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Cisco's Ahuja Staying On – But Not for Long

If you're baking a cake for the going-away party for Kelly Ahuja, best known for heading up Cisco's service provider business, keep the oven warm. Even though Ahuja quit in March, he hasn't gone anywhere yet.

Ahuja's departure was a big deal when we reported it more than two months ago, so I was surprised when a colleague pointed out Ahuja's bio still appears as SVP, service provider business, products and solutions, on Cisco's website. Ahuja also lists that title on his LinkedIn profile. (See Cisco's Ahuja Quits as Robbins Revamps His Top Team.)

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) confirmed that Ahuja is staying on until the end of Cisco's fiscal 2016 to ease in the transition. That puts him in his chair until July 30, so not very long.

Ahuja's extended tenure adds a dollop of stability to a Cisco executive team that has seen more churn than the Red Keep of Westeros since CEO Chuck Robbins was named as the successor to longtime Cisco head John Chambers a year ago.

Most recently, Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero, and Soni Jiandani stepped down. The foursome, nicknamed 'MPLS' for their initials, were masterminds of Cisco's Nexus 9000 switch line, its SDN strategy, as well as the "spin in" innovation strategy that enriched both the MPLS team and Cisco. The resignation came from a "disconnect" in a company reorganization that shunted the team to advisory roles. (See Cisco's 'Spin In' Innovation Team Spins Out.)

During that reorganization, David Goeckeler, previously head of the security business unit, was put in charge of the Networking and Security business.

The MPLS team quitting was the latest step in a stream of executive changes since Robbins took the Cisco helm. (See New Cisco Leadership Favors Diversity, Cisco Brings in New Blood for Tech Leadership and 2 Cisco Presidents Quit.)

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Ahuja's resignation came as part of a March revamp that consolidated the core service provider segment with service provider cloud, video, NFV and mobility into a single service provider business led by Yvette Kanouff. (See CEO Chat With Yvette Kanouff, Head of Cisco's Cloud Business.)

We're still awaiting word whether Cisco's service provider business will report to Goeckeler, or directly to Kanouff.

Also still up in the air: whether Ahuja will be going to the annual Cisco Live event next month in Las Vegas.

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.

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