Industry end state really isn't clear
This decade we have seen a pendulum swing from traditional on-premises Enterprise gear, from traditional Enterprise vendors, through traditional Enterprise channels, toward cloud services, based on the same core technologies as the Enterprise gear but brutally disintermediating both the box builders and the sales channels.
But what is the end state Cisco should invest towards? It is fundamentally an Enterprise selling play, its entire existence part of what I just said cloud is "brutally disintermediating". So does Cisco move toward being a technology provider (like Intel or Broadcom or Samsung), toward owning a software ecosystem (like Microsoft excluding Azure), or toward wrapping services around the cloud offerings of others? Or does Cisco double down on Enterprise, assuming there will be enough market left when the pendulum stops swinging to support itself in the style to which it is accustomed?
There are two technology inflection points coming which Cisco could "bet the company" on. One is user space access to shared byte addressable storage class memory -- which is a really good reason not to commit to the past by buying one of today's storage leaders who won't be able to evolve through this transition. The other, which I can't articulate as well, is an evolution of networking away from traditional learning-and-moving-packets (I can sit at my PC and "ping" any location in the world -- default permit) toward planned connections (I install the gmail app on my smartphone, and the app has credentials which my service provider recognizes, allowing the app to open a connection to a gmail server -- which would otherwise be default deny). Look at what Fastly is doing at the CDN edge, or what Cisco ACI or VMware NSX or Calico are doing in the data center.
The problem with both of these is they will require changes to the application -- a heresy in the Enterprise world -- and there is no certainty that a large investment will result in a critical mass of adoption by application writers (or at least those who provide storage and network services for containers or VMs). So a Cisco should probably sit back and wait for someone to win, then pay the huge premium to buy them, rather than trying to develop something revolutionary in house (or even in a captive spin-out-spin-in model as they did with Insieme).
Will be interesting to watch all this over the next 20 years.