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Senior Cisco Executive Departs

Cisco's senior vice president of data center, switching and services becomes the third high-ranking executive to leave the company within the last 15 months.

data center networking

Ullal has been with Cisco for 15 years, most recently as senior vice president of data center, switching and services, running a portion of Cisco that raked in $12 billion last year. Overall, Ullal is responsible for roughly $10 billion in direct revenue and $15 billion in indirect revenue.

According to Cisco, John McCool, a member of Ullal's team, will take over her post as well as her spot on the nine-person development team that reports to Cisco president and CEO John Chambers. McCool will assume leadership of the data center, switching and services group reporting directly to Chambers in addition to his current role leading Cisco's campus switching systems technology group.

"With mixed feeling and much introspection I Have come to my decision to leave Cisco after 15 great and memorable years," Ullal wrote in a blog post. "My loyalty and affection to Cisco, CEO John Chambers and my teams made this a very difficult and lengthy decision process."

Ullal joined Cisco through its first acquisition in 1993, Crescendo Communications. When Ullal joined the now powerhouse Cisco was less than $1 billion in revenue with roughly 1,000 employees and s strong focus on network routing. Ullal has seen Cisco grow to nearly $40 billion in revenue and stretch well beyond the router into enterprise campus, data centers, branch offices, service providers, commercial and consumer markets.

For the last three years, Ullal has been Cisco's data center voice, detailing the vendor's Data Center 3.0 vision and earning Cisco deeper penetration in the data center market. Under her guidance, Cisco has generated 1,500 patents and developed a transformational strategy. She has championed a host of new products such as the VFrame, the new Nexus 5000/7000 data center switches based on the NX-OS software, Catalyst 4900 and Catalyst 6500 VSS, ACE and WAAS. Ullal has also been instrumental in enabling new forms of virtualization and data center security and has helped Cisco forge new partnerships and complete acquisitions; enabling Cisco to surpass 1 million 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports sold across switches and routers, a key milestone in data center 10 GigE adoptions.

Before taking the data center by storm Ullal was senior vice president in the security technology group and doubled Cisco's Self-Defending Networks portfolio to $2 billion and a market share more than 40 percent over three years. Before that, she was senior vice president of the optical networking group and served as co-leader of the Service Provider Business Council for key initiatives in high-end routing.

Ullal, early in her Cisco career, grew Cisco's Catalyst switching business from its start in 1993 to a $5 billion business in 2000, establishing it as the market leader. She has also initiated other strategic initiatives like unified communications, IP telephony, content networking and policy networking giving Cisco roughly 70 percent market share in switching and overseeing about 20 mergers and acquisitions for Cisco.

Ullal didn't provide details her next step and Cisco would not comment further on Ullal's departure.

"I am confident that I am passing the baton to some of the best engineering talent and general managers in the industry who will continue this journey we have begun," she wrote. "And I expect that Cisco will continue to innovate, capture growth opportunities and market share to meet our customers' needs for Cisco's Data Center 3.0 vision. It has been my privilege to lead this team and I have full faith in our future driving Cisco's vision for transforming the data center. As for the inevitable question of what I plan to do next. I hope to re-kindly passions for my next new gig this summer and make an informed decision later this year."

Ullal follows a recent string of high-ranking departures from Cisco. In December, chief development officer Charles "Charlie" Giancarlo left his post to pursue a position with Silver Lake, a private equity firm. Before Giancarlo, senior vice president Mike Volpi left Cisco in February 2007 and in June joined Internet television provider Joost as CEO.

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