Former top Cisco executive becomes new Chairman of enterprise mobility vendor Agito Networks

Agito Network Names New Chairman David Leonard

David Leonard
Along with announcing its latest round of funding and a new international strategic investor today - June 30th, Agito Networks also announced a new executive chairman of its Board of Directors. Network World readers will recognize the name of Agito’s new appointee. The latest member of Agito’s Board of Directors is David Leonard, former vice president and general manager of the Cisco Wireless Networking Business Unit and Desktop Switching Business Unit.

While at Cisco, Mr. Leonard helped grow Cisco’s wireless and Ethernet product lines to the number one industry ranking in their respective markets. Mr. Leonard has been gone from Cisco for six months, and we caught up with him recently to see what he’s been up to. When and how did you arrive at Cisco? I joined Cisco in October 1995 through Cisco’s acquisition of Grand Junction Networks. At Grand Junction, I served as an engineering leader charged with developing their first 100 mbs Ethernet switch.

What was your first job at Cisco, when did you get promoted to Cisco VP/GM, and what were your jobs in between? My first job at Cisco was as the Director of Engineering, as I continued to lead the team developing the stackable 10/100 Ehternet switching product line. I became the VP of Engineering for the Wireless Networking Business Unit in 2000. I was later promoted to VP/GM of the Wireless Network BU in 2005. Then, I moved over and became the VP/GM of the Desktop Switching Business Unit in October 2005, the position I had through January 2008.
How would you describe your experience at Cisco? Cisco was an excellent experience for me. It is an invaluable and deeply satisfying experience to achieve the kind of market success that we did, in both the Ethernet Switch and Wireless market places. Cisco is the kind of company that demands high quality solutions that can scale to massive volumes very quickly.
When and why did you leave Cisco and what have you been doing since leaving? I left Cisco in January 2008 so that I could start a new venture that is focused on energy conservation. Specifically it has to do with solid state lighting control. My company will be leading the way by making a control and power solution that will dramatically increase the value proposition for LED lighting and revolutionize commercial lighting. We are very close to closing our first round of funding.
When and how did you hear about Agito Networks? I had been a personal advisor to Agito’s two founders even before they got funding in 2006 as they were friends and former co-workers of mine at Cisco.
Why were you interested in continuing to follow Agito? With my background, I knew I could provide some guidance and experience for the company, as well as help make introductions to some key accounts and partnerships in the industry. I have been interested in making WiFi technology a key part of the voice infrastructure for the enterprise for many years now. Now, with the products that Agito is bringing to the market, this can become a reality. The team at Agito and what they have been able to accomplish has impressed me. With all the talk of FMC over the years from carriers and enterprise providers alike, these Agito guys that I knew while at Cisco have developed the industry’s only eFMC solution that is enterprise grade. This is important because high performance and highly available voice, as well as native integration into directory stores, is critical for today’s enterprise customers. The team at Agito has developed a solution that collects and uses an extreme amount of detail from the wireless networks around mobile users, and ensures that users are on whatever network makes the most sense. It’s this differentiation in the market that has led to numerous customer wins recently, and it’s why partners like Cisco are selecting Agito to partner with over other solutions.
How did you get to become Executive Chairman of Agito’s Board? I have been interested in helping Agito since it was founded. Now that I am not at Cisco, I am free to take on this kind of role for the company. When I was asked by the other board members to do this, I welcomed the opportunity.
How do you think you can help Agito? My experience in bringing wireless and wired networking products to market should be helpful to Agito. I can also help by advising on operational issues, and in recruiting top talent to their already impressive staff.
From your experience and what you’ve seen, what do you think are the prospects for Agito? I am very excited about Agito’s prospects. The Agito solution will make the enterprise cell phone an even better productivity tool. Agito can become a standard capability for most enterprises.
What does Agito need to do to succeed in this tough market? Agito needs to continue developing a deep understanding of their customers’ needs. The current solution is just the beginning. The Agito system needs to continue to increase the value it brings to the telecommunication infrastructure of a company. Key to Agito’s success will be continuing to work hard to make this solution even more valuable, while establishing great customer and partner relationships.
To change subjects here at the end, David, what can you tell us about your current venture? The company is called Redwood Systems. We are a team of networking and lighting professionals that will make LED lighting an incredibly valuable asset to the commercial buildings of the future. Our passion is for energy conservation through intelligent control. We will make workplaces more productive for employees while slashing the use of electricity for lighting by a factor of five.
Why do YOU think so many top executives of Cisco are leaving?
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