Cisco vs HP Conspiracy Theory: Timing Is Everything

In the IT infrastructure war between Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard Co., timing apparently is everything. And competitive timing could explain why Cisco is changing CEOs just ahead of HP's planned company breakup.

The conspiracy theory goes something like this: Hewlett-Packard Co. has stabilized its business, but will face tall challenges as it prepares to break up into two companies by Nov. 1. Indeed, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will focus on corporate solutions, while HP Inc. offers printers and PCs to consumers. 

As the HP breakup nears, some key company executives are heading for the door -- including Executive VP Bill Veghte and Senior VP Art Gilliland. Oracle has also hired its share of HP executives in recent months -- including Dave Donatelli.

No doubt, rivals hope to capitalize on the HP breakup and executive changes.

Chuck Robbins 2.0

Enter Chuck Robbins, who succeeds John Chambers this month as Cisco Systems Inc.'s CEO.

Cisco's new CEO has a longstanding feud with HP

Cisco's new CEO has a longstanding feud with HP

When HP began to attack Cisco's core networking business around 2009, it was Robbins who rallied Cisco's sales ecosystem against HP.

Sure, John Chambers had been planning a CEO transition for several years. But a few pundits tell me that the plan accelerated as Cisco's performance improved in recent months -- and as HP's planned breakup spilled into the news. It became clear that now was an ideal time to act on the CEO shift. That's right: Chambers wanted Robbins in the driver's seat to potentially exploit HP's breakup. For Robbins, this is sort of like stepping into the batter's box for the first time when a rival pitcher is potentially distracted by off-field stress. 

Of course, the enterprise IT battlefront involves far more than the Cisco vs HP showdown. But this old story appears new again -- with HP claiming to challenge Cisco yet again on the networking front.

Surely, Robbins is getting ready to step up to the plate vs HP. Again.

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