Cisco Systems, Inc.
10-K on 09/09/2021   Download
SEC Document
SEC Filing
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UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549 
_____________________________________
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended July 31, 2021
or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from ____ to ____
Commission file number 001-39940 
_____________________________________
csco-20210731_g1.jpg
CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware77-0059951
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(IRS Employer
Identification No.)
170 West Tasman Drive95134-1706
San Jose, California
(Address of principal executive offices)(Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (408526-4000
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class:Trading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.001 per shareCSCOThe Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
_____________________________________ 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.      Yes     No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.      Yes      No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.      Yes    No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).      Yes     No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer   Accelerated filer 
Non-accelerated filer  Smaller reporting company 
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).     Yes     No
Aggregate market value of registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based upon the closing price of a share of the registrant’s common stock on January 22, 2021 as reported by the Nasdaq Global Select Market on that date: $189.0 billion
Number of shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding as of September 3, 2021: 4,217,735,917
____________________________________ 
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement relating to the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, to be held on December 13, 2021, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K where indicated.


Table of Contents
PART I
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
PART II
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
PART III
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
PART IV
Item 15.
Item 16.



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This Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” contains forward-looking statements regarding future events and our future results that are subject to the safe harbors created under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). All statements other than statements of historical facts are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts, and projections about the industries in which we operate and the beliefs and assumptions of our management. Words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “targets,” “goals,” “projects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” "momentum," “seeks,” “estimates,” “continues,” “endeavors,” “strives,” “may,” variations of such words, and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements that refer to projections of our future financial performance, our anticipated growth and trends in our businesses, future responses to and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and other characterizations of future events or circumstances are forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned that these forward-looking statements are only predictions and are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions that are difficult to predict, including those identified below, under “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” and elsewhere herein. Therefore, actual results may differ materially and adversely from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements for any reason.

PART I
Item 1.Business
General
Cisco designs and sells a broad range of technologies that power the Internet. We are integrating our platforms across networking, security, collaboration, applications and the cloud. These platforms are designed to help our customers manage more users, devices and things connecting to their networks. This will enable us to provide customers with a highly secure, intelligent platform for their digital business.
We conduct our business globally and manage our business by geography. Our business is organized into the following three geographic segments: Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); and Asia Pacific, Japan, and China (APJC).
Our products and technologies are grouped into the following categories: Infrastructure Platforms; Applications; Security and Other Products. In addition to our product offerings, we provide a broad range of service offerings, including technical support services and advanced services. Increasingly, we are delivering our technologies through software and services. Our customers include businesses of all sizes, public institutions, governments, and service providers, including large webscale providers. These customers often look to us as a strategic partner to help them use information technology (IT) to differentiate themselves and drive positive business outcomes.
At our annual meeting of shareholders held on December 10, 2020, shareholders voted to approve changing our state of incorporation from California to Delaware. The reincorporation became effective on January 25, 2021. Our headquarters are in San Jose, California. The mailing address of our headquarters is 170 West Tasman Drive, San Jose, California 95134-1706, and our telephone number at that location is (408) 526-4000. Our website is www.cisco.com. Through a link on the Investor Relations section of our website, we make available the following filings as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at sec.gov: our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports or other information filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. All such filings are available free of charge. The information published on our website, or any other website referenced herein, is not incorporated into this report.
Strategy and Priorities
As our customers add billions of new connections to their enterprises, and as more applications move to a multicloud environment, the network becomes even more critical. Our customers are navigating change at an unprecedented pace and our mission is to shape the future of the Internet by inspiring new possibilities for them by helping transform their infrastructure, expand applications and analytics, address their security needs, and empower their teams. We believe that our customers are looking for outcomes that are data-driven and provide meaningful business value through automation, security, and analytics across private, hybrid, and multicloud environments.
We are focusing on four customer priorities: Reimagine Applications, Power of Hybrid Work, Transforming Infrastructure and Secure the Enterprise.
Reimagine Applications
In our view, over the next several years, customers will be increasingly writing modern software applications that can run on any hybrid cloud, and will be adding billions of connections to their environments. Customers will need to be able to build
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applications quickly, deploy them nearly anywhere, monitor experiences, and act in real time.
We believe we are uniquely positioned to enable successful business outcomes for customers in hybrid and multicloud environments. In our view, networks are increasingly critical to business success and we believe our customers will benefit from the insights and intelligence that we are making accessible through our highly differentiated platforms.
We are continuing our commitment to deliver full stack observability from the application to the infrastructure to give our customers greater insights that enable faster, better decision making. We are doing this through adding key elements to our portfolio, such as: infrastructure optimization with Intersight, network monitoring with technology from our acquisition of ThousandEyes, application performance monitoring with AppDynamics, as well as our security innovations.
Power of Hybrid Work
Our customers’ communications continue to evolve as we move to a digital, cloud-based world. As our customers’ people are an important competitive advantage to them, their teams need effective and simple ways to work better together and to interact with their customers to build better relationships and increase collaboration. As an example, we believe our collaboration portfolio, which includes our subscription-based Webex conferencing platform, is at the center of our customers’ strategy for enabling their teams to be more productive and secure.
With the future of work being hybrid, we are focused on delivering highly secure collaboration experiences regardless of whether workers are physically at home or in the office. During fiscal 2021, we have added a significant number of new features, including digital signage, touchless calls, room capacity alerts, and environmental sensors to help enable a safer return to the office. We also extended our Webex suite of devices through our new desk camera and desk hub solutions.
Transforming Infrastructure
In an increasingly digital and connected world, our customers are looking to modernize and transform their infrastructure. Our strategy began with Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) technology, one of our leading enterprise architectures and continued with the launch of our Catalyst 9000 series of switches.
Since the initial launch, we have continued to transform our enterprise access portfolio by bringing together several technologies to form the only integrated architecture with built-in simplicity, automation and security at the foundation. This architecture is designed to enable our customers to securely connect their users and devices to applications and data over any network, to applications and data, no matter where they are.
We have introduced several innovations that extend our networking capabilities to wireless and enterprise routing products, including Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) and Internet of Things (IoT) edge platforms. Our SD-WAN solutions are designed to provide direct branch to cloud connectivity, enabling the workforce to access their software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and workloads in an optimized and highly secure manner. We have continued to expand our SD-WAN offering, through our Cloud OnRamp integrations with several webscale providers to deliver predictable and highly secure application experiences.
To further our innovation in this area, we are applying the latest technologies, such as machine learning and advanced analytics, to operate and enhance network capabilities. These network product offerings are designed to enable customers to detect cybersecurity threats, even in encrypted traffic. As such, we have created, in our view, the only network that is designed for security while maintaining privacy.
Our customers are operating in multicloud environments with private, public and hybrid clouds. For the data center, our strategy is to deliver multicloud architectures that bring policy and operational consistency, regardless of where applications or data reside, by extending our Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and our hyperconverged offerings.
In fiscal 2020, we announced details of our technology strategy for the Internet for the Future aimed at addressing the broad adoption of multicloud and application environments. We continue to make significant investments in the development of software, silicon and optics — which we believe are the building blocks for the Internet for the Future.
We introduced Cisco Silicon One, a single unified silicon architecture, as well as the Cisco 8000 carrier-class router family built on Cisco Silicon One and our operating system, Cisco IOS XR7. We have also expanded our Cisco Silicon One platform from a routing focused solution to one which addresses the webscale switching market. We also launched a new routed optical networking solution integrating our routers and pluggable optics from our recent acquisition of Acacia, which further helps to deliver cost savings to our customers.
Secure the Enterprise
With the rapid growth in modern applications, more distributed work environments, and increasing cyber-attacks, we believe every organization requires new or enhanced security architectures. Our security strategy is focused on delivering a simple and
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effective cyber-security architecture combining network, cloud and endpoint-based solutions that recognizes the critical importance of data privacy.
Our comprehensive security portfolio offers simplified protection for any workload on any cloud while minimizing the attack surface and automating security policies across an organization’s hybrid cloud footprint. This extends to our secure access service edge (SASE) framework and Zero Trust architecture, where we have developed a cloud-delivered stack across Umbrella, a secure Internet gateway, Meraki, SD-WAN, and Viptela. We are also delivering unified detection and response capabilities built on Cisco SecureX, our new cloud-native platform, which is a built-in platform that connects our Cisco Secure portfolio and our customers’ infrastructure.
Our strategy is to help our customers connect, secure, and automate in order to accelerate their digital agility in a cloud-first world. To execute on our strategy and address our customer priorities, we are focusing on the following six strategic pillars:
Secure, Agile Networks — Build networking solutions with built-in simplicity, security, agility and automation that can be consumed as-a-service.
Optimized Application Experiences — Enabling greater speed, agility and scale of cloud-native applications.
Hybrid Work — Deliver highly secure access, a safer workplace and collaboration experiences for the hybrid workforce.
Internet for the Future — Transform connectivity by efficiently meeting the ever-growing demand for low-latency and higher speeds.
End-to-End Security — Build simple, integrated, and high efficacy end-to-end security solutions, delivered on-premise or in the cloud.
Capabilities at the Edge — Develop new capabilities for a distributed world while enhancing the developer experience and extending enterprise and carrier networks.
We are also accelerating our efforts to enable the delivery of network functionality as a service as our customers increasingly want to consume our technologies in flexible ways. We have made the initial step with our new as-a-service portfolio, Cisco Plus, and our first offer, Cisco Plus hybrid cloud, which combines our data center compute, networking and storage portfolio. Cisco Plus includes our plans to deliver networking-as-a-service, which is designed to unify networking, security and observability across access, wide area network (WAN), and cloud domains.
Transforming our Business Model
We are transforming our offerings to meet the evolving needs of our customers. Historically, our various networking technology products have aligned with their respective product categories. However, increasingly our offerings are crossing multiple product categories. As our core networking offerings evolve, we expect we will add more common software features across our core networking platforms. We are increasing the amount of software offerings that we provide and the proportion of subscription software offerings. We have various software offerings that fall into the broad categories of subscription arrangements, including SaaS and term licenses, and perpetual licenses.
As part of the transformation of our business, we continued to make strides during fiscal 2021 to develop and sell more software and subscription-based offerings. We are also focused on the entire customer lifecycle to drive expansion and renewals. We will continue to invest in network-as-a-service offerings to provide our customers with flexibility in how they want to utilize our technologies.
For a discussion of the risks associated with our strategy, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” including the risk factor entitled “We depend upon the development of new products and services, and enhancements to existing products and services, and if we fail to predict and respond to emerging technological trends and customers’ changing needs, our operating results and market share may suffer.” For information regarding sales of our major products and services, see Note 19 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Products and Services
Our products and services are grouped into the following categories:
Infrastructure Platforms
Infrastructure Platforms consist of our core networking technologies of switching, routing, wireless, and data center products that are designed to work together to deliver networking capabilities and transport and/or store data. These technologies consist of both hardware and software offerings that help our customers build networks, automate, orchestrate, integrate, and digitize data. We believe it is critical for us to continue to deliver continuous value to our customers. We continued to make progress in shifting more of our business to software and subscriptions across our core networking portfolio, and in expanding our software
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offerings. Our objective is to continue moving to cloud-managed solutions across our enterprise networking portfolio. We started with our Nexus 9000 series of switches for the data center, which along with ACI, provide enhancements in security, programmability and performance while lowering operating costs. Our Cisco Catalyst 9000 series of switches were developed for security, mobility, IoT, and the cloud. These switches formed the foundation for our leading enterprise architectures, built on the principles of Cisco DNA. We continued to expand on this technology by extending SD-Access and Cisco DNA Center across our enterprise networking portfolio and by extending ACI to the public and private cloud. In addition, we now have a unified operating system and policy management platform for our enterprise networking portfolio to drive simplicity and consistency across our customers’ networks.
