Hammerhead Founder Steps Aside

Right off its product debut, the edge switching startup sees two senior technical officers step down

June 3, 2004

2 Min Read
Hammerhead Founder Steps Aside

On the heels of his company's first product launch, founder John Yu has stepped down as chief technology officer of Hammerhead Systems Inc., marking the second time a senior technical member has left his post at the edge-switch startup.

Just three weeks ago, Hammerhead debuted its HSX 6000, which targets the multiservice edge space. The 1/4-rack, 120-Gbit/s box focuses on Layer 2 traffic rather than the Layer 3 approach pursued by competitors like Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). (See Hammerhead Strikes at the Edge.)

Yu is not completely ditching the startup, according to Hammerhead officials. A Hammerhead spokeswoman confirms Yu has left the CTO position but notes that he is "still affiliated with the company," working on projects to establish Hammerhead's presence in Asia. Hammerhead has no plans to seek a replacement, she says.

Yu's departure follows that of Jan Medved, the company's chief architect. One source says Medved left quietly some months ago, his departure noted only because of his sudden absence at standards meetings.

Hammerhead isn't giving reasons for Medved's departure or Yu's "change in focus," although the spokeswoman noted Yu wants to spend more time with his family.

She adds that this doesn't leave Hammerhead's technology rudderless, as vice president of engineering Kim Holmes had been the company's technical lead even before the departures. He joined in 2002, shortly after Medved's arrival (see Hammerhead Systems Inc.).

Nonetheless, the personnel shuffling might be disconcerting to some, as Hammerhead is only now hitting the marketplace. The HSX 6000 is one of several targeting carriers' migration to core networks based on Internet Protocol (IP) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS). The idea is to take in Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Ethernet, and Frame Relay traffic at the edge, merging the different traffic types for transport across a single network core.

Hammerhead's big task is to get an OEM partner lined up. Other competitive startups have established reseller agreements with bigger names, a way to help latch onto big carrier accounts. For example, Laurel Networks Inc. has an agreement with Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN); and WaveSmith Networks got flat-out acquired by Ciena. TiMetra Networks and Vivace Networks got snatched up by Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), respectively.

At the same time, the big vendors are trying to muscle into the space. Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) aims the M320 here, and Nortel recently introduced its MPE 9000 family for the multiservice edge. Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), like Hammerhead, is aiming for a Layer 2 approach with its upcoming CBX 3500. And Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) continues to say its 7600, 10000, and 12000 router lines can compete in this space as well. (See Juniper Hatches the M320, Nortel's Neptune Surfaces, and Lucent's WaveSmith Killer.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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