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Cisco names third CTO, shifts execs

Jul 14, 20044 mins
Cisco SystemsFinancial Services IndustryWi-Fi

In an effort to better communicate its technology strategy and directions, Cisco this week named veteran executive Charlie Giancarlo as the third CTO in company history.

In an effort to better communicate its technology strategy and directions, Cisco this week named veteran executive Charlie Giancarlo as the third CTO in company history.

At the same time, Cisco shuffled some of the executives who report to Chief Development Officer Mario Mazzola to better address key markets and customer requirements. Interestingly, the reorganization keeps tightly aligned three executives from Cisco’s acquisition of enterprise LAN switch company, Crescendo Communications 11 years ago.

Crescendo is the foundation of Cisco’s multibillion-dollar Catalyst LAN switching line. Giancarlo had been “co-leader” of network switching, one of Cisco’s core technologies, and of several advanced technologies, including voice, storage networking and network security. He is also president of Cisco-Linksys, Cisco’s home networking subsidiary.

As CTO, Giancarlo will be responsible for contributing to and communicating Cisco’s technology strategy, and manage Cisco’s Global Government Solutions Group. He will also continue to be president of Cisco-Linksys and lead the company’s voice endeavors, Cisco says.

Giancarlo is the first CTO Cisco’s had in four years. Cisco’s previous CTO was serial entrepreneur Judy Estrin, who sat in the post between 1998 and 2000, after taking the reins from Ed Kozel, who served as CTO between 1990 and 1998.

Cisco decided to reactivate the CTO position in an effort to better communicate its business and technology strategies internally and externally, a company spokesman said.

“We’re always looking at ways of communicating with customers,” the spokesman said. “This will increase communication of our strategy and vision to a broad array of audiences.”

Cisco’s always looking to increase its market share, too. With that, the company reshuffled Mazzola’s technology organization:

  • Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president, will lead the newly formed Security Technology Group, reporting to Mazzola. Ullal and Mazzola came to Cisco with the Crescendo acquisition. Previously, Ullal ran Cisco’s Optical and Broadband Transport group. Reporting to Ullal will be Richard Palmer, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s VPN and Security business unit, and perhaps Cisco’s most visible executive on network security. Palmer previously reported to Giancarlo.

  • Luca Cafiero, senior vice president, will lead the newly formed Data Center, Storage, Switching, and Wireless Technology Group, reporting to Mazzola. He, too, came to Cisco from Crescendo.

  • Replacing Ullal in Optical and Broadband Transport is Vice President and General Manager Kambiz Hooshmand. Hooshmand had shared responsibility of Cisco’s Carrier Core Multiservice business unit with Vice President and General Manager Tony Bates. Hooshmand will now report to Mazzola.

  • Bates will now have sole responsibility for the Carrier Core Multiservice business unit, continuing to report to Prem Jain and Mike Volpi, both senior vice presidents of Cisco’s  Routing Technology Group.

  • Kathy Hill, vice president and general manager, will oversee Cisco’s newly formed Mid-range and Stackable Switching Technology Group, reporting to Mazzola. Hill had reported to Larry Birenbaum, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Ethernet Access group, who has taken a “long planned, well-deserved” sabbatical, the spokesman says. Hill had been vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Desktop Switching business unit.

Analysts say Cisco customers might gain more input and clarity into the company’s directions but beyond that, the reorganization means business as usual. It also realigns some executives with their core strengths while perhaps passing over others.

“It takes Jayshree out of optical and puts her back to where she was before, which is more enterprise-oriented,” says Frank Dzubeck, president of consultancy Communications Network Architects. “But then again, it doesn’t reward Palmer who’s done an excellent job in the securities area.”

“You still have the same people running the show,” says Dave Passmore, research director at The Burton Group. “It’s also interesting that they decided to reconstitute the CTO position after four years of vacancy. They (may have) thought it was necessary to better coordinate all of the development activities at Cisco. The other thought is maybe Giancarlo is an up-and-coming star, and this is a way of giving him a more prominent role.”

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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