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Chuck Robbins Day One: Cisco Taps Former HP Cloud Exec As CTO

Cisco's new CEO, Chuck Robbins, continues the networking giant's cloud and digital commitment with the hiring of industry veterans Zorawar Biri Singh as its new CTO and Kevin Bandy as its new chief digital officer.

On his first day as CEO of Cisco Systems, Chuck Robbins hired Hewlett-Packard's former top cloud executive, Zorawar Biri Singh, as its new senior vice president and CTO.

"Today is a new day for all of us at Cisco, and I could not be more excited for our future," said Robbins in a blog post Monday. "Biri will further our success at anticipating customer and industry transitions, and define the technology strategy to stay ahead of the market."

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant also revealed Monday the hiring of Kevin Bandy as its new Chief Digital Officer to help define Cisco's next-generation digital strategy. Bandy previously was senior vice president of enterprise transformation at Salesforce.com.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: New Cisco Channel Chief Says 'Change Is In Our Partners' Best Interest']

"[Bandy] will work with teams across Cisco to design a comprehensive vision for us, and our customers, to capture the true value of digitization by leveraging Cisco's broad portfolio of solutions and services," wrote Robbins.

Kent MacDonald, vice president of converged infrastructure and network services at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based solution provider that partners with Cisco and HP, said Cisco nabbing former top executives from HP and Salesforce.com proves that industry leaders believe the networking giant's strategy and road map are on the right course as the IT industry transitions.

"To see leaders from the competition move to Cisco, that's another validation that Cisco has got the right vision and is committed to making the right investments going forward," said MacDonald. "For Chuck to make those investments day one tells me that he's very much about how [to] go forward as an organization, which I'm glad to see. … In Chuck I trust."

Singh spent two years leading HP's cloud strategy as senior vice president and general manager of the HP cloud business overseeing the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company's global cloud portfolio and open-source efforts before leaving in 2013. Prior to HP, he worked at IBM as vice president of cloud computing.

The two new hires come after a slew of top veteran executives announced their departure from Cisco in recent months including highly popular CTO Padmasree Warrior; Rob Lloyd, president, development and sales; and global channel chief Bruce Klein.

The new executive regime changes came after longtime Cisco CEO John Chambers announced in May that Robbins was unanimously selected by Cisco's board of directors to replace him. Although Robbins has been making key executive decisions leading up to his new role, the news of the two new hires was his first official announcement as CEO.

"With the addition of Biri and Kevin, I believe we have the best, and most passionate, leadership team in the industry," wrote Robbins.


Robbins said data will be the most strategic asset in the new digital world and the ability to secure, aggregate, automate and draw insights from the data in a timely manner will ultimately define success.

"It's the whole [Internet of Things], which I think the digital strategy falls into," said Long View Systems' MacDonald. "They continue to make bets in the future and I think bringing these folks in is validating that they're serious about being the leader in the technology transformation."

Robbins is a 17-year Cisco veteran and the former U.S. channel chief who led the company's global sales team as senior vice president of worldwide operations. Chambers, 65, was the CEO for the past 20 years, and will continue to serve as chairman of the Cisco board of directors.

PUBLISHED JULY 27, 2015

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