new authentication capabilities to its cloud security portfolio – was an ideal example of how the supplier is extending its intent-based networking (IBN) portfolio for the multi-cloud world.

Robbins also reflected on the production launch of Cisco’s hybrid cloud solution with Google and the introduction of a multi-cloud solution with NetApp.

“As our customers move to a multi-cloud environment, we see tremendous opportunities to provide value to them by redesigning their IT architecture, delivering security, and building, orchestrating and managing applications,” said Robbins.

Cisco made fourth-quarter revenues of $12.8bn, up 6% year-on-year to a record high, and GAAP net income of $3.8bn, up 57% year-on-year, a figure that includes a benefit of close to $1bn related to new tax laws in the US enacted by the current administration.

Full-year revenues were up 3% on 2017 to $49.3bn, although GAAP net income was almost completely wiped out by charges arising from the US’s new tax legislation – on a non-GAAP basis, it rose by 5% to $12.7bn.

“Our record results demonstrate the strength of our business as well as the strategic focus and execution that we have delivered over the past 12 months,” said Robbins.

“We are looking forward to fiscal year 2019 with a clear focus on growth, execution and innovation. We see incredible opportunities across our business and believe we are uniquely positioned to deliver on our vision to be one of the most strategic partners to our customers as they go through their digital transformation.”

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Cisco is also starting to have more conversations with service provider customers – service provider being a segment of its business that returned to growth in Q4 – around the dawn of 5G mobile networks, which are set to be deployed in earnest in the next 18 months to two years.

Many of these discussions revolve around what network requirements will look like for the infrastructure to support 5G, on the assumption that operators will add a lot of high-speed connections at the edge that require high-performance networks with quality of service, slicing, and so on, said Robbins.

But he added that the uptick in service provider revenues was not likely to be a material result of any at-scale pre-5G deployments.

“We expect that is still a year out before many will start, and probably see it in earnest into 2020, to be fair, but we’re pleased with what our teams have done,” said Robbins.

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