On Monday, Cisco's new CEO Chuck Robbins announced that he is reorganizing the company's massive engineering unit into four new teams to match with the areas he sees as most critical.
The new units are:
- Cloud Services & Platforms
- Applications & IoT
All of the unit leaders will report directly to Robbins.
It's another reorg for engineering, which employs about 25,000 people, after a huge one was completed under John Chambers and engineering leader leader Pankaj Patel in the fall of 2014. That reorg was part of the company's 8,000-job layoff that year.
For the most part, Robbins is shuffling around current execs from the new slate he chose when he took over the CEO job last summer.
But there are a couple of exceptions.
Kelly Ahuja, an 18-year Cisco veteran most recently running Cisco's service provider business, is out. Yvette Kanouff will take over "an expanded Service Provider organization" as part of the networking organization reporting, for the moment to Patel.
Cisco's SP unit has been a sore spot for years and Robbins has already been been dismantling it. One of his first acts was to divest John Chambers $6 billion acquisition of set-top box Scientific-Atlanta. Cisco sold it for $600 million.
Networking will continue to report to Patel for the time being, but Patel already announced in January that he's leaving Cisco in the second half of the year. Patel had a stellar career under former CEO John Chambers. So looks like that mostimportant slot as leader of networking will be up for grabs in a few months.
David Goeckeler will continue to lead Cisco's Security business, and will now report directly to Chuck Robbins.
Rowan Trollope will continue to lead IoT & Applications and will now report directly to Chuck Robbins. Robbins sees IoT as one of Cisco's biggest and most promising new markets.
Zorawar "Biri" Singh, one of Robbin's new hires will lead the newly formed Cloud Services & Platforms organization.
Singh previously hailed from HP where, some years ago, he tried to help HP build a cloud business. That didn't go well. He left HP in around 2013 and last year HP exited the cloud market altogether and is now a reseller for Microsoft Azure.
Liz Centoni will be promoted to SVP and will lead the Computing Systems Product Group
One business unit is still a powerful island
Singh is being asked to "work closely with the Insieme leaders." (See the email bel0w.)
Insieme is the unit in charge of Cisco's most important networking product, its flagship Nexus 9000 switch and its "software defined networking" software.
This is the product that allows Cisco to compete with the SDN trend that threatens to eat its lunch.
Interestingly, a lot of people inside the company say that the Insieme unit, which is run by legendary engineers Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, and Luca Cafiero, still basically reports to John Chambers, their long-time former CEO and the man that set up the unusual "spin-in" system that funneled billions to their projects (and millions to their pockets). Chambers is still Cisco's executive chairman, and he reports to CEO Robbins.
We heard that Mazzola was expected to announce his retirement in January as well, but he hasn't. Mazzola, Jain and Cafiera still lead Insieme.
However, Robbins says he's not likely to do any more "spin-ins."
Here's the email
From: Chuck Robbins
Date: Monday, March 21, 2016 1:57 PM
Subject: Next Chapter of Engineering
Over the past several months, I have met with customers and country leaders around the world, and during our conversations, we have discussed their desire to partner with Cisco as they embrace digital transformation. Companies, cities, and countries are facing an unprecedented level of change, from macroeconomic uncertainty to shifting geopolitical dynamics, and technology holds the promise to help them truly get ahead. Many business leaders have talked consistently about the need to stay agile and maintain lower operating costs, while driving innovation to ensure their success. Country leaders have talked with me about the need to drive job growth, innovation in their economies and grow overall GDP. Each customer and country leader has also emphasized that they are excited about technology driving their priorities, but they’ve also made it very clear that security is their absolute number one priority as they embrace digital.
Coming out of these conversations, it has become very clear that we must be organized to best align to our customers’ needs within this ever-changing environment. Our customers’ priorities have always been core to all we do at Cisco, and that is true now more than ever.
To that end, Pankaj and I have been working through the evolution of our Engineering organization, and today we are excited to announce the next wave.
As I’ve said, we must continue to accelerate our longstanding market leadership in networking while also investing in other, equally critical, next-generation areas that will define our future. Today we are making changes to how we organize Engineering to better reflect our strategic priorities and align around four key areas: Networking and Market Segments, Cloud Services and Platforms, IoT and Applications, and Security.
