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), (NYSE: LU), and (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

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listenfirst 12/5/2012 | 2:51:05 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs OK, so the article is out...Cisco "swaps opto jobs', and looks like the 15600 is on the chopping block..

So, of the 80 jobs that are to be "shifted out of it's optical group", where will the biggest hit come:

San Jose

bmr777bmr 12/5/2012 | 2:51:04 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs There were cuts last week in Richardson.

My next door neighbor was affected by the changes. My neighbor does have the option to find work within Cisco but that's if any group is hiring. My neighbor has only two months to find something before they hand out his severance package.
CiscoSystems15454 12/5/2012 | 2:51:03 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs Was the 15600 internally referred to as the CXC? Is Sharad Rao who once was, maybe still is Dir SW Development for this product?
new_light 12/5/2012 | 2:51:02 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs This is nothing new. They were doing that when I was there (97-01). If you neighbor has established a reputation for being competent, someone will pick him up within a week or two. If not, then he will be out on the street. They (Cisco) use that to weed out the dead wood.
I always thought that was kind of under handed.
capolite 12/5/2012 | 2:51:01 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs I've heard Petaluma is hit the hardest. It's a sign of the internal pressure thay they decided to start the 60 day clock to get another internal job right in front of the holidays. The flame has been turned up higher internally on everyone.
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 2:50:53 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs I remember hearing ... was it last year? ... that the old Monterey Networks team was still around. I would guess they've been dissolved, with this move, but that's just a guess.
CiscoSystems15454 12/5/2012 | 2:50:51 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs Don't they do that (cutting the dead wood which is either the bottom 5 or 10 percent) every year right around holiday time?
CiscoSystems15454 12/5/2012 | 2:50:51 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs Part of the Monterrey team was split up and brought into the Systems Test Group (SONET/SDH) for the 15454 back in 2000-2001 if I can remember correctly.

sjd6 12/5/2012 | 2:50:50 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs From what I hear this is much more than the bottom
5 or 10%. Unknown revenue from replacement products
are several years out, so future of petaluma does not look good imho.
WangChung1 12/5/2012 | 2:50:47 AM
re: Cisco Swaps Opto Jobs A large portion of the Monterey Networks folks were let go back in April of 2001. Only the good hardware and software engineers were kept. Those that survived the layoff were sent to work with the Cerent and Pirelli groups. However, over the years, most of these people eventually left on their own.

My sources over at the Richardson campus say that layoffs have been going on for the last three months or so. These sources also say that a lot of the job functions are being sent to people located in India.
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