Former CIO exec, data center sales head leaving Cisco

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As it undergoes reorganization, Cisco is losing two long-time executives. (FierceWireless)

Amid a reorganization effort, Cisco is losing two key executives, including a former CIO and its top data center sales leader.

According to an internal email that was viewed by The Information, Guillermo Diaz Jr., Cisco's current senior vice president of customer transformation since February and former chief information officer since 2015, will leave the company in February.

Frank Palumbo, who has been with Cisco for almost 28 years, also headed for the exit turnstile. Palumbo, who was senior vice president of global data centers sales, has joined Pensando Systems as its chief revenue officer. Pensando Systems is an edge computing startup that was founded by four former Cisco executives. Pensando also has the support of former Cisco CEO John Chambers, who is chairman of the board and an investor with Pensando. (Pensando was recently named one of the top disrupters in the telecommunications industry by FierceTelecom.)


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Pensando is led by Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero and Soni Jiandani, who were collectively known as "MPLS" (the letters of their first names) during their time at Cisco. The four came over to Cisco in 1993 after Cisco bought Ethernet switching company Crescendo Communications. The Pensando platform delivers highly programmable software-defined cloud, compute, networking, storage, and security services wherever data is located. 

“We thank Guillermo Diaz and Frank Palumbo for their tremendous contributions to Cisco and wish them all the best in the next chapter in their careers," a Cisco spokesperson said in an email to FierceTelecom.

RELATED: Former Cisco executives ready to take on AWS with startup Pensando

Diaz, who joined Cisco in 2000, was was replaced as the company's CIO in February by former Thomson Reuters CIO Jacqueline Guichelaar.

"It’s been my honor to have served for the past 20 years at World’s #1 Place to Work @Cisco," Diaz wrote on his Twitter account. "I have learned from the best leaders and have been part of/led the best teams ever! Now it is time to move on to my next chapter and purpose."

Last month Cisco started restructuring efforts that included combining its data center network and enterprise network divisions while rebranding its computing cloud business to Cloud Strategy and Compute. Cisco is also changing its current cloud computing software unit to include data center software and servers.  

As part of the reorg, Kip Compton, who has been with Cisco for 14 years and is currently the SVP and general manager of its Cloud Platform and Solution, will be shuffled over to Cisco's Networking and Security Business Group.

Dave Ward, Cisco's chief technology officer of engineering, is leaving his position to take on a new unannounced role with the company. Roland Acra, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Data Center division, will replace Ward.

Cisco's Scott Harrell, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise networking, is slated to lead the combined enterprise and networking division. Lastly, Liz Centoni, who is currently senior vice president and general manager of IoT, will be the leader of the new Cloud Strategy and Compute division.

RELATED: Cisco chops 488 jobs in its San Jose, Milpitas offices

Over the past summer, Cisco eliminated 488 employees, according to a filing with the State of California. The networking giant let 397 employees go from its San Jose campus, which serves as Cisco's headquarters, while another 91 workers in Cisco's Milpitas office also lost their jobs.

RELATED: Global headwind buffets Cisco's Q1 results and Q2 guidance

In last month's first quarter fiscal earnings report, Cisco said its second-quarter revenue would be down 3% to 5% from a year earlier to between $12.07 billion to $11.82 billion due to macro economic conditions, which included the tariff war between China and the U.S., unrest in Hong Kong, and Brexit, according to CEO Chuck Robbins.

Cisco reported first quarter revenue of $13.2 billion, which was an increase of 1% from a year ago, and slightly ahead of analysts’ consensus forecast at $13.09 billion. Adjusted profits were 84 cents a share, three cents ahead of Wall Street’s consensus at 81 cents.

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