The leaders of these four key growth areas will report to me and be members of the ELT, which underscores the strategic importance of these areas for Cisco, and brings our product and technology leaders to the executive team. This will allow us to accelerate our product and solution development and make quick decisions. This will also enable our Sales, Services, Marketing, and Engineering leaders to work more closely than ever before to address our customers’ priorities and drive our strategies for growth moving forward.
Networking, Market Segments and Solutions
Pankaj has agreed to lead this team and continue to serve on the ELT as he prepares for his transition at the end of the fiscal year. As Cisco and our customers embrace the digital revolution, the network has never been more relevant or more critical.
The Networking, Market Segments and Solutions organization will include Core Software Group (CSG), Core Hardware Group (CHG) as well as the Enterprise and Service Provider segments and Technology & Architecture Office. In order to accelerate our roadmap and best meet the needs of our customers, we are also moving Network Orchestration (APIC EM) and Network Management teams to CSG. Pankaj and I have asked Yvette Kanouff to lead an expanded Service Provider organization that combines the SP segment, SP cloud, Mobility & SPVSS efforts. I’d like to express my deep gratitude to Kelly Ahuja for his 18 years of leadership in Service Provider. Our customers have deep respect for Kelly’s expertise, and he has been critical to our success. I know you’ll join me in wishing him the best as he takes the next steps in his career journey.
Cloud Services and Platforms
In the digital world, our customers’ and partners’ evolution of their hybrid cloud and digitization strategies is also extremely important. Zorawar Biri Singh will continue in his role as CTO, focused on driving our technology strategy as well as coordinating architecture and portfolio alignment with the ELT.
Additionally, I have asked Biri to lead our efforts around Next-Generation Data Center strategy, working closely with the Insieme leaders as well as the networking group. To further accelerate our success in this area, the Computing Systems Product Group (CSPG) will move to this team and will be led by Senior Vice President, Liz Centoni, with a mandate to grow the segment and accelerate our roadmap.
Data and data fabrics are also a vital asset in the future of cloud first, hybrid IT environments. We must enable our customers with intelligent, analytics software platforms that take real time insights from their networks through their end-user experiences to drive actionable business outcomes. Accordingly, we are organizing our data and analytics solutions to be led by Biri, and as part of this, Mala Anand, SVP of the Analytics and Automation business unit, will join Biri’s team.
As cloud applications/services evolve to loosely-coupled microservices, API-enabled, and container-enabled frameworks, we are evolving the Cisco Intercloud mission to drive a broader solution ecosystem for customer and partner developers. Going forward, Biri will lead the Cisco Intercloud team and drive a unified strategy and execution around Cisco cloud services and developer innovations.
Lastly, as part of our focus on providing a richer, network-enabled developer ecosystem for our developers and CCIE community, Susie Wee and the DevNet team will also join Biri’s team.
As I’ve noted, security is our customers’ number one priority, but it is also the business enabler for digitization. Putting the right security architecture in place is critical for both Cisco and our customers. As the leader of our Security business for the past several years, David Goeckeler has delivered exceptional results and defined a vision and strategy that will no doubt strengthen our leadership in this market. Under David’s leadership, we have rapidly transitioned the business model to software and recurring revenue. David will continue to lead the Security business, and he also joins the ELT reporting directly to me.
IoT and Applications
The Internet of Things is essential to our digitization strategy, and is a key pillar of growth for our future. With our recent acquisition of Jasper, Cisco is positioned to lead our customers as they embrace IoT in their core businesses. Rowan Trollope will join the ELT with the IoT and Collaboration businesses reporting to him and the charter to drive growth in new application categories. Rowan will build upon the Collaboration team’s incredible success – under his leadership, the team has redesigned and delivered outstanding and award-winning products across the entire technology portfolio, simplified the product line, taken share from competitors in all categories and returned the business to growth. To capitalize on mobile and cloud opportunities, the team also built a collaboration cloud platform and its first application, Cisco Spark.
For more information about these changes, please visit the CEC homepage .
Please join me in congratulating Liz, Yvette and Biri on their new roles, and Rowan and David for joining the ELT. I’m honored to have them as part of the team. I also appreciate Pankaj’s partnership and continued support as we work through this next wave of change.
Cisco is deeply focused on innovation, and we are continuing to make the changes needed to accelerate our growth. As a team, we will continue to evolve to deliver against our customers’ needs. This will ensure we will be the most strategic partner to our customers in their transition to digital. I’m incredibly proud of our Engineering team, and excited about the innovation I know they will deliver to ensure our continued – and future – leadership in the market. The opportunity ahead of us is ours to win.