Our Switching portfolio encompasses campus switching as well as data center switching offerings. Our campus switching offerings provide the foundation for converged data, voice, video, and IoT services. These switches offer enhanced security and reliability and are designed to scale efficiently as our customers grow. Within campus switching are our Catalyst 9000 series of switches that include hardware with embedded software, along with a software subscription referred to as Cisco DNA. Cisco DNA provides automation, analytics and security features and can be centrally monitored, managed, and configured. With the expansion of WiFi-6, we have expanded our portfolio to include multigigabit technology in our switches in order to manage higher bandwidth and manage network speed. Our data center switching offerings provide the foundation for mission critical data centers with high availability, scalability, and security across traditional data centers and private and public cloud data centers. We continue to add deeper and broader visibility and analytics across our networks and applications, enabling us to deliver better experiences for our customers. We are also expanding our Nexus 9000 portfolio with 400G speed capability in order to support growing bandwidth demands for our customers.
Our Routing portfolio interconnects public and private wireline and mobile networks, delivering highly secure and reliable connectivity to campus, data center and branch networks. Our routing solutions are designed to meet the scale, reliability, and security needs of our customers. We introduced the principles of Cisco DNA into our routing portfolio by integrating SD-WAN into our offerings. We recently launched the Cisco 8000 portfolio, a family of high density, low power next generation routing platforms focused on our customers’ evolution to support 100G and 400G connectivity speeds.
Our Wireless portfolio provides indoor and outdoor wireless coverage designed for seamless roaming use of voice, video, and data applications. These products include wireless access points that are standalone, controller appliance-based, switch-converged, and Meraki cloud-managed offerings. Our Cisco DNA and Cisco DNA Spaces location-based services provide network assurance and automation for our customers’ wireless networks. Our Catalyst and Meraki WiFi-6 based access points are designed for high-density public or private environments to improve speed, performance, and capacity for wireless networking in both homes and enterprises.
Our Data Center portfolio incorporates various technologies and solutions including the Cisco Unified Computing System, HyperFlex, our hyperconverged offering, and software management capabilities, which combine computing, networking, and storage infrastructure management and virtualization to deliver agility, simplicity, and scale. These products are designed to extend the power and simplicity of unified computing for data-intensive workloads, applications at the edge of the network, and the next generation of distributed application architectures.
Applications
The Applications product category consists primarily of software-related offerings that utilize the core networking and data center platforms to provide their functions. Our Applications portfolio includes our collaboration products as well as our Applications Monitoring and IoT software offerings. Our offerings within the Applications portfolio are primarily delivered as software-as-a-service, but also includes perpetual software licenses as well as hardware offerings.
Our Collaboration strategy is to power hybrid work by reimagining employee and customer experiences to be more inclusive and engaging by providing technology that enables distributed teams to collaborate effortlessly. We offer end-to-end collaboration solutions that can be delivered from the cloud, on-premise or within hybrid cloud environments allowing customers to transition their collaboration solutions from on-premise to the cloud. These Webex solutions can be purchased on a stand-alone basis or as part of the Webex Suite that integrates voice, video, messaging, calling, polling, and event solutions enabled across a wide range of devices and endpoints such as mobile phones, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, video units, and collaboration appliances. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities are embedded across the Webex portfolio, providing collaboration experiences that integrate people insights, relationship and audio intelligence to help improve productivity.
Our Webex Cloud Contact Center solution, combined with the products from our recent IMImobile acquisition, creates a customer experience as-a-service offering (CXaaS), which leverages technology, including AI, experience management, collaboration tools, omnichannel capabilities, and programmability, for customization.
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Our Webex devices portfolio has also been expanded to include comprehensive remote work devices with purpose-built software that embeds AI to help provide smart hybrid workplace experiences, that are both touch free and personalized, assisting with safer returns to the office.
Our analytics solutions seek to help businesses deliver consistently high-quality digital experiences by connecting end-user experience and application performance to business outcomes. Our analytics applications monitor, correlate, analyze, and act on application performance and business performance data in real time. This automated, cross-stack intelligence helps to enable developers, IT operations, and business owners to make mission critical and strategic improvements.
We continue to invest in IoT as we expect the number of connected IoT devices to continue to grow. Our Cisco IoT Control Center helps to enable enterprises to automate the lifecycle of connected devices, including tools designed to automatically and remotely onboard, manage, and monetize their IoT devices.
Security
The Security product category primarily includes our network security, cloud and email security, identity and access management, advanced threat protection, and unified threat management products. Leveraging the built-in Cisco SecureX platform, we provide interoperability with customers’ security infrastructure, including third-party technologies. This results in unified visibility, automation and stronger defenses.
Security continues to be a leading priority for our customers, regardless of size or industry. At the core of our strategy is addressing their number one concern: the complexity of security. We have built SecureX into our Security products to help our customers connect our integrated security portfolio and existing security infrastructure to provide simplicity, visibility, and efficiency. We have also delivered Zero Trust for the workforce, workplace and workloads to help address the security challenges associated with the transition to cloud and remote work.
In fiscal 2021, we continued to invest and innovate in solutions that enable an increasingly hybrid workforce, support our customers’ transition to the cloud and help mitigate attackers’ evolving threats and methods. We enhanced our offerings in SASE by expanding our SASE architecture while simplifying the offering for customers, combining network and security functionality in a single, cloud-native service to help secure access wherever users and applications reside. We continued to enhance our comprehensive zero trust framework, introducing passwordless authentication by Duo Security.
Other Products
Our Other Products category primarily consists of our emerging technologies products.
Services
In addition to our product offerings, we provide a broad range of service and support options for our customers. Our overall service and support offerings are combined into one organization, Customer Experience, that is responsible for the end-to-end customer experience.
Our support and maintenance services help our customers ensure their products operate efficiently, remain available, and benefit from the most up-to-date system and application software. These services help customers protect their network investments, manage risk, and minimize downtime for systems running mission-critical applications. A key example is Cisco Smart Services, which leverages the intelligence from the installed base of our products and customer connections to protect and optimize network investments for our customers and partners. We have expanded these offerings from traditional hardware support to include software, solutions, and premium support.
We also provide comprehensive advisory services that are focused on responsive, preventive, and consultative support of our technologies for specific networking needs. We are investing in and expanding advisory services in the areas of software, cloud, security, and analytics, which reflects our strategy of selling customer outcomes. We are focused on three priorities: utilizing technology advisory services to drive higher product and services; assessment and migration services providing the tools, expertise and methodologies to enable our customers to migrate to new technology platforms; and providing optimization services aligned with customers’ business expectations.
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Customers and Markets
Many factors influence the IT, collaboration, and networking requirements of our customers. These include the size of the organization, number and types of technology systems, geographic location, and business applications deployed throughout the customer’s network. Our customer base is not limited to any specific industry, geography, or market segment. In each of the past three fiscal years, no single customer accounted for 10% or more of revenue. Our customers primarily operate in the following markets: enterprise, commercial, service provider, and public sector.
Enterprise
Enterprise businesses are large regional, national, or global organizations with multiple locations or branch offices and typically employ 1,000 or more employees. Many enterprise businesses have unique IT, collaboration, and networking needs within a multivendor environment. We offer service and support packages, financing, and managed network services, primarily through our service provider partners. We sell these products through a network of third-party application and technology vendors and channel partners, as well as selling directly to these customers.
Commercial
Within the commercial market, we define large businesses as organizations which typically have fewer than 1,000 employees. We sell to the larger, or midmarket, customers within the commercial market through a combination of our direct sales force and channel partners. These customers typically require the latest advanced technologies that our enterprise customers demand, but with less complexity. Small businesses, or organizations with fewer than 100 employees, require information technologies and communications products that are easy to configure, install, and maintain. We sell to these smaller organizations within the commercial market primarily through channel partners.
Service Providers
Service providers offer data, voice, video, and mobile/wireless services to businesses, governments, utilities, and consumers worldwide. The service provider market includes regional, national, and international wireline carriers, webscale operators as well as Internet, cable, and wireless providers. We also include media, broadcast, and content providers within our service provider market, as the lines in the telecommunications industry continue to blur between traditional network-based, content-based and application-based services. Service providers use a variety of our products and services for their own networks. In addition, many service providers use Cisco data center, virtualization, and collaboration technologies to offer managed or Internet-based services to their business customers. Compared with other customers, service providers are more likely to require network design, deployment, and support services because of the greater scale and higher complexity of their networks, whose requirements are addressed, we believe, by our architectural approach.
Public Sector
The public sector market includes federal, state and local governments, as well as educational institution customers. Many public sector customers have unique IT, collaboration, and networking needs within a multi-vendor environment. We sell to public sector customers through a network of third-party application and technology vendors, channel partners, as well as through direct sales.
Sales Overview
As of the end of fiscal 2021, our worldwide sales and marketing functions consisted of approximately 25,000 employees, including managers, sales representatives, and technical support personnel. We have field sales offices in approximately 90 countries, and we sell our products and services both directly and through a variety of channels with support from our salesforce. A substantial portion of our products and services is sold through channel partners, and the remainder is sold through direct sales. Channel partners include systems integrators, service providers, other resellers, and distributors.
Systems integrators and service providers typically sell directly to end users and often provide system installation, technical support, professional services, and other support services in addition to network equipment sales. Systems integrators also typically integrate our products into an overall solution. Some service providers are also systems integrators.
Distributors may hold inventory and sell to systems integrators, service providers, and other resellers. We refer to sales through distributors as our two-tier system of sales to the end customer. Revenue from two-tier distributors is recognized based on a sell-in method. These distributors may be given business terms that allow them to return a limited portion of inventory, receive credits for changes in selling prices, receive certain rebates, and participate in various cooperative marketing programs.
For information regarding risks related to our sales channels, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” including the risk factors entitled “Disruption of or changes in our distribution model could harm our sales and margins” and “Inventory management relating to our sales to our two-tier distribution channel is complex, and excess inventory may harm our gross margins.”
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For information regarding risks relating to our international operations, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” including the risk factors entitled “Our operating results may be adversely affected by unfavorable economic and market conditions and the uncertain geopolitical environment;” “Entrance into new or developing markets exposes us to additional competition and will likely increase demands on our service and support operations;” “Due to the global nature of our operations, political or economic changes or other factors in a specific country or region could harm our operating results and financial condition;” “We are exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates that could negatively impact our financial results and cash flows;” and “Cyber-attacks, data breaches or malware may disrupt our operations, harm our operating results and financial condition, and damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm our business; and cyber-attacks or data breaches on our customers’ networks, or in cloud-based services provided by or enabled by us, could result in claims of liability against us, damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm our business,” among others.
Our service offerings complement our products through a range of consulting, technical, project, quality, and software maintenance services, including 24-hour online and telephone support through technical assistance centers.
Financing Arrangements
We provide financing arrangements for certain qualified customers to build, maintain, and upgrade their networks. We believe customer financing is a competitive advantage in obtaining business, particularly for those customers involved in significant infrastructure projects. Our financing arrangements include the following:
Leases:
• Sales-type
• Direct financing
• Operating
Loans
Financed service contracts
Channels financing arrangements
End-user financing arrangements
Acquisitions, Investments, and Alliances
The markets in which we compete require a wide variety of technologies, products, and capabilities. Our growth strategy is based on the components of innovation, which we sometimes refer to as “build, buy, partner, invest, and co-develop.” This five-prong approach to how we innovate can be summarized as follows:
BuildWorking within Cisco, with the developer community, or with customers
BuyAcquiring or divesting, depending on goals
PartnerStrategically partnering to further build out the business
InvestMaking investments in areas where technology is in its infancy or where there is no dominant technology
Co-developDeveloping new solutions with multi-party teams that may include customers, channel partners, startups, independent software vendors, and academics
Acquisitions
We have acquired many companies, and we expect to make future acquisitions. Mergers and acquisitions of high-technology companies are inherently risky, especially if the acquired company has yet to generate revenue. No assurance can be given that our previous or future acquisitions will be successful or will not materially adversely affect our financial condition or operating results. Prior acquisitions have resulted in a wide range of outcomes, from successful introduction of new products and technologies to an inability to do so. The risks associated with acquisitions are more fully discussed in “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” including the risk factor entitled “We have made and expect to continue to make acquisitions that could disrupt our operations and harm our operating results.”
Investments in Privately Held Companies
We make investments in privately held companies that develop technology or provide services that are complementary to our products or that provide strategic value. The risks associated with these investments are more fully discussed in “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” including the risk factor entitled “We are exposed to fluctuations in the market values of our portfolio investments and in interest rates; impairment of our investments could harm our earnings.”

