Tony Li Leaps to Redback

Fabled programmer Tony Li has left Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) yet again, this time landing with Redback Networks Inc. , now part of the Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) empire. (See IPTV Drives Ericsson to Redback.)

Li didn't immediately return a message left at his Redback extension, or respond to email requests for comment, but Redback company officials have confirmed he's there.

Li's career is an ever-popular topic with Light Reading's audience. He's worked at Cisco three times since 1991. He also helped Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) climb to IPO status, and built up Procket as a would-be competitor in core routing. (See Procket Processes a Dream Team, Li Finally Quits Procket, Tony Li Returns to Cisco, Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again, Li Takes Tropos Route, and Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again).)

Table 1: Tony Li Timeline
When Where/What
January 1991 Joins Cisco, helps develop the GRS 12000; reportedly storms out, nailing his resignation letter to a door
1996 Joins Juniper, works on the flagship M40 router
1999 Joins Procket, leaving Juniper just before its IPO
March 2004 Quits Procket, dabbles in consulting
December 2004 Rejoins Cisco
September 2005 Leaves Cisco for Portola Networks, rejoining former Procket exec Vito Palermo
April 2006 Departs Portola to join Tropos Networks
2007 Third stint at Cisco
Early 2008 Joins Redback (owned by Ericsson)

Li's move to Redback apparently happened months ago. His name is on an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) draft dated March 2008, along with one R. Atkinson of Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR).

What might Li be working on these days? Well, that draft covers cryptographic authorization for the Intermediate System to Intermediate System (IS-IS) routing protocol.

The pattern so far has been for Li to return to startup life occasionally, shedding himself of "corporate overhead" -- a term he used in a 2004 interview with Light Reading. (See Tony Li.)

Redback, though, could be subject to a certain level of Ericsson overhead, though it appears to have retained some autonomy and appears to be taking the lead in Ericsson's IP efforts -- much as the former TiMetra team has done at what is now Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s IP division.

With Ericsson's muscle behind it, Redback is pushing hard to challenge Cisco, Juniper, and especially AlcaLu at the network edge. (See Redback Targets 30% Market Share and Redback Goes on the Offensive.)

Last year, Redback pumped up its routing platform considerably with the SmartEdge 1200 introduction, and just this week it offered up the SM 480 for carrier Ethernet needs. That Redback might have more routing tricks up its sleeve wouldn't come as a surprise, especially with Li on board. (See Redback Beefs Up Its Router, Redback Targets AlcaLu – Again!, and Redback Beats AlcaLu to French Deal.)

Li's latest departure from Cisco is part of an executive exit trend at the IP giant. Chief development officer Charles Giancarlo is now running Avaya Inc. as part of his duties at private equity firm Silver Lake Partners , while executive vice president Jayshree Ullal quit recently, hinting she'd resurface after the summer. (See Giancarlo Steps in at Avaya, Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake, and Ullal Calls It Quits at Cisco.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:38:59 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback Craig, I think you missed Portola Networks. Tony did a short stint there with a former Procket pal.

Tony is a pure genius and I will bet you some world class code he will be back at CSCO. I think he will always have a home there, one way, or another.
zulur 12/5/2012 | 3:38:58 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback That says a lot about Cisco and Tony. Good for him.
ex-procket-jock 12/5/2012 | 3:38:57 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback Zulur said: That says a lot about Cisco and Tony. Good for him.

That says absolutely *nothing* about Cisco and Tony other than "There he goes again". I worked at Cisco the first time he left (in dramatic fashion), worked at Procket when he left and came back multiple times before he actually left, worked again at Cisco where he's been back and gone multiple times. Starting to detect a pattern here? What more is there to add, other than he is remarkably consistent about moving on every other year or so.

M00ner 12/5/2012 | 3:38:56 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback Tony Li is a genius, in networking he is the equivalent to:

Pele in football
Phil Taylor in darts
Ricky Hatton in boxing
digits 12/5/2012 | 3:38:53 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback M00ner
You can't stop there!!

What about snooker? Is he Higgins or Davis (either one)?
Tennis? McEnroe or Federer?
Cricket? Botham or Botham? :-)

And Hatton? Pele, then *Hatton*?
Come on....
sjd6 12/5/2012 | 3:38:53 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback Has he quit yet?
gothal 12/5/2012 | 3:38:52 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback >> Has he quit yet?

Hehe. He is looking for the exit. :-)
wwfsmd 12/5/2012 | 3:38:52 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback Pele??

Have you heard of Maradona? You sound Brit, so I understand the bias ("Hand of God", remember?? :-)


You obviously missed the fight where he got his butt kicked by Mayweather.
M00ner 12/5/2012 | 3:38:51 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback wwfsmd:
"...like the poor we will always have plebs..."

I have heard of Diego Armand Maradona who was fantastic. However, his substance abuse prohibits him from being a genuis in my book.

Hatton is a warrior (a la Li). Yeah he took a licking from Mayweather but Hatton is an honest, working-class fighter! Did you see him fight Kostya Tsyzu? A genial performance thus a genius!

Want to question Phil Taylor's ability?

FYI - I don't care for the Brits!
brahmos 12/5/2012 | 3:38:51 PM
re: Tony Li Leaps to Redback yawn yawn...doesnt sound like much of a team player.
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