Key Cisco defections in data center, OpenStack

Company loses two high-profile people to VMware, HP

Cisco lost two vital soldiers in its data center and OpenStack platoons to competitors this week. Dom Delfino, vice president of worldwide system engineering for data center and virtualization, has jumped to SDN rival VMware while Kyle Mestery, principal engineer in Cisco’s Office of the Cloud CTO, will soon surface at HP.

Delfino had been at Cisco for 14 years. He was leading the data center and virtualization technology strategy and pre-sales systems engineering organization for Cisco globally. Sources say he was responsible for bridging the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) policy networking and Unified Computing System (UCS) compute platforms when he left.

Delfino had considerable data center success at Cisco. He brought to market the MDS 9000 series of storage networking products “gaining better than 50% Director market share in less than 36 months forcing the consolidation of Brocade, McData, Inrange, CNT, Nishan and Sanera into one company,” according to his LinkedIn profile.

Delfino also brought the Nexus 7000, 5000, 2000 and 1000v switches to market, achieving $1 billion in revenue in 18 months, and was also responsible for helping Cisco's UCS achieve a $2 billion – now a $3 billion -- annual run rate.

VMware confirmed that Delfino will start Monday, Sept. 22. His exact title isn’t known – sources say he’ll be vice president of systems engineering – but he’ll be responsible for running VMware's systems engineering organization globally for networking.

Observers note that Delfino’s defection indicates he believes in the VMware NSX software overlay approach to virtual networking vs. the ACI hardware enabled/accelerated, physical/virtual scheme proposed by Cisco. It also may signal that the Nexus 9000 ACI product line may not be meeting sales expectations in the market.

Or maybe VMware just made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. In any event, it’s an apparent black eye for Cisco’s ACI, which has faced messaging issues up to now.

Mestery’s departure is another stain. He was Cisco’s chief OpenStack architect, responsible for Cisco's open source strategy around OpenStack integration into the product portfolio. Mestery co-founded the internal Cisco Open Source Conference (OSCON) and was an orchestrator of the annual conferences. In addition to OpenStack, Mestery participates in many cloud and infrastructure open source communities, including Open vSwitch, OpenDaylight, libvirt, and Ryu.

Mestery was also involved in Noiro Networks, an open source project within Cisco’s Insieme Business Unit that recently participated in defining a policy blueprint for OpenStack’s Neutron networking component. Noiro was created with a goal of building a set of open-source technologies centered around group-based policies, a “life-long obsession” of Insieme Chief Scientist Mike Dvorkin.

Mestery starts at HP Sept. 29. HP and Cisco did not respond to an inquiry by posting time.

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