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Strategic Alliances
We pursue strategic alliances with other companies in areas where collaboration can produce industry advancement and accelerate new markets. The objectives and goals of a strategic alliance can include one or more of the following: technology exchange, product development, joint sales and marketing, or new market creation. Companies with which we have added or expanded strategic alliances during fiscal 2021 and in recent years include Apple Inc., Equinix Inc., Google LLC, International Business Machines Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and Amazon Web Services LLC, among others.
Companies with which we have strategic alliances in some areas may be competitors in other areas, and in our view this trend may increase. The risks associated with our strategic alliances are more fully discussed in “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” including the risk factor entitled “If we do not successfully manage our strategic alliances, we may not realize the expected benefits from such alliances and we may experience increased competition or delays in product development.”
Competition
We compete in the networking and communications equipment markets, providing products and services designed to transport, and help secure data, voice, and video traffic across cloud, private and public networks and the Internet. These market factors represent a competitive threat to us. We compete with numerous vendors in each product category. The overall number of our competitors providing niche product solutions may increase. Also, the identity and composition of competitors may change as we increase our activity in newer product areas, and in key priority and growth areas. As we continue to expand globally, we may see new competition in different geographic regions. In particular, we have experienced price-focused competition from competitors in Asia, especially from China, and we anticipate this will continue.
Our competitors (in each case relative to only some of our products or services) include: Amazon Web Services LLC; Arista Networks, Inc.; Broadcom Inc.; CommScope Holding Company, Inc.; Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.; CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc.; Dell Technologies Inc.; Dynatrace Inc.; F5 Networks, Inc.; FireEye, Inc.; Fortinet, Inc.; Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Company; Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.; Juniper Networks, Inc.; Lenovo Group Limited; LogMeIn, Inc.; Microsoft Corporation; New Relic, Inc.; Nokia Corporation; Nutanix, Inc.; Palo Alto Networks, Inc.; RingCentral, Inc.; Ubiquiti Inc.; VMware, Inc.; Zoom Video Communications, Inc.; and Zscaler, Inc.; among others.
Some of our competitors compete across many of our product lines, while others are primarily focused in a specific product area. Barriers to entry are relatively low, and new ventures to create products that do or could compete with our products are regularly formed. In addition, some of our competitors may have greater resources, including technical and engineering resources, than we do. As we expand into new markets, we will face competition not only from our existing competitors but also from other competitors, including existing companies with strong technological, marketing, and sales positions in those markets. We also sometimes face competition from resellers and distributors of our products. Companies with which we have strategic alliances in some areas may be competitors in other areas, and this trend may increase. For example, the enterprise data center is undergoing a fundamental transformation arising from the convergence of technologies, including computing, networking, storage, and software, that previously were segregated. Due to several factors, including the availability of highly scalable and general purpose microprocessors, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) offering advanced services, standards-based protocols, cloud computing and virtualization, the convergence of technologies within the enterprise data center is spanning multiple, previously independent, technology segments. Also, some of our current and potential competitors for enterprise data center business have made acquisitions, or announced new strategic alliances, designed to position them to provide end-to-end technology solutions for the enterprise data center. As a result of all of these developments, we face greater competition in the development and sale of enterprise data center technologies, including competition from entities that are among our long-term strategic alliance partners. Companies that are strategic alliance partners in some areas of our business may acquire or form alliances with our competitors, thereby reducing their business with us.
The principal competitive factors in the markets in which we presently compete and may compete in the future include the ability to sell successful business outcomes; the ability to provide a broad range of networking and communications products and services; product performance; price; the ability to introduce new products, including providing continuous new customer value and products with price-performance advantages; the ability to reduce production costs; the ability to provide value-added features such as security, reliability, and investment protection; conformance to standards; market presence; the ability to provide financing; and disruptive technology shifts and new business models.
We also face competition from customers to which we license or supply technology and suppliers from which we transfer technology. The inherent nature of networking requires interoperability. As such, we must cooperate and, at the same time, compete with many companies. Any inability to effectively manage these complicated relationships with customers, suppliers, and strategic alliance partners could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition and accordingly affect our chances of success.
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Research and Development
We regularly introduce new products and features to address the requirements of our markets. We allocate our research and development budget among our product categories, which consist of Infrastructure Platforms, Applications, Security, and Other Product technologies. Our research and development expenditures are applied generally to all product areas, with specific areas of focus being identified from time to time. Recent areas of increased focus include our networking technologies (which encompasses switching, routing, and wireless technologies within Infrastructure Platforms), conferencing, security, and analytics products. Our expenditures for research and development costs were expensed as incurred.
The industry in which we compete is subject to rapid technological developments, evolving standards, changes in customer requirements, and new product introductions and enhancements. As a result, our success depends, in part, on our ability, on a cost-effective and timely basis, to continue to enhance our existing products and to develop and introduce new products that improve performance and reduce total cost of ownership. To achieve these objectives, our management and engineering personnel work with customers to identify and respond to customer needs, as well as with other innovators of Internet networking products, including universities, laboratories, and corporations. We also expect to continue to make acquisitions and strategic investments, where appropriate, to provide us with access to new technologies. Nonetheless, there can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully develop products to address new customer requirements and technological changes or that those products will achieve market acceptance.
Manufacturing
We rely on contract manufacturers for our manufacturing needs. We presently use a variety of independent third-party companies to provide services related to printed-circuit board assembly, in-circuit test, product repair, and product assembly. Proprietary software in electronically programmable memory chips is used to configure products that meet customer requirements and to maintain quality control and security. The manufacturing process enables us to configure the hardware and software in unique combinations to meet a wide variety of individual customer requirements. The manufacturing process also uses automated testing equipment and burn-in procedures, as well as comprehensive inspection, testing, and statistical process controls, which are designed to help ensure the quality and reliability of our products. The manufacturing processes and procedures are generally certified to International Organization for Standardization 9001 standards.
Our arrangements with contract manufacturers generally provide for quality, cost, and delivery requirements, as well as manufacturing process terms, such as continuity of supply; inventory management; flexibility regarding capacity, quality, and cost management; oversight of manufacturing; and conditions for use of our intellectual property. We have not entered into any significant long-term contracts with any manufacturing service provider. We generally have the option to renew arrangements on an as-needed basis. These arrangements generally do not commit us to purchase any particular amount or any quantities beyond amounts covered by orders or forecasts that we submit covering discrete periods of time.
Patents, Intellectual Property, and Licensing
We seek to establish and maintain our proprietary rights in our technology and products through the use of patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secret laws. We have a program to file applications for and obtain patents, copyrights, and trademarks in the United States and in selected foreign countries where we believe filing for such protection is appropriate. We also seek to maintain our trade secrets and confidential information by nondisclosure policies and through the use of appropriate confidentiality agreements. We have obtained a substantial number of patents and trademarks in the United States and in other countries. There can be no assurance, however, that the rights obtained can be successfully enforced against infringing products in every jurisdiction. Although we believe the protection afforded by our patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets has value, the rapidly changing technology in the networking industry and uncertainties in the legal process make our future success dependent primarily on the innovative skills, technological expertise, and management abilities of our employees rather than on the protection afforded by patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret laws.
Many of our products are designed to include software or other intellectual property licensed from third parties. While it may be necessary in the future to seek or renew licenses relating to various aspects of our products, we believe, based upon past experience and standard industry practice, that such licenses generally could be obtained on commercially reasonable terms. Nonetheless, there can be no assurance that the necessary licenses would be available on acceptable terms, if at all. Our inability to obtain certain licenses or other rights or to obtain such licenses or rights on favorable terms, or the need to engage in litigation regarding these matters, could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. Moreover, inclusion in our products of software or other intellectual property licensed from third parties on a nonexclusive basis can limit our ability to protect our proprietary rights in our products.
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The industry in which we compete is characterized by rapidly changing technology, a large number of patents, and frequent claims and related litigation regarding patent and other intellectual property rights. There can be no assurance that our patents and other proprietary rights will not be challenged, invalidated, or circumvented; that others will not assert intellectual property rights to technologies that are relevant to us; or that our rights will give us a competitive advantage. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries may not protect our proprietary rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. The risks associated with patents and intellectual property are more fully discussed in “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” including the risk factors entitled “Our proprietary rights may prove difficult to enforce,” “We may be found to infringe on intellectual property rights of others,” and “We rely on the availability of third-party licenses.”
Environmental Sustainability
Sustainability and protecting the environment are both top priorities for Cisco. We have set long-term goals to address the environmental impacts from our products and business operations.
We strive to reduce the impacts of our operations and supply chain, help our customers decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and support our communities experiencing direct effects of a changing climate by, among others:
Continuing to invest in renewable energy, including investments in solar and wind energy;
Designing our products and packaging for reuse, repair, recycling, and resource efficiency and managing our equipment for multiple lifecycles;
Enhancing our Webex and other remote collaboration tools;
Investing in projects to improve the efficiency of our offices, labs, and data centers worldwide;
Working with our component suppliers, manufacturing partners, and logistic providers to reduce emissions and set targets for absolute GHG emissions reductions;
Helping our employees to engage with events and opportunities to raise awareness and create a sense of community around sustainability; and
Providing critical connectivity in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Talent and Culture
At Cisco, we value our people, our technology, and changing the world for the better with a focus on creating a more inclusive future. Our goal is to attract, retain, and develop talent in order to help our customers connect, secure and automate to accelerate their digital agility in a cloud-first world. Our relationship with our employees is one of mutual benefit, our employees bring talent and ingenuity to everything we do. In turn, we provide employees meaningful careers and development opportunities. As a testament to this, Cisco has been named as the number one place to work on the “World’s Best Workplaces List” by Great Places to Work and Fortune Magazine for 2019 and 2020.
As of July 31, 2021, we had approximately 79,500 full-time employees and they are categorized as follows:
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We have a responsibility to support our employees through times of change and enable them to be their best. We do this by fostering a Conscious Culture. Living a Conscious Culture requires us to act with dignity, respect, fairness, and equity in each of our interactions with one another, building a culture that allows us to become a catalyst for social change. By intentionally creating and cultivating an inclusive work environment where employees can thrive, we believe Cisco is helping to bring about a better world.
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Inclusion & Diversity
Inclusion and diversity are core components in our Conscious Culture. Inclusivity is our strength and our priority. We want every employee to feel valued, respected, and heard. We are prioritizing inclusion and diversity across the company, recognizing that connecting people of all experiences and backgrounds allows us to innovate and collaborate. In order to continue accelerating diversity and finding extraordinary talent, we have designed a framework that includes: introducing new tools and technologies to help accurately map the talent market, creating job roles that attract highly qualified diverse candidates, and expanding the diversity within our interview panels.
We currently have a total of 29 Inclusive Communities comprised of 11 Employee Resource Organizations and 18 Employee Networks supporting full-spectrum diversity globally, including gender, ethnicity, race, orientation, age, ability, veteran status, religion, culture, background, as well as varied experiences, strengths, and perspectives. These thriving communities continue to be a source of strength and support for employees, and they help to foster a more conscious culture by providing opportunities for proximity and learning.
Cisco has signed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Pledge. The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Pledge is a CEO-driven business commitment to drive measurable action and meaningful change in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. We are delivering on this pledge by accelerating full-spectrum diversity — including gender, age, race, ethnicity, orientation, ability, nationality, religion, veteran status, background, culture, experience, strengths and perspectives. At Cisco, it starts at the top: 46% of our Executive Leadership Team (ELT) are women and 54% are diverse in terms of gender or ethnicity.
We publish certain gender diversity and ethnic diversity workforce data annually. Across our global company, we have driven broad improvements in overall workforce diversity. Based on our annual fiscal 2020 data, our global employee base was 27% female and 73% male, and our U.S. employee base was comprised of the following ethnicities: 51.8% White/Caucasian, 36.5% Asian, 5.8% Hispanic/Latino, 4.1% African American/Black, 1.4% two or more races (Not Hispanic or Latino), and 0.4% additional groups (including American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander).
With respect to social justice, Cisco is taking a stand and partnering across the globe to multiply our positive impact throughout our communities. In September 2020, we announced our Social Justice Beliefs & Actions, which is our blueprint for how Cisco will show up when we see inequality and injustice in the world.
This work is part of a plan for Cisco to drive transformational, generational impact for vulnerable communities. Our Inclusive Future Action Office helps drive progress and excellence in our strategic actions in this area, which are designed to address the broader ecosystem including our employees, partners, customers and suppliers.
At present, our Inclusive Future Action Office is focused on driving impacts through our strategic actions in the African American/Black community, but these actions will be the blueprint for how we help address inequity in communities around the world in the future. We are creating actions that can be replicated and scaled and are designed to cover the full spectrum of diversity, inclusive of gender, generation, race, ethnicity, orientation, ability, nationality and background - the foundation of our Conscious Culture.
Compensation and Benefits
Our total compensation philosophy is designed to attract, reward & retain talent. It provides market competitive, performance-based compensation aligned with each employee’s contribution and impact to the value we drive to our customers, partners and stockholders. We reward and recognize our employees for effecting innovation, collaboration, profitability, and growth within our geographies, product lines, and functions.
Cisco has always been committed to compensating our employees fairly and equitably. We are a founding signer of the White House Equal Pay Pledge and the Parity.org pledge, and we are leading the charge to make fair pay a reality for all employees through the Employers for Pay Equity Consortium. We have also introduced an innovative and inclusive framework that provides us powerful analytics to evaluate our complex compensation system. For example, by using these powerful analytics, we are able to test for pay parity on a regular basis, and when gaps are found, we strive to correct them.
Health & Well-being
We have an ongoing commitment to focus on the health, safety, and well-being of our employees. We provide our employees and their families high-quality, flexible and convenient benefits and resources for their physical, mental, and financial well-being. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees have continually had to focus on how to balance careers and personal lives, all while managing their own physical, emotional, and financial health. During fiscal 2021, most of our global workforce was working from home. In addition, we are moving towards a hybrid work model, giving our employees the flexibility to work offsite or onsite Cisco locations. We developed a COVID-19 response and recovery strategy with a focus on both physical and mental health, recognizing the need to create an environment where employees can speak openly about
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mental health. In fiscal 2021, we continued to offer employees “A Day for Me,” which were paid days off that allowed for each individual to recharge and rest.
Employee Development
We believe in open-ended, self-directed learning, understanding that each individual knows what skills and resources they need to succeed. We encourage employees to explore job roles outside of their daily work and encourage everyone to harness their strengths and improve the way we all work. Employees choose their own path and we support that choice by providing them tools and resources to help them achieve their career goals.
Employee Engagement
We believe that strong communication is key in our Conscious Culture. This communication includes regular, virtual all hands, which we refer to as a “Cisco Check-In,” and weekly team leader check-ins, which we refer to as a “Team Space Check-In.” Our regular virtual Cisco Check-Ins were initially launched with a focus on sharing medical information at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cisco Check-Ins have since evolved into a forum where we can discuss much more with our employees, from business updates to social justice to physical and mental health.
In fiscal 2021, we have seen high level of employee engagement. For example, there were approximately 2 million Team Space Check-Ins by our employees in fiscal 2021, reflecting 85% of employees submitting Team Space Check-Ins. Employees also participate in our global Engagement Pulse Survey and the Real Deal Survey. These surveys allow our employees to provide confidential feedback on our culture, company strategy and trust in their direct leaders.
CSR Impact Report
Additional information regarding Cisco's activities related to its people and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as well as our workforce diversity data, can be found in our CSR Impact Report and related supplemental information, which are located on our ESG Reporting Hub at https://www.cisco.com/c/m/en_us/about/csr/esg-hub.html. The contents of our CSR Impact Report and related supplemental information are not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K or in any other report or document we file with the SEC.
Information about our Executive Officers
The following table shows the name, age, and position as of August 31, 2021 of each of our executive officers:
NameAge Position with the Company
Charles H. Robbins55Chair and Chief Executive Officer
Gerri Elliott65Executive Vice President and Chief Customer and Partner Officer
R. Scott Herren59Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Maria Martinez63Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Deborah L. Stahlkopf51Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer
Mr. Robbins serves as our Chief Executive Officer since July 2015, as a member of the Board of Directors since May 2015, and as Chair of the Board since December 2017. Mr. Robbins joined Cisco in December 1997, from which time until March 2002 he held a number of managerial positions within Cisco’s sales organization. Mr. Robbins was promoted to Vice President in March 2002, assuming leadership of Cisco’s U.S. channel sales organization. Additionally, in July 2005, Mr. Robbins assumed leadership of Cisco’s Canada channel sales organization. In December 2007, Mr. Robbins was promoted to Senior Vice President, U.S. Commercial, and, in August 2009 he was appointed Senior Vice President, U.S. Enterprise, Commercial and Canada. In July 2011, Mr. Robbins was named Senior Vice President, Americas. In October 2012, Mr. Robbins was promoted to Senior Vice President, Worldwide Field Operations, in which position he served until assuming the role of Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Robbins is also a member of the board of directors of BlackRock, Inc (since 2017).
Ms. Elliott joined Cisco in April 2018 and serves as our Executive Vice President and Chief Customer and Partner Officer. Ms. Elliott is a former Executive Vice President of Juniper Networks, Inc. (“Juniper”), where she served as Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer from March 2013 to February 2014, Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer from July 2011 to March 2013, and Executive Vice President, Strategic Alliances from June 2009 to July 2011. Before joining Juniper, Ms. Elliott held a series of senior executive positions with Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) from 2001-2008, including as Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Industry Solutions Group, Worldwide Public Sector and North American Enterprise Sales organizations. Prior to joining Microsoft, Ms. Elliott spent 22 years at International Business Machines Corporation (“IBM”), where she held several senior executive positions both in the U.S. and internationally. Ms. Elliott is a member of the board of directors of Whirlpool Corporation (since 2014) and Marqeta, Inc. (since 2021).
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Mr. Herren joined Cisco in December 2020 and serves as our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining Cisco, Mr. Herren served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Autodesk, Inc. (“Autodesk”) since November 2014. Prior to joining Autodesk, Mr. Herren served as Senior Vice President of Finance at Citrix Systems, Inc. (“Citrix”) from September 2011 to October 2014, and in a variety of other leadership roles after joining Citrix in March 2000, including as Vice President and Managing Director for EMEA and Vice President and General Manager of Citrix’s virtualization systems group. Before joining Citrix, Mr. Herren spent over 15 years in senior strategy and financial positions at FedEx Corporation and IBM.
Ms. Martinez joined Cisco in April 2018 and served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Experience Officer until her appointment as our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in March 2021. Prior to joining Cisco, Ms. Martinez served in a variety of senior executive roles at salesforce.com, inc. (“Salesforce”), including as President, Global Customer Success and Latin America from March 2016 to April 2018; President, Sales and Customer Success from February 2013 to March 2016; Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer from February 2012 to February 2013; and as Executive Vice President, Customers for Life from February 2010 to February 2012. Ms. Martinez’s experience prior to Salesforce includes serving as Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Services at Microsoft, President and Chief Executive Officer of Embrace Networks, Inc. and various senior leadership roles at Motorola, Inc. and AT&T Inc./Bell Laboratories. Ms. Martinez is a member of the board of directors of McKesson Corporation (since 2019).
Ms. Stahlkopf joined Cisco in August 2021 and serves as our Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. Prior to joining Cisco, Ms. Stahlkopf spent 14 years at Microsoft, where she served most recently as Corporate Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Corporate, External and Legal Affairs from April 2018 to July 2021. Ms. Stahlkopf also served in other leadership roles at Microsoft, including as Vice President and Deputy General Counsel from December 2015 to April 2018 and as Associate General Counsel from December 2010 to December 2015. Prior to joining Microsoft, Ms. Stahlkopf practiced law at Perkins Coie LLP and Cooley Godward LLP.

