Routing Maestro Quits Cisco
“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