Optical/IP Networks

Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again

Router guru Tony Li has packed his bags, again leaving (Nasdaq: CSCO) and again joining a startup.

Li has reunited with Procket Networks COO Vito Palermo at Portola, an embryonic startup looking to improve content delivery on the Internet. Li will head up Portola's engineering team and will be responsible for its technology.

A veteran of Cisco and (Nasdaq: JNPR), Li was hired by core-router startup Procket in 2000. Procket didn't fly, however, and Cisco eventually bought the intellectual property and some engineers. Li did some consulting before getting rehired by Cisco in December 2004. (See Procket Processes a Dream Team, Li Finally Quits Procket, and Tony Li Returns to Cisco.)

"Cisco the second time was a lot like Cisco the first time, only both of us were older and wiser," Li tells Light Reading in an email. He won't be building a router at Portola, but it appears he'll be tackling some problems associated with IP routing. Portola aims to provide a service to content providers and content aggregators, allowing them to offer the automatic downloading of content to arbitrary devices including cell phones.

The plan will likely involve Portola buying network capacity from carriers, but the company's delivery mechanism won't shun the wider Internet. "There's an amount of routing and route selection that goes into how you use the system. You still use the Internet, but you can intelligently use the Internet," Palermo says.

The idea is to make life easier for Internet consumers, but without counting on the finicky consumer market for revenues. The service might require some client software, but that software would be bundled into the consumer devices, Palermo expects.

"I originally wanted to build a box that sat in the home to make all this easier. The conclusion that I came to was that there are enough boxes in the home, and they have enough horsepower, in CPUs and software, to make this possible," Palermo says. "This was an opportunity for us to shift our thinking from the development of hardware for the Internet to the development of services."

Palermo hasn't yet sought venture funding for the six-person startup, saying he preferred to fund the company himself, then seek venture partners once enough milestones had been reached. "I would expect to be doing that sometime soon," he says.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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steamerslane 3/16/2013 | 4:46:20 PM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again cisco will be out of business in 10 years.
Mezo 12/5/2012 | 3:00:57 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again Tony,

Glad to see your back in the game...

Only one of these could have freed you from Cisco's clutches...


Or a great vision and solid business plan...I smell P2Pv2 coming...

Vito is a good one, I'm sure Portola will be an industry changer with you two together...just change the world that's all we ask of you.

Ok, now all the LR trash talkers can have at it...let's see how many love/hate posts they can generate...
russ4br 12/5/2012 | 3:00:53 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again CRS-1 is just about the perfect core routing system for the next 20 years. No challenges left on this area. It was good that the Procket team gave it a through review, and finally their blessings.The engineering challenges are now on the application side (IMS, Content Distribution, Web-based IP Communication services, etc, etc).

Some more thoughts from Toni and others at:


gotman 12/5/2012 | 3:00:48 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again Who knows more about what they are deploying? From their site, they are doing 7-8G between cities, i'm sure they aren't deploying 10G on the crs. More like 40G? any details about the 40G transport?

Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Routing System Chosen to Power China's CERNET


BTW, LR was never behind yahoo on the wire.. whats happening?
fiber_r_us 12/5/2012 | 3:00:47 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again There is no widely deployed 40G transport infrastructure between cities. It is >99% 2.5G and 10G. There have been a few "press-release" trials of 40G transponders "glued" to 10G transport equipment.

All of the major (AT&T, Sprint, UUNet, Level3) Internet backbone providers are using Nx10G pipes for connectivity between cities. The largest of these that I have seen is 10x10G (i.e. 100G) today on specific routes.
fiat_lux 12/5/2012 | 3:00:47 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again Does the new company allow Tony to post to lightreading? We haven't heard anything from him since he joined Cisco...

ironccie 12/5/2012 | 3:00:45 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again "An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness."
? - Elbert Hubbard

Good luck,

768 12/5/2012 | 3:00:43 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again Tony may be gone, but several ex-Procketeers are in key engineering and product management roles for the CRS, GSR and 7600. A few ended up at Juniper as well.
Iipoed 12/5/2012 | 3:00:42 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again Who really cares whether he posts. No company loyalty, all about him. Rather here from a CTO that cares about who they work for and the products they bring to market. Not someone attempting to merely market themselves.
mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 3:00:40 AM
re: Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again Rather here from a CTO that cares about who they work for and the products they bring to market.

I'd be pretty sure he cared about Procket quite a lot, and the router they built.

Not someone attempting to merely market themselves.

I never saw him do that on the threads he contributed to here, including the one or two occasions he directly replied to my posts.

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