VMware on Tuesday named a new CIO, soon-to-be ex-Juniper CIO Bask Iyer.
Iyer will have "senior vice president and chief information officer" on his email signature, and will lead VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)'s global information and technology organization, which runs the technology that powers VMware's worldwide business operations. He starts March 23, reporting to Jonathan Chadwick, VMWare CFO/COO and executive VP. Iyer will also serve on VMware's executive staff.
He replaces Tony Scott, recently appointed to the role of CIO for the US government, VMware said in a statement. (See VMware Hires Away Juniper CIO.)
Iyer joins VMware as the company is making a big push into SDN, going head-to-head against Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). Such a top executive from a networking vendor -- and a top rival to Cisco as well -- will be a major asset for VMware.
VMware is building its networking bench, hiring leading networking executives from Big Switch Networks and Cisco in October. VMware named Cisco's Dominick Delfino to head up technical sales, and Big Switch founder Guido Appenzeller has also joined the team. Both men work for Martin Casado, senior VP of VMware's networking and security business unit, who was named to that position last year after serving as the unit's CTO. (See VMware Hires Top Execs From Cisco, Big Switch.)
For Cisco's part, CEO John Chambers said of VMware on an earnings call this month: "We are going to beat them as a competitor ... and have fun doing it." (See Cisco Sees Strong Quarter Despite Carrier Weakness.)
For Juniper, on the other hand, it's a top executive departure coming not long after its CEO left under a cloud. Shaygan Kheradpir quit effective immediately in November, following a "review by the board of directors of his leadership and his conduct in connection with a particular negotiation with a customer," the company said. His replacement is Rami Rahim, who has been with Juniper for 17 years and is scheduled to present the company's vision to press March 11. (See Turmoil at Juniper as CEO Quits.)
Kheradpir himself refocused the company following an attack by activist investors Elliott Management. (See Investor to Juniper: 'You Suck'.)
In a compromise with Elliott, Juniper agreed in December to name two new directors, and followed through Tuesday, appointing Jim Dolce and Rahul Merchant to its board.
Iyer has worked more than 25 years in Fortune 100 manufacturing companies and Silicon Valley high-tech firms. At Juniper he worked as senior VP and CIO since 2011, responsible for technology and business operations, including critical services around business transformation, global business services, IT, and real estate and workplace services. Iyer previously worked as CIO at Honeywell GlaxoSmithKline Beecham, taking charge of consumer healthcare research and development and e-commerce activities.
While at Juniper, Iyer led the company's transition to cloud, which required swapping out switches and routers for newer Juniper gear. He said last year the transition allowed him to direct 30% of the IT budget to innovation. The private cloud would allow developers to request servers in minutes rather than days (a kind of flexibility that service providers are struggling to achieve).
Iyer says CEOs should let CIOs sit in on strategic meetings with senior executives, while CIOs need to be able to communicate effectively about the business -- and if either CEOs or CIOs can't do those things, they should be fired.
CIOs need to balance operations with strategic thinking, "knowing when to wear the IT Ops hat versus the IT Strategy hat, as well as how to earn and keep a seat at the company’s leadership table (or even board of directors)," Iyers said in a 2013 post on a Juniper company blog. He added:
That is, instead of just making sure the company's email is working, IT can provide real-world, hands-on feedback on what your company's products or services do (or don’t do) to the design engineers, technical support, and services teams who are all involved in the delivery of that product or service to the end customer.