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Managing Editor

Procket wins, loses

Feb 03, 20043 mins

* Lands largest customer, but COO, and maybe Tony Li, depart

On the heels of landing its largest customer, Procket Networks has also lost its chief operating officer, and perhaps its founder and chief scientist, Tony Li.

Procket this week bested Cisco and Juniper Networks for a multimillion-dollar deal with Australia’s Research and Education Network (AARNet). AARNet is installing 12 Procket PRO/8812 and PRO/8801 routers for its worldwide network buildout supporting 37 Australian universities and other scientific and industrial research organizations, and more than 800,000 end users.

But the 5-year-old, privately held company also lost COO Vito Palermo, who resigned to pursue other career opportunities. Palermo became Procket’s COO after the June departure of CEO Randall Kruep.

But Palermo may have had his sights set on the CEO seat at Procket. He was passed over, however, when former Cisco executive Roland Acra was named Procket president and CEO earlier this year.

Another significant vacancy at Procket may open up when Chief Scientist Tony Li wraps up his customer support work at AARNet. Li reportedly gave notice at Procket this week with a note to employees that stated he would be leaving the company after his “tour of duty” in Australia is up.

“I do not like letting you down, but the alternative to doing so is far worse,” the note reportedly stated. “There are some things that a man has to do if he wants to retain his basic ethics and morals.”

A Procket spokesman said Li is still employed at Procket and confirmed that he is in Australia supporting the AARNet installation. He did not deny receipt of the note, saying it was a “personnel issue we don’t discuss externally.”

Li is renowned throughout the industry for his technical contributions and his flair for the dramatic. He co-authored the BGP4 protocol, the workhorse of the Internet backbone; and architected Cisco’s 12000 series routers and Juniper’s M-series routers. He also reportedly nailed his Cisco resignation letter to a door at the company, and clashed with Juniper CEO Scott Kriens before leaving that company, and Procket CEO Kruep before Kruep left.

Rather than replacing Palermo or Li, Procket’s near-term priorities are driving more sales and lining up channel, distribution and OEM partnerships. Asked if Procket is for sale and shopping itself around – Cisco is rumored to be eyeing the company as the delay in its next-generation “HFR” router lengthens – the spokesman says: “We’re in the mode of building a solid business right now. A whole bunch of good exit strategies come from that.”

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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