Cisco Systems crowns Chuck Robbins as next CEO

Robbins is currently Cisco's SVP of worldwide field operations. He is slated to take the helm as CEO on July 26.

Cisco CEO John Chambers

Long time Cisco CEO John Chambers announced he would step down as leader of the networking giant this July.

Chuck Robbins, Cisco's SVP of worldwide field operations, will take the helm effective July 26.

Chambers, who held the CEO title for the last 20 years, will assume the role of executive chairman when once the transition is complete, focusing on Cisco's role in country digitization.

Robbins joined Cisco in 1997. In his most recent role, he led the company's global sales and partner team, which Cisco said drives $47 billion in business for the company.

Robbins was also a sponsor of Cisco's Sourcefire and Meraki acquisitions.

In a statement, Chambers praised Robbins' fluency with Cisco and his ability to lead the company through its next chapter.

"Chuck knows every Cisco segment, technology area, and geography, and will move the company forward with the speed required to capitalize on the opportunities in front of us," Chambers said. "He is a champion of the Cisco culture and has an incredible ability to inspire, energize, and connect with employees, partners, customers and global leaders."

The search for Chambers' replacement reportedly took 16 months, with the CEO succession process beginning in January, 2014.

In a blog post, board members Roderick McGeary and Francine Katsoudas said Robbins "has the full confidence and trust of the Cisco Board" as the company moves forward.

BMO analyst Tim Long said the Chambers move was expected, but the timing "caught us somewhat off-guard." Long added that Robbins is a good pick due to his strong sales background and that the employee base will be supportive since he's an insider. However, some management changes wouldn't be a surprise.

Wells Fargo analyst Jess Lubert said:

We believe Mr. Robbins has the necessary sales and technology experience to successfully assume the CEO position, where he should be able to leverage Cisco's deep executive leadership and engineering expertise. Perhaps more importantly, we believe this transition is likely happening at a time of strength for Cisco. Our recent industry checks have been positive.