Optical/IP Networks

Routing Maestro Quits Cisco

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has lost one of its top routing experts, Dr. Yakov Rekhter, to arch-rival Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR).

“This is a significant blow to Cisco, on two fronts,” says David Newman, president of Network Test. “First, Rekhter is by any measure a heavyweight in terms of network protocol design. Second, there's a serious perception/marketing issue for Cisco. Juniper's been steadily eroding market share in core Internet devices for a while. Now they've got the guy who's been widely perceived as one of Cisco's top rocket scientists. It's a huge loss for Cisco.”

Rekhter co-wrote BGP (border gateway protocol) version 4, the protocol that makes the global Internet possible. He also co-wrote key pieces of MPLS (multiprotocol label switching), the protocol some tout as the best hope for scaling IP QOS and security. He's co-author of the leading text on MPLS. And if that isn’t enough, he also co-wrote the "private addressing" RFC that Newman credits for keeping the Internet from running out of IP addresses “for the past 10 years.”

Industry observers think that other defections could follow. “In general, Cisco is now a much easier place to recruit from, since many there believe the ride is over,” says a partner at a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, who requested anonymity.

Juniper’s wooing of Rekhter represents a second victory in the last two weeks in its battle against Cisco. A recent report credited Juniper with increasing its share of the core routing market from 22 to 29 percent (see Juniper Eats Into Cisco's Lunch).

Still, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom for Cisco on the recruiting front. In November it lured its original CTO, Ed Kozel, back into the fold (see Ed Kozel Is Back at Cisco).

And a former colleague of Rekhter’s downplays the impact of his defection. “Rekhter is one of the minor deities in routing, but his departure won't have much impact on Cisco,” he says. "Rekhter spent most of his time on strategic issues and didn't really have much to do with product development.”

He suspects that Rekhter is leaving Cisco for the same reasons that he left IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). "He doesn't like working for big corporations, and he doesn't like working for startups," he says, noting that Juniper is now about the size that Cisco was when Rekhter joined it.

Juniper confirmed that it had hired Rekhter but declined further comment. Cisco did not return calls.

Cisco closed down $4.94 (12.91%) at $33.31. Juniper closed down $23.50 (18.64%) at $102.56.

-- Stephen Saunders, US Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
Steve Saunders 12/4/2012 | 9:03:00 PM
re: Routing Maestro Quits Cisco Is this the tip of the iceberg for Cisco?

--Steve Saunders
shart 12/4/2012 | 9:02:59 PM
re: Routing Maestro Quits Cisco I appreciate the wide coverage your website
provides for the industry.
But I don't think this story warrants any
discussion. this is just gossip. Yes nice
to know, but certainly not a basis to discuss
which direction Cisco is headed.

A discussion of Cisco's future should be
based more on real data and figures.
I hope a publication like LightReading would
dig and get more in-depth facts.
(e.g., who are Cisco's customers, how do
the products match up against competitors,
what do the financial figures indicate, etc.).
Do I have to wait for BusinessWeek or Fortune
to do this, or can I expect LightReading
to provide some of this?

matt 12/4/2012 | 9:02:58 PM
re: Routing Maestro Quits Cisco Stories like this are useful. Good talent leaving is one of the first indicators of problems in a company. About nine months ago a mass exodus began at lucent and we have seen what happened to their stock. In addition, routing is key to future product development and strategy. No doubt this is news.
Christopher 12/4/2012 | 9:02:57 PM
re: Routing Maestro Quits Cisco With an annual sales revenue growth of 55.49% and sale per share of 2.74, CSCO is a solid company with excelent execution.

It may be a good time to join CSCO if you can get a good stock option plan priced at $40.
jordan_lj 12/4/2012 | 9:02:55 PM
re: Routing Maestro Quits Cisco many people from Cisco beat the Juniper the system architecture such as M160 ,for it's shared memory .maybe he can do something to improve it .But if his task mainly focus on standard ,it's hardly of use .
samia 12/4/2012 | 9:02:52 PM
re: Routing Maestro Quits Cisco he can't add anything to juniper.
John J
rtibbs 12/4/2012 | 9:02:51 PM
re: Routing Maestro Quits Cisco Sounds like rampant agism.
Maybe the reason 200 companies just made smoke out of $10 billion is because there were a few too many 25 year-olds making "contributions".
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