Item 1A.Risk Factors
Set forth below and elsewhere in this report and in other documents we file with the SEC are descriptions of the risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the results contemplated by the forward-looking statements contained in this report.
Risks Related to our Business and Industry
Our business, results of operations and financial condition have been adversely affected and could in the future be materially adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting containment measures have caused economic and financial disruptions globally, including in most of the regions in which we sell our products and services and conduct our business operations. In the second half of fiscal 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on our financial results and business operations, with a significant impact in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 on our supply chain where we saw manufacturing challenges and component constraints. We continue to address these supply chain challenges and cost impacts, which we expect will continue at least through the first half of fiscal 2022 and potentially into the second half of fiscal 2022. The magnitude and duration of the disruption, its continuing impact on us, and resulting decline in global business activity is uncertain. These disruptions include the unprecedented actions taken to try to contain the pandemic such as travel bans and restrictions, business closures, and social distancing measures, such as quarantines and shelter-in-place orders.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the responsive measures taken in many countries have adversely affected and could in the future materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Shelter-in-place orders and other measures, including work-from-home and other policies implemented to protect workers, has and could in the future impact our supply chain. Such disruptions may continue, or worsen, in the future. In addition, current and future restrictions or disruptions of transportation, such as reduced availability of air transport, port closures, and increased border controls or closures, can also impact our ability to meet customer demand and could materially adversely affect us. Our customers have also experienced, and may continue to experience, disruptions in their operations, which can result in delayed, reduced, or canceled orders, and increased collection risks, and which may adversely affect our results of operations. The COVID-19 pandemic may also result in long-term changes in customer needs for our products and services in various sectors, along with IT-related capital spending reductions, or shifts in spending focus, that could materially adversely affect us if we are unable to adjust our product and service offerings to match customer needs.
The recent shift to a remote working environment also creates challenges. For example, governmental lockdowns, restrictions or new regulations has and could in the future impact the ability of our employees and vendors to work with the same speed and productivity in certain areas, even as other areas do not see negative impact. The extent and/or duration of ongoing workforce
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restrictions and limitations could impact our ability to enhance, develop and support existing products and services, and hold product sales and marketing events to the extent we were able to previously. In addition, malefactors are seeking to use the COVID-19 pandemic to launch new cyber-attacks. The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to increased disruption and volatility in capital markets and credit markets. The pandemic and resulting economic uncertainty could adversely affect our liquidity and capital resources in the future. The inputs into certain of our judgments, assumptions, and estimates considered the economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on our critical and significant accounting estimates. The actual results that we experience may differ materially from our estimates. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, many of our estimates could require increased judgment and carry a higher degree of variability and volatility. As events continue to evolve our estimates may change materially in future periods.
We are continuing to monitor the pandemic and take appropriate actions in accordance with the recommendations and requirements of relevant authorities. The extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operational and financial performance is currently uncertain and will depend on many factors outside our control, including, without limitation, the timing, extent, trajectory and duration of the pandemic, the development and availability of effective treatments and vaccines, the imposition of protective public safety measures, and the impact of the pandemic on the global economy. Potential negative impacts of these external factors include, but are not limited to, material adverse effects on demand for our products and services; our supply chain and sales and distribution channels; collectability of customer accounts; our ability to execute strategic plans; impairments; and our profitability and cost structure. To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our business, results of operations and financial condition, it may also have the effect of exacerbating the other risks discussed in this “Risk Factors” section.
Our operating results may fluctuate in future periods, which may adversely affect our stock price.
Our operating results have been in the past, and will continue to be, subject to quarterly and annual fluctuations as a result of numerous factors, some of which may contribute to more pronounced fluctuations in an uncertain global economic environment. These factors include:
Fluctuations in demand for our products and services, especially with respect to service providers and Internet businesses, in part due to changes in the global economic environment
Changes in sales and implementation cycles for our products and reduced visibility into our customers’ spending plans and associated revenue
Our ability to maintain appropriate inventory levels and purchase commitments
Price and product competition in the communications and networking industries, which can change rapidly due to technological innovation and different business models from various geographic regions
The overall movement toward industry consolidation among both our competitors and our customers
The introduction and market acceptance of new technologies and products, and our success in new and evolving markets, and in emerging technologies, as well as the adoption of new standards
The transformation of our business to deliver more software and subscription offerings where revenue is recognized over time
Variations in sales channels, product costs, mix of products sold, or mix of direct sales and indirect sales
The timing, size, and mix of orders from customers
Manufacturing and customer lead times
Fluctuations in our gross margins, and the factors that contribute to such fluctuations
The ability of our customers, channel partners, contract manufacturers and suppliers to obtain financing or to fund capital expenditures, especially during a period of global credit market disruption or in the event of customer, channel partner, contract manufacturer or supplier financial problems
Actual events, circumstances, outcomes, and amounts differing from judgments, assumptions, and estimates used in determining the values of certain assets (including the amounts of related valuation allowances), liabilities, and other items reflected in our Consolidated Financial Statements
How well we execute on our strategy and operating plans and the impact of changes in our business model that could result in significant restructuring charges
Our ability to achieve targeted cost reductions
Benefits anticipated from our investments
Changes in tax laws or accounting rules, or interpretations thereof
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As a consequence, operating results for a particular future period are difficult to predict, and, therefore, prior results are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected in future periods. Any of the foregoing factors, or any other factors discussed elsewhere herein, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition that could adversely affect our stock price.
Our operating results may be adversely affected by unfavorable economic and market conditions and the uncertain geopolitical environment.
Challenging economic conditions worldwide have from time to time contributed, and may continue to contribute, to slowdowns in the communications and networking industries at large, as well as in specific segments and markets in which we operate, resulting in: reduced demand for our products as a result of continued constraints on IT-related capital spending by our customers, particularly service providers, and other customer markets as well; increased price competition for our products, not only from our competitors but also as a consequence of customers disposing of unutilized products; risk of excess and obsolete inventories; risk of supply constraints; risk of excess facilities and manufacturing capacity; and higher overhead costs as a percentage of revenue and higher interest expense.
The global macroeconomic environment continues to be challenging and inconsistent, and is being significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. During fiscal 2020 and the first quarter of fiscal 2021, we continued to see a broad-based weakening in the global macroeconomic environment which impacted our commercial and enterprise markets. We also experienced continuing weakness in emerging countries, and we expect ongoing uncertainty in this market. Additionally, instability in the global credit markets, the impact of uncertainty regarding global central bank monetary policy, the instability in the geopolitical environment in many parts of the world including as a result of the United Kingdom “Brexit” withdrawal from the European Union, the current economic challenges in China, including global economic ramifications of Chinese economic difficulties, and other disruptions may continue to put pressure on global economic conditions. If global economic and market conditions, or economic conditions in key markets, remain uncertain or deteriorate further, we may experience material impacts on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Our operating results in one or more segments may also be affected by uncertain or changing economic conditions particularly germane to that segment or to particular customer markets within that segment. In addition, reports of certain intelligence gathering methods of the U.S. government could affect customers’ perception of the products of IT companies which design and manufacture products in the United States. Trust and confidence in us as an IT supplier are critical to the development and growth of our markets. Impairment of that trust, or foreign regulatory actions taken in response to reports of certain intelligence gathering methods of the U.S. government, could affect the demand for our products from customers outside of the United States and could have an adverse effect on our operating results.
Our revenue for a particular period is difficult to predict, and a shortfall in revenue may harm our operating results.
As a result of a variety of factors discussed in this report, our revenue for a particular quarter is difficult to predict, especially in light of a challenging and inconsistent global macroeconomic environment, the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and related market uncertainty. Our revenue may grow at a slower rate than in past periods or decline as it did in the first quarter of fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2020, and in certain prior periods on a year-over-year basis. Our ability to meet financial expectations could also be adversely affected if the nonlinear sales pattern seen in some of our past quarters recurs in future periods. We have experienced periods of time during which shipments have exceeded net bookings or manufacturing issues have delayed shipments, leading to nonlinearity in shipping patterns. In addition to making it difficult to predict revenue for a particular period, nonlinearity in shipping can increase costs, because irregular shipment patterns result in periods of underutilized capacity and periods in which overtime expenses may be incurred, as well as in potential additional inventory management-related costs. In addition, to the extent that manufacturing issues and any related component shortages result in delayed shipments in the future, and particularly in periods in which our contract manufacturers are operating at higher levels of capacity, it is possible that revenue for a quarter could be adversely affected if such matters occur and are not remediated within the same quarter.
The timing of large orders can also have a significant effect on our business and operating results from quarter to quarter. From time to time, we receive large orders that have a significant effect on our operating results in the period in which the order is recognized as revenue. The timing of such orders is difficult to predict, and the timing of revenue recognition from such orders may affect period to period changes in revenue. As a result, our operating results could vary materially from quarter to quarter based on the receipt of such orders and their ultimate recognition as revenue. Longer than normal manufacturing lead times in the past have caused, and in the future could cause, some customers to place the same or a similar order multiple times within our various sales channels and to cancel the duplicative orders upon shipment or receipt of the product, or to also place orders with other vendors with shorter manufacturing lead times. Such multiple ordering (along with other factors) or risk of order cancellation may cause difficulty in predicting our revenue. Further, our efforts to improve manufacturing lead-time performance may result in more variability and less predictability in our revenue and operating results. In addition, when facing
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component supply-related challenges we have increased our efforts in procuring components in order to meet customer expectations, which in turn contribute to an increase in inventory and purchase commitments. For example, in fiscal 2021, we increased our inventory and purchase commitments in light of the supply chain challenges seen industrywide due to component shortages, caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. These increases in our inventory and purchase commitments to shorten lead times could also lead to significant excess and obsolete inventory charges if the demand for our products is less than our expectations. We plan our operating expense levels based primarily on forecasted revenue levels. These expenses and the impact of long-term commitments are relatively fixed in the short term. A shortfall in revenue could lead to operating results being below expectations because we may not be able to quickly reduce these fixed expenses in response to short-term business changes. Any of the above factors could have a material adverse impact on our operations and financial results.
Supply chain issues, including financial problems of contract manufacturers or component suppliers, or a shortage of adequate component supply or manufacturing capacity that increase our costs or cause a delay in our ability to fulfill orders, could have an adverse impact on our business and operating results, and our failure to estimate customer demand properly may result in excess or obsolete component supply, which could adversely affect our gross margins.
The fact that we do not own or operate the bulk of our manufacturing facilities and that we are reliant on our extended supply chain could have an adverse impact on the supply of our products and on our business and operating results. Financial problems of either contract manufacturers or component suppliers, reservation of manufacturing capacity at our contract manufacturers by other companies, and industry consolidation occurring within one or more component supplier markets, such as the semiconductor market, in each case, could either limit supply or increase costs.
A reduction or interruption in supply, including disruptions on our global supply chain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or a significant natural disaster (including as a result of climate change); a significant increase in the price of one or more components; a failure to adequately authorize procurement of inventory by our contract manufacturers; a failure to appropriately cancel, reschedule, or adjust our requirements based on our business needs; or a decrease in demand for our products could materially adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition and could materially damage customer relationships. Furthermore, as a result of binding price or purchase commitments with suppliers, we may be obligated to purchase components at prices that are higher than those available in the current market. In the event that we become committed to purchase components at prices in excess of the current market price when the components are actually used, our gross margins could decrease. In addition, vendors may be under pressure to allocate product to certain customers for business, regulatory or political reasons, and/or demand changes in agreed pricing as a condition of supply. Although we have generally secured additional supply or taken other mitigation actions when significant disruptions have occurred, if similar situations occur in the future, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Our growth and ability to meet customer demands depend in part on our ability to obtain timely deliveries of parts from our suppliers and contract manufacturers. We have experienced component shortages in the past, including shortages caused by manufacturing process issues, that have affected our operations, including longer than normal lead times. There is currently a market shortage of semiconductor and other component supply which has affected, and could further affect, lead times, the cost of that supply, and our ability to meet customer demand for our products if we cannot secure sufficient supply in a timely manner. We expect these supply chain challenges and cost impacts to continue through at least the first half of fiscal 2022 and potentially into the second half of fiscal 2022. Additionally, we may in the future experience a shortage of certain component parts as a result of our own manufacturing issues, manufacturing issues at our suppliers or contract manufacturers, capacity problems experienced by our suppliers or contract manufacturers including capacity or cost problems resulting from industry consolidation, or strong demand for those parts. Growth in the economy is likely to create greater pressures on us and our suppliers to accurately project overall component demand and component demands within specific product categories and to establish optimal component levels and manufacturing capacity, especially for labor-intensive components, components for which we purchase a substantial portion of the supply, or the re-ramping of manufacturing capacity for highly complex products. During periods of shortages or delays the price of components may increase, or the components may not be available at all, and we may also encounter shortages if we do not accurately anticipate our needs. We may not be able to secure enough components at reasonable prices or of acceptable quality to build new products in a timely manner in the quantities or configurations needed. Accordingly, our revenue and gross margins could suffer until other sources can be developed.
Our operating results would also be adversely affected if, anticipating greater demand than actually develops, we commit to the purchase of more components than we need, which is more likely to occur in a period of demand uncertainties such as we are currently experiencing. There can be no assurance that we will not encounter these problems in the future. Although in many cases we use standard parts and components for our products, certain components are presently available only from a single source or limited sources, and a global economic downturn and related market uncertainty could negatively impact the availability of components from one or more of these sources, especially during times such as we have recently seen when there are supplier constraints based on labor and other actions taken during economic downturns. We may not be able to diversify
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sources in a timely manner, which could harm our ability to deliver products to customers and seriously impact present and future sales.
We believe that we may be faced with the following challenges in the future: new markets in which we participate may grow quickly, which may make it difficult to quickly obtain significant component capacity; as we acquire companies and new technologies, we may be dependent on unfamiliar supply chains or relatively small supply partners; and we face competition for certain components that are supply-constrained, from existing competitors, and companies in other markets.
Manufacturing capacity and component supply constraints could continue to be significant issues for us. We purchase components from a variety of suppliers and use several contract manufacturers to provide manufacturing services for our products. During the normal course of business, in order to improve manufacturing lead-time performance and to help ensure adequate component supply, we enter into agreements with contract manufacturers and suppliers that either allow them to procure inventory based upon criteria as defined by us or that establish the parameters defining our requirements. In certain instances, these agreements allow us the option to cancel, reschedule, and adjust our requirements based on our business needs prior to firm orders being placed. When facing component supply-related challenges we have increased our efforts in procuring components in order to meet customer expectations, which in turn contributes to an increase in inventory and purchase commitments. For example, in fiscal 2021, we increased our inventory and purchase commitments in light of the supply chain challenges seen industrywide due to component shortages, caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. These increases in our inventory and purchase commitments to shorten lead times could also lead to significant excess and obsolete inventory charges if the demand for our products is less than our expectations. If we fail to anticipate customer demand properly, an oversupply of parts could result in excess or obsolete components that could adversely affect our gross margins. For additional information regarding our purchase commitments with contract manufacturers and suppliers, see Note 14 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
We expect gross margin to vary over time, and our level of product gross margin may not be sustainable.
Our level of product gross margins declined in fiscal 2021 and have declined in certain prior periods on a year-over-year basis, and could decline in future periods due to adverse impacts from various factors, including:
Changes in customer, geographic, or product mix, including mix of configurations within each product group
Introduction of new products, including products with price-performance advantages, and new business models including the transformation of our business to deliver more software and subscription offerings
Our ability to reduce production costs
Entry into new markets or growth in lower margin markets, including markets with different pricing and cost structures, through acquisitions or internal development
Sales discounts
Increases in material, labor or other manufacturing-related costs (i.e. component costs, broker fees, expedited freight and overtime) or higher supply chain logistics costs, any of which could be significant, especially during periods of supply constraints for certain costs, such as those impacting the market for components, including semiconductors and memory
Excess inventory, inventory holding charges, and obsolescence charges
Changes in shipment volume
The timing of revenue recognition and revenue deferrals
Increased cost (including those caused by tariffs), loss of cost savings or dilution of savings due to changes in component pricing or charges incurred due to inventory holding periods if parts ordering does not correctly anticipate product demand or if the financial health of either contract manufacturers or suppliers deteriorates
Lower than expected benefits from value engineering
Increased price competition, including competitors from Asia, especially from China
Changes in distribution channels
Increased warranty or royalty costs
Increased amortization of purchased intangible assets, especially from acquisitions
How well we execute on our strategy and operating plans
Changes in service gross margin may result from various factors such as changes in the mix between technical support services and advanced services, as well as the timing of technical support service contract initiations and renewals and the addition of personnel and other resources to support higher levels of service business in future periods.
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Sales to the service provider market are especially volatile, and weakness in orders from this industry may harm our operating results and financial condition.
Sales to the service provider market have been characterized by large and sporadic purchases, especially relating to our router sales and sales of certain other Infrastructure Platforms and Applications products, in addition to longer sales cycles. Service provider product orders decreased during the first quarter of fiscal 2021 and in certain prior periods, and at various times in the past, including in recent quarters, we have experienced significant weakness in product orders from service providers. Product orders from the service provider market could continue to decline and, as has been the case in the past, such weakness could persist over extended periods of time given fluctuating market conditions. Sales activity in this industry depends upon the stage of completion of expanding network infrastructures; the availability of funding; and the extent to which service providers are affected by regulatory, economic, and business conditions in the country of operations. Weakness in orders from this industry, including as a result of any slowdown in capital expenditures by service providers (which may be more prevalent during a global economic downturn, or periods of economic, political or regulatory uncertainty), could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. Such slowdowns may continue or recur in future periods. Orders from this industry could decline for many reasons other than the competitiveness of our products and services within their respective markets. For example, in the past, many of our service provider customers have been materially and adversely affected by slowdowns in the general economy, by overcapacity, by changes in the service provider market, by regulatory developments, and by constraints on capital availability, resulting in business failures and substantial reductions in spending and expansion plans. These conditions have materially harmed our business and operating results in the past, and could affect our business and operating results in any future period. Finally, service provider customers typically have longer implementation cycles; require a broader range of services, including design services; demand that vendors take on a larger share of risks; often require acceptance provisions, which can lead to a delay in revenue recognition; and expect financing from vendors. All these factors can add further risk to business conducted with service providers.
