SD-WAN specialist Versa taps Cisco alum Ahuja as new CEO

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Versa Networks, a provider of SD-WAN and software-defined security platforms, has named Cisco alum Kelly Ahuja as its new CEO.

The company also announced that Pankaj Patel has joined as lead director on Versa’s board of directors.

Ahuja is best known for his 18-year tenure at Cisco where he most recently oversaw the vendor's service provider business. He held multiple leadership roles during his tenure at Cisco, including SVP and GM of the Mobility Business Group and SVP/GM of the Service Provider Routing Technology Group.

Ahuja left Cisco in March after CEO Chuck Robbins realigned the structure of its engineering division. Consisting of Networking, Cloud Services & Platforms, Security and Applications & IoT, each of the unit leaders now report directly to Robbins.

RELATED: Cisco revamps engineering unit, veteran Ahuja to leave company

Versa Networks founder and former CEO Kumar Mehta will continue in his role as the company’s CDO.

While the SD-WAN market is relatively nascent, Versa has been making an impression with service providers. The company’s platform has already been adopted by CenturyLink, RCN Business and a number of large enterprise customers.

CenturyLink launched a SD-WAN service in June that bundles all of the necessary elements for service providers including site connectivity, equipment, software licensing, configuration, performance tuning and monitoring with a management and analytics portal. A business customer can manage their own policies or have CenturyLink manage them.

RCN Business is using the Versa platform to deliver its cloud-based managed security service called RCN Managed Security. The service provider is initially serving customers using its fiber-based services.

While these are the first two customers that Versa has announced, there’s been no shortage of other service providers taking aim at the SD-WAN opportunity. The market has attracted a host of traditional telcos like AT&T and Verizon, as well as competitive providers such as EarthLink and TelePacific.

Other service providers, such as Windstream and Level 3, which are in the midst of separate mergers with EarthLink and CenturyLink, respectively, are also poised to offer an SD-WAN offering in the coming year.