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Cisco CEO: Spin-in technologies aren’t dead at Cisco

Michael Cooney | Sept. 21, 2016
The notions of innovation and developing new ways of bringing cutting-edge technology to the networking arena has changed.

“What Robbins has done is democratize the development process within Cisco, said Zeus Kerravala, who is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. “This process he has in place now allows for innovation to come from more parts of the company – anyone who has an itch to be an innovator can do so from within their day job.”

Another interesting angle is in the networking arena that deep-pocketed Cisco could afford to develop technologies outside the company and buy them back. Not many networking competitors could afford to do that.

“The closest thing to a spin-in might have been Juniper and its QFabric development," Kerravala noted. QFabric was designed to create a flat structure of servers, storage and networking for data center resources, Kerravala noted.

Kerravala and others said that the way some of the innovative technologies were developed at Cisco – especially around the time of the most prominent spin-in Cisco leaders (Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, and Luca Cafiero and Soni Jiandani known as MPLS) -- created animosity around the company despite their astounding success.

The four left Cisco in a highly publicized resignation earlier this summer and with them, the spin-in business model as Cisco knew it.

“I would be very surprised if you saw another spin-in emerge under Robbins like the three founded by these engineers. There’s the “Alpha” internal start-up project, billions in funding with other start-ups and a slew of other avenues for Cisco to pursue for innovation” said Jim Duffy, a senior analyst with 451 Research. "Robbins needs all hands on deck and spin-ins created an acrimonious hierarchy internally. Anything’s possible, but I doubt we will see another structured funded and rewarded like these were."


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