Disruption of or changes in our distribution model could harm our sales and margins.
If we fail to manage distribution of our products and services properly, or if our distributors’ financial condition or operations weaken, our revenue and gross margins could be adversely affected. A substantial portion of our products and services is sold through our channel partners, and the remainder is sold through direct sales. Our channel partners include systems integrators, service providers, other resellers, and distributors. Systems integrators and service providers typically sell directly to end users and often provide system installation, technical support, professional services, and other support services in addition to network equipment sales. Systems integrators also typically integrate our products into an overall solution, and a number of service providers are also systems integrators. Distributors stock inventory and typically sell to systems integrators, service providers, and other resellers. We refer to sales through distributors as our two-tier system of sales to the end customer. If sales through indirect channels increase, this may lead to greater difficulty in forecasting the mix of our products and, to a degree, the timing of orders from our customers.
Historically, we have seen fluctuations in our gross margins based on changes in the balance of our distribution channels. There can be no assurance that changes in the balance of our distribution model in future periods would not have an adverse effect on our gross margins and profitability. Some factors could result in disruption of or changes in our distribution model, which could harm our sales and margins, including the following: competition with some of our channel partners, including through our direct sales, which may lead these channel partners to use other suppliers that do not directly sell their own products or otherwise compete with them; some of our channel partners may demand that we absorb a greater share of the risks that their customers may ask them to bear; some of our channel partners may have insufficient financial resources and may not be able to withstand changes and challenges in business conditions; and revenue from indirect sales could suffer if our distributors’ financial condition or operations weaken. In addition, we depend on our channel partners globally to comply with applicable regulatory requirements. To the extent that they fail to do so, that could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. Further, sales of our products outside of agreed territories can result in disruption to our distribution channels.
The markets in which we compete are intensely competitive, which could adversely affect our achievement of revenue growth.
The markets in which we compete are characterized by rapid change, converging technologies, and a migration to networking and communications solutions that offer relative advantages. These market factors represent a competitive threat to us. We compete with numerous vendors in each product category. The overall number of our competitors providing niche product solutions may increase. Also, the identity and composition of competitors may change as we increase our activity in newer product areas, and in key priority and growth areas. For example, as products related to network programmability, such as software defined networking (SDN) products, become more prevalent, we expect to face increased competition from companies that develop networking products based on commoditized hardware, referred to as “white box” hardware, to the extent customers decide to purchase those product offerings instead of ours. In addition, the growth in demand for technology
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delivered as a service enables new competitors to enter the market. As we continue to expand globally, we may see new competition in different geographic regions. In particular, we have experienced price-focused competition from competitors in Asia, especially from China, and we anticipate this will continue. For information regarding our competitors, see the section entitled “Competition” contained in Item 1. Business of this report.
Some of our competitors compete across many of our product lines, while others are primarily focused in a specific product area. Barriers to entry are relatively low, and new ventures to create products that do or could compete with our products are regularly formed. In addition, some of our competitors may have greater resources, including technical and engineering resources, than we do. As we expand into new markets, we will face competition not only from our existing competitors but also from other competitors, including existing companies with strong technological, marketing, and sales positions in those markets. We also sometimes face competition from resellers and distributors of our products. Companies with which we have strategic alliances in some areas may be competitors in other areas, and this trend may increase. For example, the enterprise data center is undergoing a fundamental transformation arising from the convergence of technologies, including computing, networking, storage, and software, that previously were segregated. Due to several factors, including the availability of highly scalable and general purpose microprocessors, ASICs offering advanced services, standards based protocols, cloud computing and virtualization, the convergence of technologies within the enterprise data center is spanning multiple, previously independent, technology segments. Also, some of our current and potential competitors for enterprise data center business have made acquisitions, or announced new strategic alliances, designed to position them to provide end-to-end technology solutions for the enterprise data center. As a result of all of these developments, we face greater competition in the development and sale of enterprise data center technologies, including competition from entities that are among our long-term strategic alliance partners. Companies that are strategic alliance partners in some areas of our business may acquire or form alliances with our competitors, thereby reducing their business with us.
The principal competitive factors in the markets in which we presently compete and may compete in the future include the ability to sell successful business outcomes; the ability to provide a broad range of networking and communications products and services; product performance; price; the ability to introduce new products, including providing continuous new customer value and products with price-performance advantages; the ability to reduce production costs; the ability to provide value-added features such as security, reliability, and investment protection; conformance to standards; market presence; the ability to provide financing; and disruptive technology shifts and new business models.
We also face competition from customers to which we license or supply technology and suppliers from which we transfer technology. The inherent nature of networking requires interoperability. As such, we must cooperate and at the same time compete with many companies. Any inability to effectively manage these complicated relationships with customers, suppliers, and strategic alliance partners could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition and accordingly affect our chances of success.
If we do not successfully manage our strategic alliances, we may not realize the expected benefits from such alliances, and we may experience increased competition or delays in product development.
We have several strategic alliances with large and complex organizations and other companies with which we work to offer complementary products and services and, in the past, have established a joint venture to market services associated with our Cisco Unified Computing System products. These arrangements are generally limited to specific projects, the goal of which is generally to facilitate product compatibility and adoption of industry standards. There can be no assurance we will realize the expected benefits from these strategic alliances or from the joint venture. If successful, these relationships may be mutually beneficial and result in industry growth. However, alliances carry an element of risk because, in most cases, we must compete in some business areas with a company with which we have a strategic alliance and, at the same time, cooperate with that company in other business areas. Also, if these companies fail to perform or if these relationships fail to materialize as expected, we could suffer delays in product development or other operational difficulties. Joint ventures can be difficult to manage, given the potentially different interests of joint venture partners.
Inventory management relating to our sales to our two-tier distribution channel is complex, and excess inventory may harm our gross margins.
We must manage inventory relating to sales to our distributors effectively, because inventory held by them could affect our results of operations. Our distributors may increase orders during periods of product shortages, cancel orders if their inventory is too high, or delay orders in anticipation of new products. They also may adjust their orders in response to the supply of our products and the products of our competitors that are available to them, and in response to seasonal fluctuations in end-user demand. Our distributors are generally given business terms that allow them to return a portion of inventory, receive credits for changes in selling price, and participate in various cooperative marketing programs. Inventory management remains an area of focus as we balance the need to maintain strategic inventory levels to ensure competitive lead times against the risk of inventory obsolescence because of rapidly changing technology and customer requirements. When facing component supply-related
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challenges, we have increased our efforts in procuring components in order to meet customer expectations. If we ultimately determine that we have excess inventory, we may have to reduce our prices and write down inventory, which in turn could result in lower gross margins.
We depend upon the development of new products and services, and enhancements to existing products and services, and if we fail to predict and respond to emerging technological trends and customers’ changing needs, our operating results and market share may suffer.
The markets for our products and services are characterized by rapidly changing technology, evolving industry standards, new product and service introductions, and evolving methods of building and operating networks. Our operating results depend on our ability to develop and introduce new products and services into existing and emerging markets and to reduce the production costs of existing products. If customers do not purchase and/or renew our offerings our business could be harmed. The COVID-19 pandemic may also result in long-term changes in customer needs for our products and services in various sectors, along with IT-related capital spending reductions, or shifts in spending focus, that could materially adversely affect us if we are unable to adjust our product and service offerings to match customer needs.
The process of developing new technology, including more programmable, flexible and virtual networks, and technology related to other market transitions— such as security, digital transformation and IoT, and cloud— is complex and uncertain, and if we fail to accurately predict customers’ changing needs and emerging technological trends our business could be harmed. We must commit significant resources, including the investments we have been making in our strategic priorities to developing new products and services before knowing whether our investments will result in products and services the market will accept. In particular, if our model of the evolution of networking does not emerge as we believe it will, or if the industry does not evolve as we believe it will, or if our strategy for addressing this evolution is not successful, many of our strategic initiatives and investments may be of no or limited value. For example, if we do not introduce products related to network programmability, such as software-defined-networking products, in a timely fashion, or if product offerings in this market that ultimately succeed are based on technology, or an approach to technology, that differs from ours, such as, for example, networking products based on “white box” hardware, our business could be harmed. Similarly, our business could be harmed if we fail to develop, or fail to develop in a timely fashion, offerings to address other transitions, or if the offerings addressing these other transitions that ultimately succeed are based on technology, or an approach to technology, different from ours. In addition, our business could be adversely affected in periods surrounding our new product introductions if customers delay purchasing decisions to qualify or otherwise evaluate the new product offerings. We have also been transforming our business to move from selling individual products and services to selling products and services integrated into architectures and solutions, and we are seeking to meet the evolving needs of customers which include offering our products and solutions in the manner in which customers wish to consume them. As a part of this transformation, we continue to make changes to how we are organized and how we build and deliver our technology, including changes in our business models with customers. If our strategy for addressing our customer needs, or the architectures and solutions we develop do not meet those needs, or the changes we are making in how we are organized and how we build and deliver or technology is incorrect or ineffective, our business could be harmed.
Furthermore, we may not execute successfully on our vision or strategy because of challenges with regard to product planning and timing, technical hurdles that we fail to overcome in a timely fashion, or a lack of appropriate resources. This could result in competitors, some of which may also be our strategic alliance partners, providing those solutions before we do and loss of market share, revenue, and earnings. In addition, the growth in demand for technology delivered as a service enables new competitors to enter the market. The success of new products and services depends on several factors, including proper new product and service definition, component costs, timely completion and introduction of these products and services, differentiation of new products and services from those of our competitors, and market acceptance of these products and services. There can be no assurance that we will successfully identify new product and services opportunities, develop and bring new products and services to market in a timely manner, or achieve market acceptance of our products and services or that products, services and technologies developed by others will not render our products, services or technologies obsolete or noncompetitive. The products and technologies in our other product categories and key priority and growth areas may not prove to have the market success we anticipate, and we may not successfully identify and invest in other emerging or new products and services.
Changes in industry structure and market conditions could lead to charges related to discontinuances of certain of our products or businesses, asset impairments and workforce reductions or restructurings.
In response to changes in industry and market conditions, we may be required to strategically realign our resources and to consider restructuring, disposing of, or otherwise exiting businesses. Any resource realignment, or decision to limit investment in or dispose of or otherwise exit businesses, may result in the recording of special charges, such as inventory and technology-related write-offs, workforce reduction or restructuring costs, charges relating to consolidation of excess facilities, or claims from third parties who were resellers or users of discontinued products. Our estimates with respect to the useful life or ultimate recoverability of our carrying basis of assets, including purchased intangible assets, could change as a result of such
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assessments and decisions. Although in certain instances our supply agreements allow us the option to cancel, reschedule, and adjust our requirements based on our business needs prior to firm orders being placed, our loss contingencies may include liabilities for contracts that we cannot cancel with contract manufacturers and suppliers. Further, our estimates relating to the liabilities for excess facilities are affected by changes in real estate market conditions. Additionally, we are required to perform goodwill impairment tests on an annual basis and between annual tests in certain circumstances, and future goodwill impairment tests may result in a charge to earnings. We initiated a restructuring plan in the first quarter of fiscal 2021, which included a voluntary early retirement program, and which has now been substantially completed. Our business may not be more efficient or effective than prior to implementation of the plan. Our restructuring activities, including any related charges and the impact of the related headcount restructurings, could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Over the long term we intend to invest in engineering, sales, service and marketing activities, and in key priority and growth areas, and these investments may achieve delayed, or lower than expected, benefits which could harm our operating results.
While we intend to focus on managing our costs and expenses, over the long term, we also intend to invest in personnel and other resources related to our engineering, sales, service and marketing functions as we realign and dedicate resources on key priority and growth areas, such as Security and Applications, and we also intend to focus on maintaining leadership in Infrastructure Platforms and in Services. We are likely to recognize the costs associated with these investments earlier than some of the anticipated benefits, and the return on these investments may be lower, or may develop more slowly, than we expect. If we do not achieve the benefits anticipated from these investments (including if our selection of areas for investment does not play out as we expect), or if the achievement of these benefits is delayed, our operating results may be adversely affected.
We have made and expect to continue to make acquisitions that could disrupt our operations and harm our operating results.
Our growth depends upon market growth, our ability to enhance our existing products, and our ability to introduce new products on a timely basis. We intend to continue to address the need to develop new products and enhance existing products through acquisitions of other companies, product lines, technologies, and personnel. Acquisitions involve numerous risks, including the following:
Difficulties in integrating the operations, systems, technologies, products, and personnel of the acquired companies, particularly companies with large and widespread operations and/or complex products
Diversion of management’s attention from normal daily operations of the business and the challenges of managing larger and more widespread operations resulting from acquisitions
Potential difficulties in completing projects associated with in-process research and development intangibles
Difficulties in entering markets in which we have no or limited direct prior experience and where competitors in such markets have stronger market positions
Initial dependence on unfamiliar supply chains or relatively small supply partners
Insufficient revenue to offset increased expenses associated with acquisitions
The potential loss of key employees, customers, distributors, vendors and other business partners of the companies we acquire following and continuing after announcement of acquisition plans
Acquisitions may also cause us to:
Issue common stock that would dilute our current stockholders’ percentage ownership
Use a substantial portion of our cash resources, or incur debt
Significantly increase our interest expense, leverage and debt service requirements if we incur additional debt to pay for an acquisition
Assume liabilities
Record goodwill and intangible assets that are subject to impairment testing on a regular basis and potential periodic impairment charges
Incur amortization expenses related to certain intangible assets
Incur tax expenses related to the effect of acquisitions on our legal structure
Incur large write-offs and restructuring and other related expenses
Become subject to intellectual property or other litigation
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Mergers and acquisitions of high-technology companies are inherently risky and subject to many factors outside of our control, and no assurance can be given that our previous or future acquisitions will be successful and will not materially adversely affect our business, operating results, or financial condition. Failure to manage and successfully integrate acquisitions could materially harm our business and operating results. Prior acquisitions have resulted in a wide range of outcomes, from successful introduction of new products and technologies to a failure to do so. Even when an acquired company has already developed and marketed products, there can be no assurance that product enhancements will be made in a timely fashion or that pre-acquisition due diligence will have identified all possible issues that might arise with respect to such products. In addition, our effective tax rate for future periods is uncertain and could be impacted by mergers and acquisitions. Risks related to new product development also apply to acquisitions.
Entrance into new or developing markets exposes us to additional competition and will likely increase demands on our service and support operations.
As we focus on new market opportunities and key priority and growth areas, we will increasingly compete with large telecommunications equipment suppliers as well as startup companies. Several of our competitors may have greater resources, including technical and engineering resources, than we do. Additionally, as customers in these markets complete infrastructure deployments, they may require greater levels of service, support, and financing than we have provided in the past, especially in emerging countries. Demand for these types of service, support, or financing contracts may increase in the future. There can be no assurance that we can provide products, service, support, and financing to effectively compete for these market opportunities. Further, entry into other markets has subjected and will subject us to additional risks, particularly to those markets, including the effects of general market conditions and reduced consumer confidence. For example, as we add direct selling capabilities globally to meet changing customer demands, we will face increased legal and regulatory requirements.
Industry consolidation may lead to increased competition and may harm our operating results.
There is a continuing trend toward industry consolidation in our markets. We expect this trend to continue as companies attempt to strengthen or hold their market positions in an evolving industry and as companies are acquired or are unable to continue operations. For example, some of our current and potential competitors for enterprise data center business have made acquisitions, or announced new strategic alliances, designed to position them with the ability to provide end-to-end technology solutions for the enterprise data center. Companies that are strategic alliance partners in some areas of our business may acquire or form alliances with our competitors, thereby reducing their business with us. We believe that industry consolidation may result in stronger competitors that are better able to compete as sole-source vendors for customers. This could lead to more variability in our operating results and could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. Furthermore, particularly in the service provider market, rapid consolidation will lead to fewer customers, with the effect that loss of a major customer could have a material impact on results not anticipated in a customer marketplace composed of more numerous participants.
Product quality problems could lead to reduced revenue, gross margins, and net income.
We produce highly complex products that incorporate leading-edge technology, including both hardware and software. Software typically contains bugs that can unexpectedly interfere with expected operations. There can be no assurance that our pre-shipment testing programs will be adequate to detect all defects, either ones in individual products or ones that could affect numerous shipments, which might interfere with customer satisfaction, reduce sales opportunities, or affect gross margins. From time to time, we have had to replace certain components and provide remediation in response to the discovery of defects or bugs in products that we had shipped. There can be no assurance that such remediation, depending on the product involved, would not have a material impact. An inability to cure a product defect could result in the failure of a product line, temporary or permanent withdrawal from a product or market, damage to our reputation, inventory costs, or product reengineering expenses, any of which could have a material impact on our revenue, margins, and net income.
Due to the global nature of our operations, political or economic changes or other factors in a specific country or region could harm our operating results and financial condition.
