Luca's First Day at Cisco

Martini turns up at the MPLS 2003 conference wearing a Cisco badge, with another engineer who's switched sides

October 28, 2003

3 Min Read
Luca's First Day at Cisco

WASHINGTON, D.C -- Luca Martini is officially a Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) employee. Martini spent his first day on the Cisco payroll yesterday at the MPLS 2003 Conference hosted by Isocore, an independent testing house.

Martini has helped author several Internet drafts, but he is best known for the eponymous Draft Martini, which has become the basis for the Pseudo Wire Emulation Edge to Edge (PWE3) work in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Draft Martini enables a Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) core network to transport a range of point-to-point and switched VPN services such as private lines, ATM, Ethernet, and Frame Relay.

Martini left his position as senior architect at Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT) earlier this month (see Luca Martini Leaves Level 3).

“Level 3 is a good company to work for,” he says. “I helped build the network there, but I wanted something different. It was time for a change. “

Now, as a technical leader at Cisco, he will be working as part of a team reporting to Bruce Davie, a Cisco Fellow and MPLS guru in his own right. Martini couldn’t say specifically what he’ll be working on, since he says he hasn’t yet met with his team, but he did say that he will be developing new architectural solutions for customers.

Friends and colleagues in the standards community say this is a good move for Martini. But they wonder if other carriers' engineers might follow the same path, further widening the gap within the standards organizations between vendors and service providers.

“It’s good for Luca, and it’s good for Cisco,” says Loa Andersson, co-founder of the consultancy, TLA-group and chair of the Layer 2 virtual private network (VPN) working group in the IETF. “But it could be a problem if a trend emerges, and we start seeing all the really good carrier engineers going to vendors.”

Martini isn’t the only high-profile engineer to recently leave a service provider for a job with a vendor. Chris Liljenstolpe, former senior director of network technologies at Cable & Wireless (NYSE: CWP), is now working for Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA). While Liljenstolpe has not been as involved in the standards process as Martini, he is still well known, especially in the MPLS community, where he has long been an outspoken supporter of the technology. Liljenstolpe seems to be having a hard time shedding his carrier skin. During today’s panel session, he still appeared in his slotted spot on behalf of Cable & Wireless.

“Yes, it’s true I’ve gone to the dark side,” he joked to the crowd. “But today I’m up here speaking from the service provider perspective, not as a vendor.”

Some people in the MPLS community say that without people like Martini and Liljenstolpe pushing vendors to build equipment that solves real-world problems, technology innovation could suffer.

“We’re losing a lot of the good service provider architects,” says Rajiv Papneja, manager of validation and product evaluation for Isocore. “These are the people that should really be driving new developments in technology, not just the vendors.”

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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