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Cisco lands Juniper's Yen

Data center exec bolts to rival shortly after introducing QFabric architecture

So I get back to my room from dinner at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, site of Interop 2011, when this is waiting in my inbox: Technology Industry Pioneer David Yen to Lead Cisco Unified Computing and Nexus Server Access Switching Business.

Suddenly, my whole agenda for Interop has been reprioritized. This will be topic #1 at the show, without a doubt. Why'd he leave Juniper? Why go to Cisco with its current challenges? What does this mean for QFabric? Was there something wrong with the strategy and/or product?

Was it due to Juniper's formation of the Platform Systems Group, which passed over Yen as its head? All Things Digital has the Juniper memo on that here

Or was this simply an opportunity to good for Yen to pass up? The Unified Computing System seems to be gathering momentum. And he succeeds three Cisco legends in Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain and Luca Cafiero, who will now be advisors to Cisco and CEO John Chambers.

We will accumulate more information on this this week, from Interop. For now, here's the Cisco press release:

SAN JOSE, Calif. - May 9, 2011 - Cisco today announced the appointment of David Yen as the leader of the Server Access and Virtualization Technology Group (SAVTG), the home of Cisco's phenomenally successful Unified Computing System and Nexus server access data center switching portfolio.

As general manager and senior vice president for SAVTG, David Yen will assume responsibility for continuing the success of this fast-growth business. Yen will report to the co-leaders of Cisco's engineering organization, Senior Vice Presidents Padmasree Warrior and Pankaj Patel.

Cisco's Unified Computing System and the Nexus family of data center switches are two of Cisco's fastest growing product families. Sales of the Nexus 5000 grew 56% year over year in the second quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2011. Nexus 2000 revenues grew 150%.

In the same period, Cisco reached almost 4,000 customers for its Unified Computing System, just eighteen months since the first generation of the platform shipped. As of Cisco's fiscal year second quarter 2011, Cisco's Unified Computing System had an annualized revenue run rate of $650M.

David Yen was most recently executive vice president and general manager of Juniper Network's Fabric and Switching Business Group, where he led Juniper's multiyear data center network research and development initiative, known as Qfabric.

David previously spent 20 years at Sun Microsystems, where he led development of Sun's first-and-second-generation multi-CPU servers, which helped transform Sun from a workstation company to a leading enterprise server company. After taking over Sun's microelectronics group in 2001, he turned around Sun's SPARC business and developed it into a multi-billion dollar business.

David takes over leadership of Cisco's Server Access Virtualization Group (SAVG) from Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain and Luca Cafiero, three of the founders of Nuova Systems, whose acquisition by Cisco in 2008 led to the creation of SAVTG.

After 18 years of association with Cisco, during which time they have developed a strong legacy of innovation and market disruption, Mario, Luca and Prem have decided to transition out of their current roles to supporting Cisco in an advisory capacity. They will continue as senior technical advisors to Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and support a smooth transition as David Yen moves into his new role.

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