We conduct significant sales and customer support operations in countries around the world. As such, our growth depends in part on our increasing sales into emerging countries. We also depend on non-U.S. operations of our contract manufacturers, component suppliers and distribution partners. Our business in emerging countries in the aggregate experienced a decline in orders in the first half of fiscal 2021 and in certain prior periods. We continue to assess the sustainability of any improvements in our business in these countries and there can be no assurance that our investments in these countries will be successful. Our future results could be materially adversely affected by a variety of political, economic or other factors relating to our operations inside and outside the United States, any or all of which could have a material adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition, including the following: impacts from global central bank monetary policy; issues related to the political relationship between the United States and other countries that can affect regulatory matters, affect the willingness of customers in those countries to purchase products from companies headquartered in the United States or affect our ability to
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procure components if a government body were to deny us access to those components; government-related disruptions or shutdowns; the challenging and inconsistent global macroeconomic environment; foreign currency exchange rates; political or social unrest; economic instability or weakness or natural disasters in a specific country or region, including economic challenges in China and global economic ramifications of Chinese economic difficulties; instability as a result of Brexit; environmental protection regulations (including new laws and regulations related to climate change), trade protection measures such as tariffs, and other legal and regulatory requirements, some of which may affect our ability to import our products to, export our products from, or sell our products in various countries or affect our ability to procure components; political considerations that affect service provider and government spending patterns; health or similar issues, including pandemics or epidemics such as the COVID-19 pandemic which could continue to affect customer purchasing decisions; difficulties in staffing and managing international operations; and adverse tax consequences, including imposition of withholding or other taxes on our global operations.
We are exposed to the credit risk of some of our customers and to credit exposures in weakened markets, which could result in material losses.
Most of our sales are on an open credit basis, with typical payment terms of 30 days in the United States and, because of local customs or conditions, longer in some markets outside the United States. Beyond our open credit arrangements, we have also experienced demands for customer financing and facilitation of leasing arrangements. Our loan financing arrangements may include not only financing the acquisition of our products and services but also providing additional funds for other costs associated with network installation and integration of our products and services. Our exposure to the credit risks relating to our financing activities may increase if our customers are adversely affected by a global economic downturn or periods of economic uncertainty. There can be no assurance that programs we have in place to monitor and mitigate credit risks will be effective. In the past, there have been significant bankruptcies among customers both on open credit and with loan or lease financing arrangements, particularly among Internet businesses and service providers, causing us to incur economic or financial losses. There can be no assurance that additional losses will not be incurred. Although these losses have not been material to date, future losses, if incurred, could harm our business and have a material adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition. Additionally, to the degree that turmoil in the credit markets makes it more difficult for some customers to obtain financing, those customers’ ability to pay could be adversely impacted, which in turn could have a material adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We are exposed to fluctuations in the market values of our portfolio investments and in interest rates; impairment of our investments could harm our earnings.
We maintain an investment portfolio of various holdings, types, and maturities. Our portfolio includes available-for-sale debt investments and equity investments, the values of which are subject to market price volatility. If such investments suffer market price declines, as we experienced with some of our investments in the past, we may recognize in earnings the decline in the fair value of our investments below their cost basis. Our privately held investments are subject to risk of loss of investment capital. These investments are inherently risky because the markets for the technologies or products they have under development are typically in the early stages and may never materialize. We could lose our entire investment in these companies. For information regarding the market risks associated with the fair value of portfolio investments and interest rates, refer to the section titled “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.”
We are exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates that could negatively impact our financial results and cash flows.
Because a significant portion of our business is conducted outside the United States, we face exposure to adverse movements in foreign currency exchange rates, including emerging market currencies which can have extreme currency volatility. An increase in the value of the dollar could increase the real cost to our customers of our products in those markets outside the United States where we sell in dollars and a weakened dollar could increase the cost of local operating expenses and procurement of raw materials to the extent that we must purchase components in foreign currencies. These exposures may change over time as business practices evolve, and they could have a material adverse impact on our financial results and cash flows.
Failure to retain and recruit key personnel would harm our ability to meet key objectives.
Our success has always depended in large part on our ability to attract and retain highly skilled technical, managerial, sales, and marketing personnel. Competition for these personnel is intense, especially in the Silicon Valley area of Northern California. Stock incentive plans are designed to reward employees for their long-term contributions and provide incentives for them to remain with us. Volatility or lack of positive performance in our stock price or equity incentive awards, or changes to our overall compensation program, including our stock incentive program, resulting from the management of share dilution and share-based compensation expense or otherwise, may also adversely affect our ability to retain key employees. As a result of one or more of these factors, we may increase our hiring in geographic areas outside the United States, which could subject us to additional geopolitical and exchange rate risk. The loss of services of any of our key personnel; the inability to retain and attract qualified personnel in the future; or delays in hiring required personnel, particularly engineering and sales personnel,
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could make it difficult to meet key objectives, such as timely and effective product introductions. In addition, companies in our industry whose employees accept positions with competitors frequently claim that competitors have engaged in improper hiring practices. We have received these claims in the past and may receive additional claims to this effect in the future.
Adverse resolution of litigation or governmental investigations may harm our operating results or financial condition.
We are a party to lawsuits in the normal course of our business. Litigation can be expensive, lengthy, and disruptive to normal business operations. Moreover, the results of complex legal proceedings are difficult to predict. An unfavorable resolution of lawsuits or governmental investigations could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, or financial condition. For additional information regarding certain of the matters in which we are involved, see Note 14 to the Consolidated Financial Statements, subsection (f) “Legal Proceedings.”
Our operating results may be adversely affected and damage to our reputation may occur due to production and sale of counterfeit versions of our products.
As is the case with leading products around the world, our products are subject to efforts by third parties to produce counterfeit versions of our products. While we work diligently with law enforcement authorities in various countries to block the manufacture of counterfeit goods and to interdict their sale, and to detect counterfeit products in customer networks, and have succeeded in prosecuting counterfeiters and their distributors, resulting in fines, imprisonment and restitution to us, there can be no guarantee that such efforts will succeed. While counterfeiters often aim their sales at customers who might not have otherwise purchased our products due to lack of verifiability of origin and service, such counterfeit sales, to the extent they replace otherwise legitimate sales, could adversely affect our operating results.
Changes in our provision for income taxes or adverse outcomes resulting from examination of our income tax returns could adversely affect our results.
Our provision for income taxes is subject to volatility and could be adversely affected by earnings being lower than anticipated in countries that have lower tax rates and higher than anticipated in countries that have higher tax rates; by changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities; by changes to foreign-derived intangible income, global intangible low-tax income and base erosion and anti-abuse tax laws, regulations, or interpretations thereof; by expiration of or lapses in tax incentives; by transfer pricing adjustments, including the effect of acquisitions on our legal structure; by tax effects of nondeductible compensation; by tax costs related to intercompany realignments; by changes in accounting principles; or by changes in tax laws and regulations, treaties, or interpretations thereof, including changes to the taxation of earnings of our foreign subsidiaries, the deductibility of expenses attributable to foreign income, and the foreign tax credit rules. Significant judgment is required to determine the recognition and measurement attribute prescribed in the accounting guidance for uncertainty in income taxes. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international association comprised of 38 countries, including the United States, has made changes and is contemplating additional changes to numerous long-standing tax principles. There can be no assurance that these changes and any contemplated changes if finalized, once adopted by countries, will not have an adverse impact on our provision for income taxes. Further, as a result of certain of our ongoing employment and capital investment actions and commitments, our income in certain countries was subject to reduced tax rates. Our failure to meet these commitments could adversely impact our provision for income taxes. In addition, we are subject to the continuous examination of our income tax returns by the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities. We regularly assess the likelihood of adverse outcomes resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of our provision for income taxes. There can be no assurance that the outcomes from these continuous examinations will not have an adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition.
Our business and operations are especially subject to the risks of earthquakes, floods, and other natural catastrophic events (including as a result of global climate change).
Our corporate headquarters, including certain of our research and development operations are located in the Silicon Valley area of Northern California, a region known for seismic activity. Additionally, a certain number of our facilities are located near rivers that have experienced flooding in the past. Also certain of our suppliers and logistics centers are located in regions that have been or may be affected by earthquake, tsunami and flooding activity which in the past has disrupted, and in the future could disrupt, the flow of components and delivery of products. In addition, global climate change may result in significant natural disasters occurring more frequently or with greater intensity, such as drought, wildfires, storms, sea-level rise, and flooding. A significant natural disaster, such as an earthquake, a hurricane, volcano, flood or a wildfire, could have a material adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Terrorism and other events may harm our business, operating results and financial condition.
The continued threat of terrorism and heightened security and military action in response to this threat, or any future acts of terrorism, may cause further disruptions to the economies of the United States and other countries and create further uncertainties or otherwise materially harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. Likewise, events such as loss
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of infrastructure and utilities services such as energy, transportation, or telecommunications could have similar negative impacts. To the extent that such disruptions or uncertainties result in delays or cancellations of customer orders or the manufacture or shipment of our products, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
There can be no assurance that our operating results and financial condition will not be adversely affected by our incurrence of debt.
As of the end of fiscal 2021, we have senior unsecured notes outstanding in an aggregate principal amount of $11.5 billion that mature at specific dates from calendar year 2021 through 2040. We have also established a commercial paper program under which we may issue short-term, unsecured commercial paper notes on a private placement basis up to a maximum aggregate amount outstanding at any time of $10.0 billion, and we had no commercial paper notes outstanding under this program as of July 31, 2021. There can be no assurance that our incurrence of this debt or any future debt will be a better means of providing liquidity to us than would our use of our existing cash resources. Further, we cannot be assured that our maintenance of this indebtedness or incurrence of future indebtedness will not adversely affect our operating results or financial condition. In addition, changes by any rating agency to our credit rating can negatively impact the value and liquidity of both our debt and equity securities, as well as the terms upon which we may borrow under our commercial paper program or future debt issuances.
Risks Related to Intellectual Property
Our proprietary rights may prove difficult to enforce.
We generally rely on patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secret laws to establish and maintain proprietary rights in our technology and products. Although we have been issued numerous patents and other patent applications are currently pending, there can be no assurance that any of these patents or other proprietary rights will not be challenged, invalidated, or circumvented or that our rights will, in fact, provide competitive advantages to us. Furthermore, many key aspects of networking technology are governed by industrywide standards, which are usable by all market entrants. In addition, there can be no assurance that patents will be issued from pending applications or that claims allowed on any patents will be sufficiently broad to protect our technology. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries may not protect our proprietary rights to the same extent as do the laws of the United States. The outcome of any actions taken in these foreign countries may be different than if such actions were determined under the laws of the United States. Although we are not dependent on any individual patents or group of patents for particular segments of the business for which we compete, if we are unable to protect our proprietary rights to the totality of the features (including aspects of products protected other than by patent rights) in a market, we may find ourselves at a competitive disadvantage to others who need not incur the substantial expense, time, and effort required to create innovative products that have enabled us to be successful.
We may be found to infringe on intellectual property rights of others.
Third parties, including customers, have in the past and may in the future assert claims or initiate litigation related to exclusive patent, copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights to technologies and related standards that are relevant to us. These assertions have increased over time as a result of our growth and the general increase in the pace of patent claims assertions, particularly in the United States. Because of the existence of a large number of patents in the networking field, the secrecy of some pending patents, and the rapid rate of issuance of new patents, it is not economically practical or even possible to determine in advance whether a product or any of its components infringes or will infringe on the patent rights of others. The asserted claims and/or initiated litigation can include claims against us or our manufacturers, suppliers, or customers, alleging infringement of their proprietary rights with respect to our existing or future products or components of those products. Regardless of the merit of these claims, they can be time-consuming, result in costly litigation and diversion of technical and management personnel, or require us to develop a non-infringing technology or enter into license agreements. Where claims are made by customers, resistance even to unmeritorious claims could damage customer relationships. There can be no assurance that licenses will be available on acceptable terms and conditions, if at all, or that our indemnification by our suppliers will be adequate to cover our costs if a claim were brought directly against us or our customers. Furthermore, because of the potential for high court awards that are not necessarily predictable, it is not unusual to find even arguably unmeritorious claims settled for significant amounts. If any infringement or other intellectual property claim made against us by any third party is successful, if we are required to indemnify a customer with respect to a claim against the customer, or if we fail to develop non-infringing technology or license the proprietary rights on commercially reasonable terms and conditions, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected. For additional information regarding our indemnification obligations, see Note 14(e) to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report. Our exposure to risks associated with the use of intellectual property may be increased as a result of acquisitions, as we have a lower level of visibility into the development process with respect to such technology or the care taken to safeguard against infringement risks. Further, in the
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past, third parties have made infringement and similar claims after we have acquired technology that had not been asserted prior to our acquisition.
We rely on the availability of third-party licenses.
Many of our products are designed to include software or other intellectual property licensed from third parties. It may be necessary in the future to seek or renew licenses relating to various aspects of these products. There can be no assurance that the necessary licenses would be available on acceptable terms, if at all. The inability to obtain certain licenses or other rights or to obtain such licenses or rights on favorable terms, or the need to engage in litigation regarding these matters, could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. Moreover, the inclusion in our products of software or other intellectual property licensed from third parties on a nonexclusive basis could limit our ability to protect our proprietary rights in our products.
Risks Related to Cybersecurity and Regulations
Cyber-attacks, data breaches or malware may disrupt our operations, harm our operating results and financial condition, and damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm our business; and cyber-attacks or data breaches on our customers’ networks, or in cloud-based services provided by or enabled by us, could result in claims of liability against us, damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm our business.
We experience cyber-attacks and other attempts to gain unauthorized access to our systems on a regular basis, and we anticipate continuing to be subject to such attempts. Despite our implementation of security measures, (i) our products and services, and (ii) the servers, data centers, and cloud-based solutions on which our and third-party data is stored, are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, data breaches, malware, and disruptions from unauthorized access, tampering or other theft or misuse, including by employees, malicious actors or inadvertent error. Such events have and could in the future compromise or disrupt access to or the operation of our products, services, and networks or those of our customers, or result in the information stored on our systems or those of our customers being improperly accessed, processed, disclosed, lost or stolen. We have not to date experienced a material event; however, the occurrence of any such event in the future could subject us to liability to our customers, suppliers, business partners and others, give rise to legal and/or regulatory action, could damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm our business, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. Efforts to limit the ability of malicious actors to disrupt the operations of the Internet or undermine our own security efforts may be costly to implement and may not be successful. Breaches of security in our customers’ networks, or in cloud-based services provided by or enabled by us, regardless of whether the breach is attributable to a vulnerability in our products or services, could result in claims of liability against us, damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm our business.
Vulnerabilities and critical security defects, prioritization decisions regarding remedying vulnerabilities or security defects, failure of third-party providers to remedy vulnerabilities or security defects, or customers not deploying security releases or deciding not to upgrade products, services or solutions could result in claims of liability against us, damage our reputation, or otherwise materially harm our business.
The products and services we sell to customers, and our cloud-based solutions, inevitably contain vulnerabilities or critical security defects which have not been remedied and cannot be disclosed without compromising security. We also make prioritization decisions in determining which vulnerabilities or security defects to fix and the timing of these fixes. Customers may also need to test security releases before they can be deployed which can delay implementation. In addition, we rely on third-party providers of software and cloud-based services, and we cannot control the rate at which they remedy vulnerabilities. When customers do not deploy specific releases, or decide not to upgrade to the latest versions of our products, services or cloud-based solutions containing the release, they may be left vulnerable. Vulnerabilities and critical security defects, prioritization errors in remedying vulnerabilities or security defects, failure of third-party providers to remedy vulnerabilities or security defects, or customers not deploying specific releases or deciding not to upgrade products, services or solutions could result in claims of liability against us, damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm our business.
Our business, operating results and financial condition could be materially harmed by regulatory uncertainty applicable to our products and services.
Changes in regulatory requirements applicable to the industries in which we operate, in the United States and in other countries, could materially affect the sales of our products and services. In particular, changes in telecommunications regulations could impact our service provider customers’ purchase of our products and offers, and they could also impact sales of our own regulated offers. In addition, evolving legal requirements restricting or controlling the collection, processing, or cross-border transmission of data, including regulation of cloud-based services, could materially affect our customers’ ability to use, and our ability to sell, our products and offers. Additional areas of uncertainty that could impact sales of our products and offers include laws and regulations related to encryption technology, environmental sustainability (including climate change), export control,
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product certification, and national security controls applicable to our supply chain. For example, new laws and regulations in response to climate change could result in increased energy efficiency for our products and increased compliance and energy costs. Changes in regulatory requirements in any of these areas could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Stock
Our stock price may be volatile.
Historically, our common stock has experienced substantial price volatility, particularly as a result of variations between our actual financial results and the published expectations of analysts and as a result of announcements by our competitors and us. Furthermore, speculation in the press or investment community about our strategic position, financial condition, results of operations, business, security of our products, or significant transactions can cause changes in our stock price. In addition, the stock market has experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have affected the market price of many technology companies, in particular, and that have often been unrelated to the operating performance of these companies. These factors, as well as general economic and political conditions and the announcement of proposed and completed acquisitions or other significant transactions, or any difficulties associated with such transactions, by us or our current or potential competitors, may materially adversely affect the market price of our common stock in the future. Additionally, volatility, lack of positive performance in our stock price or changes to our overall compensation program, including our stock incentive program, may adversely affect our ability to retain key employees, virtually all of whom are compensated, in part, based on the performance of our stock price.

