Robbins to partners: Do you wanna go faster?

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

SAN DIEGO — He may not present at the same mile-a-minute pace as his predecessor, but Chuck Robbins used his first Partner Summit keynote as CEO to tell the company’s partners that he has a need for speed — and that they should too.

Robbins kicked off the company’s first of two 2016 Partner Summits here recapping his first seven-plus months at the helm of the networking giant, and previewing where the company is headed next.

The big accomplishment, to Robbins’ mind, is the creation of a company-wide framework that will sit on top of its architectural priorities and guide everywhere the company goes. And it will allow the company to go faster, he said. That’s his priority, but he said that he’s not the only one who’s demanding it.

“I’ve been in this business 29 years, and I’ve never seen anything move this fast,” Robbins said of current market conditions, including “geopolitical and macroeconomic shifts” as well as technology translations and changing customer expectations. “The world is moving at a pace we can’t even fathom.”

Continued innovation was a big theme of the presentation, including pledges that Cisco itself would innovate faster, and would be even more acquisitive of companies that play in areas that all under Robbins’ framework. Robbins detailed the 11 acquisitions the company has made since he took over, and said they “are focused on everything we’ve told you we’ll be focused on going forward,” specifically cloud, analytics, collaboration, and security.

On the subject of partnering, Robbins outlined big deals Cisco has inked with the likes of Apple, Ericsson, and Philips, and said the company will continue to build or buy in areas core to its framework, but will be more active in closely partnering with areas that are important, but not core, to the framework.

“There are things we believe we can build, there are some places we need to own, and there are some things where other companies have deep expertise in areas that aren’t in our core, and by both of us doing work together, we’ll be able to provide more value for you and for our customers,” Robbins said.

Robbins also previewed major announcements being made at Partner Summit, including the debut of the Cisco Mutli-Cloud Architecture, the heir apparent to its Intercloud strategy, and the introduction of Cisco Hyperflex, its first hyperconverged offering, built with software help from SpringPath.

And because it’s Cisco, there’s also an acquisition thrown into the mix, as the company announced on the eve of Partner Summit it would spend $260 million (U.S.) to buy CliQr, a purchase Robbins said will accelerate its ability to move workloads both around the data centre, between clouds, and into and out of various pieces of infrastructure, bringing some of the capabilities inherent in its Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology into workloads in public cloud, and in “non-ACI parts of the data centre” such as container-based and VM-based applications.

“Remember when we said we were going to facilitate the movement or workloads between clouds? CliQr takes that to the next level,” Robbins said. “It allows us to continue moving up the value stack int he data centre. And just like we saw with Meraki, and with Sourcefire, we believe that all of us together have to scale this up.”