Source: Cisco 'Livid' Over VMware's Poaching Of Key Data Center Executive

VMware poached a veteran data center executive from Cisco Systems earlier this month, in the latest sign of the vendors' intensifying rivalry in the software-defined networking space.

Dominick Delfino, a 14-year Cisco veteran who was vice president of worldwide data center and virtualization systems engineering, joined VMware on Sept. 22.

Sources told CRN Cisco is none too pleased about VMware poaching one of its biggest data center rock stars.

"Cisco is livid about this," one source close to both vendors told CRN Friday.

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[Related: VMware NSX Vs. Cisco ACI: The Software-Defined Networking Face-Off]

Several Cisco partners described Delfino to CRN as a top-notch engineering leader who was very well respected inside the company and in the industry.

"It's a huge win for VMware to get him to lead some of their engineering team efforts," another source with knowledge of the matter told CRN.

Delfino hasn't yet updated his LinkedIn with his new VMware title, and VMware wasn't immediately available for comment. Cisco declined comment.

Network World, which broke the news of his joining VMware last Friday, said Delfino will be in charge of VMware's global systems engineering organization for networking.

Delfino played a huge role in bringing key Cisco products to market, including the Nexus 7000, 5000, 2000 and 1000v switches, and the MDS 9000 series of storage networking products, according to Network World.

Martin Casado, senior vice president of VMware’s networking and security business unit, welcomed Delfino aboard in a Sept. 19 tweet.

Now that it's public, a huge welcome to . I cannot wait to work together!

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Delfino started at Cisco in 2000, overseeing data center and virtualization systems Engineering for North America. He was promoted in 2013 to lead a team of more than 600 systems engineers around the world, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Prior to joining Cisco, Delfino spent nearly five years at Dimension Data as a lead systems architect, a role in which he oversaw systems, network and infrastructure design for enterprise and commercial customers, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Delfino's hiring is a big coup for VMware, which is locked in a bitter battle with Cisco -- its longtime industry ally -- in the software-defined networking market.

The vendors have different approaches to SDN, with VMware promoting a software-only approach with its NSX technology, and Cisco pushing a mix of software running on proprietary hardware with its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) offering.