When Ciena's Chief Operating Officer (COO) François Locoh-Donou announced last week that he'd be leaving the optical giant in March, it seemed just a matter of time before his next move would be revealed. (See Ciena COO 'Steps Down'.)
That he's staying in the communications networking sector isn't a surprise but I bet there aren't many folks that would have put money on him taking the CEO job at F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV), where he will take the hot seat from April 3. (See F5 Appoints Locoh-Donou as President & CEO.)
F5, which built its business selling application delivery networking tools (traffic steering, load balancing, policy enforcement and the like) to enterprises and service providers, has transformed its portfolio to focus more on security capabilities and has introduced software versions of its products that can run either on its own hardware platforms or as virtual applications that can run on white box hardware.
And it seems Locoh-Donou's experience at Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), where he held a variety of roles that included helping it shift from a pure hardware vendor to a company that could also offer SDN and NFV capabilities, attracted the F5 board as it looked for a replacement for long-time CEO John McAdam, who is set to retire (but retain a directorship).
"At a time when F5 is expanding its partnerships and products into cloud and security markets, François brings a renewed sense of purpose to F5's original vision: applications without constraints," stated Al Higginson, F5's Chairman.
That new strategic direction appears to be paying off for F5: The company recently reported 5.4% year-on-year sales growth for the first quarter of its fiscal 2017 year, generating $516 million in revenues and a net profit of $94.2 million.
It noted in its earnings release that, for the second quarter in a row, security "accounted for an increasing percentage of product sales reflecting strong demand for Access Policy Manager and our firewall products," while more security products are now shipping as software modules that run on the company's BIG-IP platform.
F5 has already transitioned its business in a way that makes sense: What will be interesting to watch is how Locoh-Donou stamps his identity on the company and whether that will involve taking F5 into additional adjacent markets, either organically or via acquisitions.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading