HP Networking Head Mayer Takes CEO Spot At Ixia

Bethany Mayer, former head of Hewlett-Packard's networking division, has left the company for the top seat at network monitoring specialist Ixia.

Ixia last week named Mayer its new president, CEO and member of its board of directors. She had been with HP since 2010.

Mayer's move comes roughly six months after she was tapped to lead HP's new Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) group, focused on the service provider market. Prior to that, Mayer was senior vice president and general manager of HP's $2.5 billion networking division.

Related: HP's Q3: PCs, Servers, Networking Business Going Strong

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During her time at HP, Mayer was a pioneer of the company's software-defined networking and NFV strategies, helping to bring to market HP SDN solutions including its FlexFabric line of switches and the HP SDN App Store.

HP's networking unit, which saw sales shoot up 4 percent in HP's third quarter, grew for 12 consecutive quarters with Mayer at the helm.

HP said Saar Gillai, senior vice president and COO of HP Cloud, will take on Mayer's responsibilities in the NFV group.

Meanwhile, Antonio Neri, senior vice president and general manager of HP's server business, has assumed responsibility for HP's legacy networking unit.

John Barker, president and co-founder of Versatile Communications, a Marlborough, Mass.-based solution provider and HP partner, said he hopes some of the recent leadership changes within HP's networking unit don't mean HP is shifting its focus away from networking to double down on other areas such as servers or storage.

Barker noted that, in addition to Mayer's exit, Phil Castillo, former head of sales for HP's U.S. networking division, left the unit in March to head up sales for HP's Western U.S. Enterprise Group.

"If I had any concern, it's around the focus on networking, given the competitive nature of what's going on in the server space with Lenovo, Dell and Cisco and the battle for market share there," Barker told CRN. "I worry that, since [servers] are such a large part of HP's business, that they are taking their eye off the ball sometimes in the networking space."

Barker did say, however, that his HP networking business remains "steady," and that he is beginning to see customer interest in some of HP's SDN solutions.

HP, Palo Alto, Calif., told CRN in an emailed statement that it remains "fully committed" to both its NFV and legacy networking business.

"On the NFV front we have made significant progress, with 15 proof-of-concept projects with carriers around the world, five R&D labs to provide validation of our integrated solutions, and strong partnerships with Alcatel-Lucent, NEC and Nokia," said an HP spokesperson.

At Ixia, a Calabasas, Calif.-based networking vendor specializing in network testing and monitoring, Mayer will be tasked with shaping the company's efforts around networking trends such as SDN.

"We are delighted to appoint Bethany Mayer as Ixia's president and chief executive officer," said Errol Ginsberg, Ixia's chairman and acting chief executive officer, in a statement. "Today's networking trends are revolutionary, not evolutionary, and virtualization is playing a key role in the transformation of service provider and enterprise networks around the world. Therefore, it was paramount for Ixia to find a candidate intimately involved with these new networking technologies, and we believe Bethany is the ideal executive to build upon Ixia’s industry leading foundation."

Ginsberg had been acting as Ixia's interim CEO since the company's former CEO, Vic Alston, resigned in October 2013.