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VMware Nabs Cisco Sales Leader To Boost NSX, Security

‘This is good news for VMware, not so much Cisco, obviously. I think this is a smart, strategic hire by [VMware] and was one that well thought-out,’ says one Cisco Gold partner executive.

VMware has hired longtime Cisco sales veteran Tom Koppelman as its new worldwide sales leader for networking and security solutions in a move to boost the virtualization star’s market share in network and security led by its growing NSX portfolio.

Koppelman spent 17 years at Cisco holding various top executive sales roles focused on key areas for Cisco including enterprise networking, security, software, collaboration, data center and “mass scale infrastructure,” said VMware in a statement to CRN. Most recently, Koppelman was vice president of Americas Architecture Sales for Cisco leading around 1,000 technical sellers and engineers, while also helping the networking giant through market transitions.

One top executive from a solution provider, a Cisco Gold partner, said hiring Koppelman is a “smart, strategic” play by VMware to gain better insight on Cisco’s networking and security roadmap as it relates to competition with VMware’s NSX product suite.

“I’ve spoken and listened to Tom many times before during events like Cisco Live. He knows a whole lot about Cisco’s product strategy and go-to-market and even big upcoming transitions their making,” said the Cisco Gold partner executive who declined to be named. “This is good news for VMware, not so much Cisco, obviously. I think this is a smart, strategic hire by [VMware] and was one that well thought-out.”

[Related: Dell’s VMware Spin-Off Will ‘Unleash’ Their Full Potential: Partners]

VMware told CRN that Koppelman, VMware’s new vice president of worldwide Networking and Security Solution Sales, helped Cisco deliver $21 billion in annual product sales and through key market transitions over his tenure.

“During his 17 years at Cisco, he led his team through strategic market transitions, successfully launched critical new solutions and managed acquisitions to help deliver $21B in annual product sales. He was instrumental in leading the transformation of their go-to-market approach for the product sales specialists,” said VMware. “Tom brings extensive leadership experience and deep knowledge of networking and security, foundational to successfully leading this strategic part of our business.”

VMware has been investing heavily in expanding its NSX networking and security capabilities, including last year’s launch of a new NSX Service-Defined Firewall. VMware’s NSX suite includes everything from NSX Data Center and NSX Cloud to NSX Advanced Threat Prevention and NSX Network Detection and Response.

“NSX has been, and still plays a big role in VMware’s strategy. We see it in the [sales] field often in our customers who have both Cisco and non-Cisco environments,” said the Cisco Partner executive. “Having Tom now on the VMware team I’m sure will be beneficial for them.”

During VMware’s most recent fourth fiscal quarter earnings call, Raghu Raguram, VMware’s chief operating officer of products and cloud services, said NSX will continue to play a critical role at VMware on various technical fronts, including hybrid cloud.

“We greatly expanded our NSX portfolio that offers a complete set of Layer 2 to Layer 7 services and software, notable among them [is] our load balancing capability and our advanced threat protection suite that we introduced for IDS, IPS, and East-West security and, of course, our [SD-WAN] VeloCloud. All of those businesses did really well and we are pleased with the growth of those businesses. So that‘s the one aspect of the NSX growth,” said Raguram. “The other aspect of NSX growth is NSX is also becoming the underlying network for modern applications and container workloads, and those use cases did really well for NSX. And then last but not the least, increasingly, NSX is part of our cloud solutions, and we had some benefit there as well.”

At Cisco, Koppelman also played a large role in several Cisco acquisitions as well as new software, services and hardware solutions, according to his LinkedIn profile. On Twitter today, Koppelman said he will hit the ground running at VMware to help customers build their digital foundation to run any application on any cloud.

Koppelman could not be reached by press time. Cisco did not respond to comment on who will replace Koppelman.

Sanjay Poonen, VMware’s global chief operating officer of customer operations, said the hiring of Koppelman will help take VMware ‘higher in all things networking and security.”

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