Item 1B.Unresolved Staff Comments
None.

Item 2.Properties
Our corporate headquarters are located at an owned site in San Jose, California, in the United States of America. The locations of our headquarters by geographic segment are as follows:
AmericasEMEAAPJC
San Jose, California, USAAmsterdam, NetherlandsSingapore
In addition to our headquarters site, we own additional sites in the United States, which include facilities in the surrounding areas of San Jose, California; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; Richardson, Texas; and Lawrenceville, Georgia. We also own land for expansion in some of these locations. In addition, we lease office space in many U.S. locations.
Outside the United States our operations are conducted primarily in leased sites. Other significant sites (in addition to the two non-U.S. headquarters locations) are located in Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
We believe that our existing facilities, including both owned and leased, are in good condition and suitable for the conduct of our business.

Item 3.Legal Proceedings
For a description of pending legal proceedings in which we are involved, see Note 14 “Commitments and Contingencies - (f) Legal Proceedings” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is incorporated herein by reference.

Item 4.Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.

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PART II
Item 5.Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters, and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
(a)Cisco common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol CSCO. There were 36,408 registered stockholders as of September 3, 2021.
(b)None.
(c)Issuer purchases of equity securities (in millions, except per-share amounts):
PeriodTotal
Number of
Shares
Purchased
Average Price Paid
per Share 
Total Number of Shares
Purchased as Part of
Publicly Announced
Plans or Programs
Approximate Dollar Value of Shares
That May Yet Be Purchased
Under the Plans or Programs
May 2, 2021 to May 29, 2021$52.50 $8,477 
May 30, 2021 to June 26, 2021$53.50 $8,240 
June 27, 2021 to July 31, 2021$53.82 $7,940 
Total15 $53.30 15 
On September 13, 2001, we announced that our Board of Directors had authorized a stock repurchase program. As of July 31, 2021, the remaining authorized amount for stock repurchases under this program is approximately $7.9 billion with no termination date.
For the majority of restricted stock units granted, the number of shares issued on the date the restricted stock units vest is net of shares withheld to meet applicable tax withholding requirements. Although these withheld shares are not issued or considered common stock repurchases under our stock repurchase program and therefore are not included in the preceding table, they are treated as common stock repurchases in our financial statements as they reduce the number of shares that would have been issued upon vesting (see Note 15 to the Consolidated Financial Statements).

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Stock Performance Graph
The information contained in this Stock Performance Graph section shall not be deemed to be “soliciting material” or “filed” or incorporated by reference in future filings with the SEC, or subject to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), except to the extent that Cisco specifically incorporates it by reference into a document filed under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act.
The following graph shows a five-year comparison of the cumulative total stockholder return on Cisco common stock with the cumulative total returns of the S&P 500 Index, and the S&P Information Technology Index. The graph tracks the performance of a $100 investment in the Company’s common stock and in each of the indexes (with the reinvestment of all dividends) on the date specified. Stockholder returns over the indicated period are based on historical data and should not be considered indicative of future stockholder returns.
Comparison of 5-Year Cumulative Total Return Among Cisco Systems, Inc.,
the S&P 500 Index, and the S&P Information Technology Index
csco-20210731_g4.jpg
July 2016July 2017July 2018July 2019July 2020July 2021
Cisco Systems, Inc.$100.00 $106.89 $149.02 $203.37 $172.26 $212.11 
S&P 500$100.00 $116.13 $134.99 $147.86 $160.26 $222.51 
S&P Information Technology$100.00 $130.17 $168.84 $196.81 $254.67 $374.44 


Item 6.[Reserved]



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Item 7.Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report on Form 10-K, including this Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, contains forward-looking statements regarding future events and our future results that are subject to the safe harbors created under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). All statements other than statements of historical facts are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts, and projections about the industries in which we operate and the beliefs and assumptions of our management. Words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “targets,” “goals,” “projects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “momentum,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “continues,” “endeavors,” “strives,” “may,” variations of such words, and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements that refer to projections of our future financial performance, our anticipated growth and trends in our businesses, future responses to and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and other characterizations of future events or circumstances are forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned that these forward-looking statements are only predictions and are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions that are difficult to predict, including those under “Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors,” and elsewhere herein. Therefore, actual results may differ materially and adversely from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements for any reason.
OVERVIEW
Cisco designs and sells a broad range of technologies that power the Internet. We are integrating our platforms across networking, security, collaboration, applications and the cloud. These platforms are designed to help our customers manage more users, devices and things connecting to their networks. This will enable us to provide customers with a highly secure, intelligent platform for their digital business.
A summary of our results is as follows (in millions, except percentages and per-share amounts):
Three Months EndedYears Ended
July 31, 2021July 25, 2020VarianceJuly 31, 2021July 25, 2020Variance
Revenue$13,126 $12,154 %$49,818 $49,301 %
Gross margin percentage63.6 %63.2 %0.4 pts64.0 %64.3 %(0.3)pts
Research and development$1,713 $1,565 %$6,549 $6,347 %
Sales and marketing$2,448 $2,218 10 %$9,259 $9,169 %
General and administrative$521 $494 %$2,152 $1,925 12 %
Total R&D, sales and marketing, general and administrative$4,682 $4,277 %$17,960 $17,441 %
Total as a percentage of revenue35.7 %35.2 %0.5 pts36.1 %35.4 %0.7 pts 
Amortization of purchased intangible assets included in operating expenses$79 $33 139 %$215 $141 52 %
Restructuring and other charges included in operating expenses$8 $127 (94)%$886 $481 84 %
Operating income as a percentage of revenue27.2 %26.7 %0.5 pts25.8 %27.6 %(1.8)pts
Interest and other income (loss), net$160 $59 171 %$429 $350 23 %
Income tax percentage19.4 %20.3 %(0.9)pts20.1 %19.7 %0.4 pts
Net income$3,009 $2,636 14 %$10,591 $11,214 (6)%
Net income as a percentage of revenue22.9 %21.7 %1.2 pts21.3 %22.7 %(1.4)pts
Earnings per share—diluted$0.71 $0.62 15 %$2.50 $2.64 (5)%


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Fiscal 2021 Compared with Fiscal 2020
In fiscal 2021, we delivered growth in revenue in a very challenging environment. As customers have accelerated their digitization and cloud investments stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, we focused on executing and innovating to support and assist that transition. In the second half of fiscal 2021, we began to see customers prepare for office re-openings and hybrid work by increasing investments in their technologies. Total revenue increased by 1% compared with fiscal 2020. Our product revenue reflected growth in Security, partially offset by declines in Applications. Infrastructure Platforms was flat. We continued to make progress in the transition of our business model delivering increased software and subscriptions. We remain focused on accelerating innovation across our portfolio, and we believe that we have made continued progress on our strategic priorities. We continue to operate in a challenging macroeconomic and highly competitive environment. While the overall environment remains uncertain, we continue to aggressively invest in priority areas with the objective of driving profitable growth over the long term.
Within total revenue, product revenue was flat and service revenue increased by 4%. Fiscal 2021 had 53 weeks, compared with 52 weeks in fiscal 2020, thus our results for fiscal 2021 reflect an extra week compared with fiscal 2020. We estimate that a majority of our revenue increase was attributable to the extra week. In fiscal 2021, total software revenue was $15.0 billion across all product areas and service, an increase of 7%. Within total software revenue, subscription revenue increased 15%. Total gross margin decreased by 0.3 percentage points. Product gross margin decreased by 0.2 percentage points, due to lower productivity benefits largely driven by ongoing costs related to supply chain constraints. The effect of pricing erosion was moderate. We have partnered with several of our key suppliers utilizing our volume purchasing and extending supply coverage, including revising supplier arrangements, to address supply chain challenges. As a percentage of revenue, research and development, sales and marketing, and general and administrative expenses, collectively, increased by 0.7 percentage points. The total impact associated with the extra week on our cost of sales and operating expenses was approximately $150 million (excluding the impact of share-based compensation expense). Operating income as a percentage of revenue decreased by 1.8 percentage points. We incurred restructuring and other charges of $886 million, which resulted in a decrease of 6% in net income and a decrease of 5% in diluted earnings per share.
In terms of our geographic segments, revenue from the Americas decreased by $0.1 billion, EMEA revenue increased by $0.3 billion and revenue in our APJC segment increased by $0.4 billion. The “BRICM” countries experienced a product revenue decline of 6% in the aggregate, driven by a decrease in product revenue across each of the BRICM countries with the exception of India.
From a customer market standpoint, we experienced product revenue growth in the public sector and service provider markets partially offset by declines in the enterprise and commercial markets. As fiscal 2021 progressed, we saw improvement in business momentum in our customer markets, which we believe was related to an improving global macroeconomic environment.
From a product category perspective, total product revenue was flat year over year, driven by growth in revenue in Security of 7%, offset by a product revenue decline in Applications of 1%. Infrastructure Platforms was flat.
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Fourth Quarter Snapshot
For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, as compared with the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, total revenue increased by 8%. Within total revenue, product revenue increased by 10% and service revenue increased by 3%. With regard to our geographic segment performance, on a year-over-year basis, revenue in the Americas, EMEA and APJC increased by 8%, 6% and 13%, respectively. From a product category perspective, we experienced product revenue growth in Infrastructure Platforms and Security, offset by declines in Applications. Total gross margin increased by 0.4 percentage points, driven by productivity benefits, and to a lesser extent, favorable product mix, partially offset by pricing erosion. As a percentage of revenue, research and development, sales and marketing, and general and administrative expenses collectively increased by 0.5 percentage points. Operating income as a percentage of revenue increased by 0.5 percentage points. Net income increased by 14% and diluted earnings per share increased by 15%.
COVID-19 Pandemic Response Summary
During this extraordinary time, our priority has been supporting our employees, customers, partners and communities, while positioning Cisco for the future. The pandemic has driven organizations across the globe to digitize their operations and support remote workforces at a faster speed and greater scale than ever before. We remain focused on providing the technology and solutions our customers need to accelerate their digital organizations. The actions we have taken and are taking include:
Employees
Most of our global workforce is working from home.
Seamless transition to work from home with a long-standing flexible work policy, and we build the technologies that allow organizations to stay connected, secure and productive.
For the remainder who must be in the office to perform their roles, we are focused on their health and safety, and are taking all of the necessary precautions.
Customer and Partners
Provided a variety of free offers and trials for our Webex and security technologies as they dramatically shifted entire workforces to be remote.
Communities
Committed significant funds to support both global and local pandemic response efforts.
Provided technology and financial support for non-profits, first responders, and governments.
Donated personal protective equipment to hospital workers including N95 masks and face shields 3D-printed by Cisco volunteers around the world.
We are moving towards a hybrid work model, giving our employees the flexibility to work offsite or at onsite Cisco locations.
Strategy and Priorities
As our customers add billions of new connections to their enterprises, and as more applications move to a multicloud environment, the network becomes even more critical. Our customers are navigating change at an unprecedented pace and our mission is to shape the future of the Internet by inspiring new possibilities for them by helping transform their infrastructure, expand applications and analytics, address their security needs, and empower their teams. We believe that our customers are looking for outcomes that are data-driven and provide meaningful business value through automation, security, and analytics across private, hybrid, and multicloud environments. Our strategy is to help our customers connect, secure, and automate in order to accelerate their digital agility in a cloud-first world.
For a full discussion of our strategy and priorities, see “Item 1. Business.”
Other Key Financial Measures
The following is a summary of our other key financial measures for fiscal 2021 compared with fiscal 2020 (in millions):
Fiscal 2021Fiscal 2020
Cash and cash equivalents and investments$24,518$29,419
Cash provided by operating activities$15,454$15,426
Deferred revenue$22,164$20,446
Repurchases of common stock—stock repurchase program$2,902$2,619
Dividends paid$6,163$6,016
Inventories$1,559$1,282
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CRITICAL ACCOUNTING ESTIMATES
The preparation of financial statements and related disclosures in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States requires us to make judgments, assumptions and estimates that affect the amounts reported in the Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying notes. Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements describes the significant accounting policies and methods used in the preparation of the Consolidated Financial Statements. The accounting policies described below are significantly affected by critical accounting estimates. Such accounting policies require significant judgments, assumptions, and estimates used in the preparation of the Consolidated Financial Statements, and actual results could differ materially from the amounts reported based on these policies.
The inputs into certain of our judgments, assumptions and estimates considered the economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on our critical and significant accounting estimates. The COVID-19 pandemic did not have a material impact on our significant judgments, assumptions and estimates that are reflected in our results for fiscal 2021. These estimates include: goodwill and identified purchased intangible assets and income taxes, among other items. The actual results that we experience may differ materially from our estimates. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many of our estimates could require increased judgment and carry a higher degree of variability and volatility. As events continue to evolve our estimates may change materially in future periods.
Revenue Recognition
We enter into contracts with customers that can include various combinations of products and services which are generally distinct and accounted for as separate performance obligations. As a result, our contracts may contain multiple performance obligations. We determine whether arrangements are distinct based on whether the customer can benefit from the product or service on its own or together with other resources that are readily available and whether our commitment to transfer the product or service to the customer is separately identifiable from other obligations in the contract. We classify our hardware, perpetual software licenses, and SaaS as distinct performance obligations. Term software licenses represent multiple obligations, which include software licenses and software maintenance. In transactions where we deliver hardware or software, we are typically the principal and we record revenue and costs of goods sold on a gross basis.
We recognize revenue upon transfer of control of promised goods or services in a contract with a customer in an amount that reflects the consideration we expect to receive in exchange for those products or services. Transfer of control occurs once the customer has the contractual right to use the product, generally upon shipment, electronic delivery (or when the software is available for download by the customer), or once title and risk of loss has transferred to the customer. Transfer of control can also occur over time for software maintenance and services as the customer receives the benefit over the contract term. Our hardware and perpetual software licenses are distinct performance obligations where revenue is recognized upfront upon transfer of control. Term software licenses include multiple performance obligations where the term licenses are recognized upfront upon transfer of control, with the associated software maintenance revenue recognized ratably over the contract term as services and software updates are provided. SaaS arrangements do not include the right for the customer to take possession of the software during the term, and therefore have one distinct performance obligation which is satisfied over time with revenue recognized ratably over the contract term as the customer consumes the services. On our product sales, we record consideration from shipping and handling on a gross basis within net product sales. We record our revenue net of any associated sales taxes.
Revenue is allocated among these performance obligations in a manner that reflects the consideration that we expect to be entitled to for the promised goods or services based on standalone selling prices (SSP). SSP is estimated for each distinct performance obligation and judgment may be required in their determination. The best evidence of SSP is the observable price of a product or service when we sell the goods separately in similar circumstances and to similar customers. In instances where SSP is not directly observable, we determine SSP using information that may include market conditions and other observable inputs.
We assess relevant contractual terms in our customer contracts to determine the transaction price. We apply judgment in identifying contractual terms and determining the transaction price as we may be required to estimate variable consideration when determining the amount of revenue to recognize. Variable consideration includes potential contractual penalties and various rebate, cooperative marketing and other incentive programs that we offer to our distributors, channel partners and customers. When determining the amount of revenue to recognize, we estimate the expected usage of these programs, applying the expected value or most likely estimate and update the estimate at each reporting period as actual utilization becomes available. We also consider the customers' right of return in determining the transaction price, where applicable. If actual credits received by distributors under these programs were to deviate significantly from our estimates, which are based on historical experience, our revenue could be adversely affected.
See Note 3 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for more details.

