Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs

Roughly 80 have their jobs reassigned as Cisco rethinks some of its optical strategy

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

December 12, 2005

2 Min Read
Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has shifted about 80 employees out of its optical group, making way for a strategy that could include a more packet-focused multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP), Light Reading has learned.

At the same time, Rajiv Ramaswami, vice president and general manager of Cisco's optical networking group, has been moved to a position of greater responsibility, a Cisco spokeswoman says. Cisco isn't elaborating on that move.

To backfill Ramaswami, the spokeswoman says Cisco is handing what's left of optical to Surya Panditi, a Cisco vice president whose responsibilities as of early last week included softswitch products. Panditi, who joined Cisco in the summer, was CEO of optical firm Polaris Networks, among others. (See Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco.)

The changes were announced internally last week. The spokeswoman notes that Cisco didn't lay off the workers involved; rather, they will have a chance to apply for other positions within Cisco.

Cisco isn't confirming the number of employees affected but confirms that 80 is in the ballpark. The employees in question hail from multiple Cisco locations, the spokeswoman says.

Cisco says the changes stem from a shifting of strategy. "This was about a reprioritization, a refocusing of our investments on packet-enabled optical transport, specifically carrier Ethernet and DWDM," the spokeswoman says.

This might suggest the end for Cisco's ONS 15600 Multiservice Switching Platform. But Cisco insists that's not the case. "We have not canceled the 15600. That will be a product we continue to develop and sell," the spokeswoman says.

Still, the 15600 was rumored to be on death's door, says Scott Clavenna, chief analyst for Heavy Reading. The reason is that its market isn't large and is dominated by the incumbents -- mostly older boxes from Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), {dirlink 2|94} (NYSE: LU), and {dirlink 2|63} (NYSE/Toronto: NT) -- leaving little room for newcomers. "Cisco was in about fifth place," he says.

At the same time, optical transport is moving to a packet focus. The MSPP, originally designed to accommodate TDM and ATM traffic, is giving way to a box that's primarily Ethernet, with a smattering of TDM support. Such a system is reportedly being requested by several carriers. Taking the trend even further, one carrier reportedly is considering going straight to Ethernet, halting deployment of MSPPs altogether. (See Level 3, XO Rethink MSPPs and Ethernet Stalks the MSPP.)

"Almost every MSPP vendor is trying to come up with a packet MSPP right now," Clavenna says.

By contrast, the "huge" and TDM-heavy 15600 doesn't seem to jibe with the MSPP's future, Clavenna says. "If they look at the costs of keeping the 15600 alive, it's probably a lot smarter to take that money and put it in a packet-oriented box," he says.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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