Li Rejoins Cisco in Data Center Unit

IP routing guru Tony Li re-enters the Cisco fold in Jayshree Ullal's division

February 17, 2007

2 Min Read
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Router guru Tony Li has returned to the roost at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), it seems. And he's popped up in the company's Data Center Business Unit, home of Cisco's storage and server switching, virtualization, wide-area application services, and applications networking products.

The unit is headed by Cisco SVP Jayshree Ullal. (See Cisco Names Data Chief.)

Cisco has confirmed Li has rejoined the company and is working in the company's Data Center Business Unit as a Cisco Fellow (Distinguished Scientist).

There are actually two Tony Lis in the Cisco directory. (Yes, there's a Cisco employee who happens to share a name with the Tony Li and no doubt suffers all kinds of misdirected calls as a result.) Voicemail to the "correct" Tony Li has gone unreturned so far, as has an email to his personal account.

For the uninitiated, Li is considered one of the top IP routing experts in the world, making him a bit of a celebrity in tech circles. He's had a colorful career that's intersected with key times at Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR). (See Tony Li.)Table 1: Tony Li Timeline



January 1991

Joins Cisco, helps develop the GRS 12000. Reportedly storms out, nailing his resignation letter to a door.


Joins Juniper, works on the flagship M40 router


Joins Procket, leaving Juniper just before its IPO

March 2004

Quits Procket, dabbles in consulting

December 2004

Rejoins Cisco

September 2005

Leaves Cisco for Portola Networks, rejoining former Procket exec Vito Palermo

April 2006

Departs Portola to join Tropos Networks


Third stint at Cisco

Considering Li keeps coming back to Cisco, it's tempting to draw parallels to former baseball manager Billy Martin. Except Martin was repeatedly fired by the New York Yankees, whereas Li seems to shift in and out of projects at his own behest. And, as far as we know, Li hasn't kicked dirt on anyone.

It's still unclear what prompted this latest homecoming. Li, who seems to relish the startup life, had ended his most recent Cisco tour in 2005, first joining Portola Networks, then Tropos Networks Inc. (See Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again and Li Takes Tropos Route.)

News of Li's return to Cisco comes as another of its well known faces, Mike Volpi, settles into life outside the vendor. (See Volpi Sizes Up Life After Cisco and Volpi Out at Cisco.)

Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading0

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