Chambers, who is still executive chairman, was an outspoken critic of the U.S. tax policy, which would require Cisco to pay roughly 35 percent to bring that cash home. Instead, he spent $5 billion on U.K. software company NDS, $3.3 billion on Norway's Tandberg and $475 million on Israeli company Intucell.
The day after the ParStream deal, Cisco said it is spending $452.5 million for Lancope, a provider of network security designed to fend off attacks that come through smartphones and other devices. It's the company's second-priciest deal this year, behind cloud security company OpenDNS, which Cisco acquired for $635 million.
Salvagno said he's in the process of reorganizing the 45-person corporate development team and should have a new plan in place by the end of the year, "making sure we have the majority of our resources applied to areas Cisco considers its top priorities."
Read MoreCisco forms joint venture with Chinese company
Those include the Internet of Things, network security and big data analytics.
In addition to acquisitions, Salvagno is pouring resources into strategic investments, working alongside venture capitalists and scouring the start-up world to make sure the company isn't missing early signs of technology transformations.
We "invest based on where we see markets going and look to markets outside and perhaps in front of where Cisco's traditional businesses are today," he said.