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Loss Contingencies
We are subject to the possibility of various losses arising in the ordinary course of business. We consider the likelihood of the incurrence of a liability, as well as our ability to reasonably estimate the amount of loss, in determining loss contingencies. An estimated loss contingency is accrued when it is probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of loss can be reasonably estimated. We regularly evaluate information available to us to determine whether such accruals should be made or adjusted and whether new accruals are required.
Third parties, including customers, have in the past and may in the future assert claims or initiate litigation related to exclusive patent, copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights to technologies and related standards that are relevant to us. These assertions have increased over time as a result of our growth and the general increase in the pace of patent claims assertions, particularly in the United States. If any infringement or other intellectual property claim made against us by any third party is successful, or if we fail to develop non-infringing technology or license the proprietary rights on commercially reasonable terms and conditions, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
Goodwill and Purchased Intangible Asset Impairments
Our methodology for allocating the purchase price relating to purchase acquisitions is determined through established valuation techniques. Goodwill represents a residual value as of the acquisition date, which in most cases results in measuring goodwill as an excess of the purchase consideration transferred plus the fair value of any noncontrolling interest in the acquired company over the fair value of net assets acquired, including contingent consideration. We perform goodwill impairment tests on an annual basis in the fourth fiscal quarter and between annual tests in certain circumstances for each reporting unit. The assessment of fair value for goodwill and purchased intangible assets is based on factors that market participants would use in an orderly transaction in accordance with the new accounting guidance for the fair value measurement of nonfinancial assets.
In response to changes in industry and market conditions, we could be required to strategically realign our resources and consider restructuring, disposing of, or otherwise exiting businesses, which could result in an impairment of goodwill. There was no impairment of goodwill in fiscal 2021, 2020, and 2019. For the annual impairment testing in fiscal 2021, the excess of the fair value over the carrying value for each of our reporting units was $80.3 billion for the Americas, $73.0 billion for EMEA, and $33.2 billion for APJC.
During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, we performed a sensitivity analysis for goodwill impairment with respect to each of our respective reporting units and determined that a hypothetical 10% decline in the fair value of each reporting unit would not result in an impairment of goodwill for any reporting unit.
The fair value of acquired technology and patents, as well as acquired technology under development, is determined at acquisition date primarily using the income approach, which discounts expected future cash flows to present value. The discount rates used in the present value calculations are typically derived from a weighted-average cost of capital analysis and then adjusted to reflect risks inherent in the development lifecycle as appropriate. We consider the pricing model for products related to these acquisitions to be standard within the high-technology communications industry, and the applicable discount rates represent the rates that market participants would use for valuation of such intangible assets.
We make judgments about the recoverability of purchased intangible assets with finite lives whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that an impairment may exist. Recoverability of purchased intangible assets with finite lives is measured by comparing the carrying amount of the asset to the future undiscounted cash flows the asset is expected to generate. We review indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment annually or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the asset might be impaired. If the asset is considered to be impaired, the amount of any impairment is measured as the difference between the carrying value and the fair value of the impaired asset. Assumptions and estimates about future values and remaining useful lives of our purchased intangible assets are complex and subjective. They can be affected by a variety of factors, including external factors such as industry and economic trends, and internal factors such as changes in our business strategy and our internal forecasts. Our ongoing consideration of all the factors described previously could result in impairment charges in the future, which could adversely affect our net income. 
Income Taxes
We are subject to income taxes in the United States and numerous foreign jurisdictions. Our effective tax rates differ from the statutory rate, primarily due to the tax impact of state taxes, foreign operations, R&D tax credits, foreign-derived intangible income deductions, global intangible low-taxed income, tax audit settlements, nondeductible compensation, international realignments, and transfer pricing adjustments. Our effective tax rate was 20.1%, 19.7%, and 20.2% in fiscal 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively.
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Significant judgment is required in evaluating our uncertain tax positions and determining our provision for income taxes. Although we believe our reserves are reasonable, no assurance can be given that the final tax outcome of these matters will not be different from that which is reflected in our historical income tax provisions and accruals. We adjust these reserves in light of changing facts and circumstances, such as the closing of a tax audit or the refinement of an estimate. To the extent that the final tax outcome of these matters is different than the amounts recorded, such differences will impact the provision for income taxes in the period in which such determination is made. The provision for income taxes includes the impact of reserve provisions and changes to reserves that are considered appropriate, as well as the related net interest and penalties.
Significant judgment is also required in determining any valuation allowance recorded against deferred tax assets. In assessing the need for a valuation allowance, we consider all available evidence, including past operating results, estimates of future taxable income, and the feasibility of tax planning strategies. In the event that we change our determination as to the amount of deferred tax assets that can be realized, we will adjust our valuation allowance with a corresponding impact to the provision for income taxes in the period in which such determination is made.
Our provision for income taxes is subject to volatility and could be adversely impacted by earnings being lower than anticipated in countries that have lower tax rates and higher than anticipated in countries that have higher tax rates; by changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities; by changes to foreign-derived intangible income deduction, global intangible low-tax income and base erosion and anti-abuse tax laws, regulations, or interpretations thereof; by expiration of or lapses in tax incentives; by transfer pricing adjustments, including the effect of acquisitions on our legal structure; by tax effects of nondeductible compensation; by tax costs related to intercompany realignments; by changes in accounting principles; or by changes in tax laws and regulations, treaties, or interpretations thereof, including changes to the taxation of earnings of our foreign subsidiaries, the deductibility of expenses attributable to foreign income, and the foreign tax credit rules. Significant judgment is required to determine the recognition and measurement attributes prescribed in the accounting guidance for uncertainty in income taxes. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international association comprised of 38 countries, including the United States, has made changes and is contemplating additional changes to numerous long-standing tax principles. There can be no assurance that these changes and any contemplated changes if finalized, once adopted by countries, will not have an adverse impact on our provision for income taxes. As a result of certain of our ongoing employment and capital investment actions and commitments, our income in certain countries was subject to reduced tax rates. Our failure to meet these commitments could adversely impact our provision for income taxes. In addition, we are subject to the continuous examination of our income tax returns by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other tax authorities. We regularly assess the likelihood of adverse outcomes resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of our provision for income taxes. There can be no assurance that the outcomes from these continuous examinations will not have an adverse impact on our operating results and financial condition.

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RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
A discussion regarding our financial condition and results of operations for fiscal 2021 compared to fiscal 2020 is presented below. A discussion regarding our financial condition and results of operations for fiscal 2020 compared to fiscal 2019 can be found under Item 7 in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended July 25, 2020, filed with the SEC on September 3, 2020.
Revenue
The following table presents the breakdown of revenue between product and service (in millions, except percentages):
Years Ended2021 vs. 2020
July 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019Variance in DollarsVariance in Percent
Revenue:
Product$36,014 $35,978 $39,005 $36 — %
Percentage of revenue72.3 %73.0 %75.1 %  
Service13,804 13,323 12,899 481 %
Percentage of revenue27.7 %27.0 %24.9 %  
Total$49,818 $49,301 $51,904 $517 %
We manage our business primarily on a geographic basis, organized into three geographic segments. Our revenue, which includes product and service for each segment, is summarized in the following table (in millions, except percentages):
Years Ended2021 vs. 2020
July 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019Variance in DollarsVariance in Percent
Revenue:    
Americas$29,161 $29,291 $30,927 $(130)— %
Percentage of revenue58.5 %59.4 %59.6 %  
EMEA12,951 12,659 13,100 292 %
Percentage of revenue26.0 %25.7 %25.2 %  
APJC7,706 7,352 7,877 354 %
Percentage of revenue15.5 %14.9 %15.2 %  
Total$49,818 $49,301 $51,904 $517 %
Amounts may not sum and percentages may not recalculate due to rounding.
Total revenue in fiscal 2021 increased by 1% compared with fiscal 2020. Product revenue was flat and service revenue increased by 4%. Our total revenue reflected growth in EMEA and APJC. Americas was flat. Product revenue for the emerging countries of BRICM, in the aggregate, experienced a 6% product revenue decline, with decreases in each of these countries with the exception of India.
In addition to the impact of macroeconomic factors, including the IT spending environment and the level of spending by government entities, revenue by segment in a particular period may be significantly impacted by several factors related to revenue recognition, including the complexity of transactions such as multiple performance obligations; the mix of financing arrangements provided to channel partners and customers; and final acceptance of the product, system, or solution, among other factors. In addition, certain customers tend to make large and sporadic purchases, and the revenue related to these transactions may also be affected by the timing of revenue recognition, which in turn would impact the revenue of the relevant segment.

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Product Revenue by Segment
The following table presents the breakdown of product revenue by segment (in millions, except percentages):
Years Ended2021 vs. 2020
July 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019Variance in DollarsVariance in Percent
Product revenue:     
Americas$20,688 $21,006 $22,754 $(318)(2)%
Percentage of product revenue57.5 %58.4 %58.3 %  
EMEA9,805 9,647 10,246 158 %
Percentage of product revenue27.2 %26.8 %26.3 %  
APJC5,521 5,326 6,005 195 %
Percentage of product revenue15.3 %14.8 %15.4 %  
Total$36,014 $35,978 $39,005 $36 — %
Amounts may not sum and percentages may not recalculate due to rounding.
Americas
Product revenue in the Americas segment decreased by 2%. The product revenue decrease was driven by declines in the enterprise and commercial markets, partially offset by growth in the public sector and service provider markets. From a country perspective, product revenue decreased by 1% in the United States, 18% in Mexico, and 9% in Brazil, partially offset by a product revenue increase of 4% in Canada.
EMEA
The increase in product revenue in the EMEA segment of 2% was driven by growth in the service provider and public sector markets, partially offset by declines in the commercial and enterprise markets. Product revenue from emerging countries within EMEA decreased by 7%, and product revenue for the remainder of the EMEA segment, which primarily consists of countries in Western Europe, increased by 4%. From a country perspective, product revenue increased by 4% in Germany, partially offset by declines in the United Kingdom and France by 1% and 2%, respectively.
APJC
Product revenue in the APJC segment increased by 4%, driven by growth in the public sector, service provider and enterprise markets, partially offset by declines in the commercial market. From a country perspective, product revenue increased in Japan, Australia and India by 11%, 6% and 3%, respectively, partially offset by a decline of 4% in China.

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Product Revenue by Category
In addition to the primary view on a geographic basis, we also prepare financial information related to product categories and customer markets for various purposes. We report our product revenue in the following categories: Infrastructure Platforms, Applications, Security, and Other Products.
The following table presents product revenue by category (in millions, except percentages):
Years Ended2021 vs. 2020
July 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019Variance in DollarsVariance in Percent
Product revenue:     
Infrastructure Platforms$27,109 $27,219 $30,184 $(110)— %
Applications5,504 5,568 5,803 (64)(1)%
Security3,382 3,158 2,822 224 %
Other Products19 33 196 (14)(43)%
Total$36,014 $35,978 $39,005 $36 — %
Amounts may not sum and percentages may not recalculate due to rounding. Prior period amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current period’s presentation.
Infrastructure Platforms
The Infrastructure Platforms product category represents our core networking offerings related to switching, routing, wireless, and the data center. Infrastructure Platforms revenue was flat compared to fiscal 2020, with growth in routing and wireless, offset by declines in switching and data center. This was the product area most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic environment in the first half of fiscal 2021. Switching revenue declined in both campus switching and data center switching, although we had strong revenue growth in our Catalyst 9000 Series, Meraki switching offerings and Nexus 9000 Series. We experienced an increase in sales of routing products, with growth primarily in the service provider market. Wireless had strong growth driven by our Meraki and WiFi-6 products. Revenue from data center declined driven by continued market contraction impacting primarily our servers products.
Applications
The Applications product category includes our collaboration offerings (unified communications, Cisco TelePresence and conferencing) as well as IoT and AppDynamics analytics software offerings. Revenue in our Applications product category decreased by 1%, or $64 million, with a decline in Unified Communications and Cisco TelePresence partially offset by double digit growth in IoT software offerings and growth in Webex.
Security
Revenue in our Security product category increased 7%, or $224 million. Revenue from our cloud security portfolio reflected strong double-digit growth and continued momentum with our Duo and Umbrella offerings.

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Service Revenue by Segment
The following table presents the breakdown of service revenue by segment (in millions, except percentages):
Years Ended2021 vs. 2020
July 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019Variance in DollarsVariance in Percent
Service revenue:     
Americas$8,472 $8,285 $8,173 $187 %
Percentage of service revenue61.4 %62.2 %63.4 %
EMEA3,146 3,012 2,854 134 %
Percentage of service revenue22.8 %22.6 %22.1 %
APJC2,186 2,026 1,872 160 %
Percentage of service revenue15.8 %15.2 %14.5 %
Total$13,804 $13,323 $12,899 $481 %
Amounts may not sum and percentages may not recalculate due to rounding.
Service revenue increased 4%, driven by growth in our maintenance business and solution support offerings. Service revenue increased across all geographic segments. Service revenue benefited from the extra week in fiscal 2021.

Gross Margin
The following table presents the gross margin for products and services (in millions, except percentages):
AMOUNTPERCENTAGE
Years EndedJuly 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019July 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019
Gross margin:
Product$22,714 $22,779 $24,142 63.1 %63.3 %61.9 %
Service9,180 8,904 8,524 66.5 %66.8 %66.1 %
Total$31,894 $31,683 $32,666 64.0 %64.3 %62.9 %
Product Gross Margin
The following table summarizes the key factors that contributed to the change in product gross margin percentage from fiscal 2020 to fiscal 2021:
Product Gross Margin Percentage
Fiscal 202063.3 %
Productivity (1)
0.8 %
Product pricing(1.2)%
Mix of products sold0.6 %
Legal and indemnification charge(0.1)%
Others(0.3)%
Fiscal 202163.1 %
(1) Productivity includes overall manufacturing-related costs, such as component costs, warranty expense, provision for inventory, freight, logistics, shipment volume, and other items not categorized elsewhere.
Product gross margin decreased by 0.2 percentage points driven by pricing erosion, partially offset by favorable product mix and lower productivity benefits. The effect of pricing erosion was moderate driven by typical market factors and impacted each of our geographic segments. Productivity improvements were adversely impacted by ongoing costs related to supply chain constraints. The favorable mix was driven by changes in the proportion of products sold from each of our product categories.
During fiscal 2021, we continued to manage through supply chain challenges seen industry wide due to component shortages, caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges resulted in increased costs (i.e. component costs, broker fees,
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expedited freight and overtime) which had a negative impact on product gross margin, and extended lead times to us and our customers. We have partnered with several of our key suppliers utilizing our volume purchasing and extending supply coverage, including revising supplier arrangements, to address supply chain challenges. We believe these actions will enable us to optimize our access to critical components, including semiconductors. We expect these supply chain challenges to continue through at least the first half of fiscal 2022 and potentially into the second half of fiscal 2022.
Productivity improvements were driven by memory cost savings and other cost reductions including value engineering efforts (e.g. component redesign, board configuration, test processes and transformation processes) and continued operational efficiency in manufacturing operations.
Service Gross Margin
Our service gross margin percentage decreased by 0.3 percentage points primarily due to higher headcount-related and delivery costs, partially offset by higher sales volume and to a lesser extent, favorable mix of service offerings.
Our service gross margin normally experiences some fluctuations due to various factors such as the timing of contract initiations in our renewals, our strategic investments in headcount, and the resources we deploy to support the overall service business. Other factors include the mix of service offerings, as the gross margin from our advanced services is typically lower than the gross margin from technical support services.
Gross Margin by Segment
The following table presents the total gross margin for each segment (in millions, except percentages):

AMOUNTPERCENTAGE
Years EndedJuly 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019July 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019
Gross margin:
Americas$19,499 $19,547 $20,338  66.9 %66.7 %65.8 %
EMEA8,466 8,304 8,457  65.4 %65.6 %64.6 %
APJC4,949 4,688 4,683  64.2 %63.8 %59.5 %
Segment total32,914 32,538 33,479  66.1 %66.0 %64.5 %
Unallocated corporate items (1)
(1,020)(855)(813)
Total$31,894 $31,683 $32,666  64.0 %64.3 %62.9 %
(1) The unallocated corporate items include the effects of amortization and impairments of acquisition-related intangible assets, share-based compensation expense, significant litigation settlements and other contingencies, charges related to asset impairments and restructurings, and certain other charges. We do not allocate these items to the gross margin for each segment because management does not include such information in measuring the performance of the operating segments.
Amounts may not sum and percentages may not recalculate due to rounding.
We experienced a gross margin percentage increase in our Americas segment due to favorable product mix and productivity improvements, partially offset by pricing erosion.
Gross margin in our EMEA segment decreased due to pricing erosion, partially offset by productivity improvements and, to a lesser extent, favorable product mix. Lower service gross margin also contributed to the decrease in the gross margin in this geographic segment.
The APJC segment gross margin percentage increase was due to productivity improvements and favorable product mix, partially offset by pricing erosion.
The gross margin percentage for a particular segment may fluctuate, and period-to-period changes in such percentages may or may not be indicative of a trend for that segment.

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Research and Development (“R&D”), Sales and Marketing, and General and Administrative (“G&A”) Expenses
R&D, sales and marketing, and G&A expenses are summarized in the following table (in millions, except percentages):
Years Ended2021 vs. 2020
July 31, 2021July 25, 2020July 27, 2019Variance in DollarsVariance in Percent
Research and development$6,549 $6,347 $6,577 $202 %
Percentage of revenue13.1 %12.9 %12.7 %
Sales and marketing9,259 9,169 9,571 90 %
Percentage of revenue18.6 %18.6 %18.4 %
General and administrative2,152 1,925 1,827 227 12 %
Percentage of revenue4.3 %3.9 %3.5 %
Total$17,960 $17,441 $17,975 $519 %
Percentage of revenue36.1 %35.4 %34.6 %