Reorg Throws Cisco Storage Unit Into Disarray

What's going on in this unit under the new stucture? Don't ask Cisco; it doesn't know yet

August 25, 2001

3 Min Read
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Cisco Systems Incs (Nasdaq: CSCO) storage networking group has been thrown up in the air somewhat following the corporate reorganization that took place yesterday (see Reorg Rips Through Cisco's Ranks).

Company CEO John Chambers has decided that the product lines within the enterprise and service provider business groups have “blurred” to such an extent that it no longer makes sense to run them as separate units.

To address this he has carved the company up into 11 “technology groups” (optical and storage networking among them) with the ambitious goal of serving all customers that require one of these technologies -- enterprises and service providers alike -- under one umbrella.

But before Cisco gets around to addressing how to keep both groups happy at the same time, there are some housekeeping problems it must also tackle, such as who’s in charge of which technology group. And the storage business in particular turns out to be more than a little confused on this front.

“Nobody seems to be sure who’s in charge of what,” said an employee in the storage division who asked to remain nameless.Prior to the reorganization, Mark Cree was the general manager of the storage group at Cisco. “My job is unchanged,” he told Byte and Switch, but it is unclear whether this means he is actually holding the reins there now or not.

“I can't comment on anything else beyond this, since we are still working out the details,” he says.

Despite the seemingly haphazard restructure, Cree believes the reorganization will be a positive move for the storage networking business as “it gets more visibility now as an equal-tier technology focus within Cisco.”

Another point of contention is who will head up Andiamo Systems Inc., now that Mario Mazzola has switched jobs. Andiamo is the company Cisco has spun off to build a large multiprotocol SAN switch, with a view to potentially spinning it in again at some point (see Cisco’s Secret SAN Strategies Revealed).

Mazzola, an eight-year Cisco veteran, was senior VP of new business ventures and the mastermind behind Andiamo. Although he wasn’t officially named CEO, this was generally considered to be his position, according to people familiar with Andiamo. Under the new structure, Mazzola has been named chief development officer, responsible for all 11 Cisco technology groups.“It’s unlikely he’ll be able to devote as much time to Andiamo now,” says an ex-Cisco VP who used to work closely with Mazzola. Buck Gee, formerly with Com21 Inc. (Nasdaq: CMTO), has been named COO of Andiamo until a new boss is found, the source said.

Personnel issues aside, the restructuring raises some interesting questions about how Cisco will maintain credibility with each of these sectors of the market, given that it won’t be focusing on them independently anymore.

Analysts say the “blurring” is intended to disguise where its enterprise business ends and its service provider business begins, to cover up measly results in the service provider market.

Still, there are some advantages to not having its technology split between multiple lines of business. For example, having all the storage products in one group means that decisions on interoperability and what technologies to pursue, etc., are taken in one place rather than being made independently.

So, Cisco’s age-old problem of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, might actually get better under this new structure. Then again, porcine quadrupeds might take to the sky.— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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