CRN Exclusive: Cisco's Global Service Provider Leader Leaving, Will Be Replaced By Top Enterprise Exec

The leader of Cisco Systems' global service provider business, Nick Adamo, is leaving after a 21-year stint with the networking giant, CRN has learned.

Adamo, senior vice president of Cisco's global service provider practice, leads global sales, service delivery and development for the business and is responsible for $12.4 billion in annual sales and 3,000 employees, according to his Cisco bio.

Adamo’s departure is part of a larger executive shakeup in Cisco’s service provider segment, say channel partners.

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"A complete reorganization of the entire spectrum on how we deliver I think is being discussed," said Matt Duncan, director of GDT Labs at General Datatech, a top Cisco Gold partner ranked No. 45 on the 2015 CRN Solution Provider 500 list. "When you look at that service provider market, it's not as clear as it used to be. … It's not surprising they’re reshaping what they think it needs to look like in this new software-defined landscape."

Adamo will remain with Cisco until the end of 2016, CRN learned, and will be replaced by Woody Sessoms, currently senior vice president of Cisco's global enterprise theater and enterprise business segment.

Sessoms, who joined Cisco in 1994, is responsible for the development of strategy, execution and thought leadership around Cisco’s largest global enterprise customers and the enterprise solutions it brings to market.

Cisco did not reply to a request for comment on the overall strategy by press time but confirmed to CRN that a top executive instrumental in its service provider business, Yoav Samet, had recently left the company after 14 years. Samet, vice president of Cisco's corporate development, led Cisco's corporate development activities, including its service provider business, as well as being responsible for driving acquisitions and venture capital investments for its service provider organization, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Partners say Cisco, San Jose, Calif., is starting to shift its service provider sales motion to a more enterprise approach, recognizing the need to focus on a new way of delivering services that complements what cloud-focused organizations are seeking.

Appointing Sessoms from the enterprise side of the business makes sense as service providers are becoming more cloud- and data center-focused, according to General Datatech’s Duncan.

"A lot of these cloud companies and cloud services organizations are more like enterprises to Cisco than they are service provider, at least in how they buy and sell and interact in that space," said Duncan. "Most of them aren't big enough to buy direct, which is where Cisco does a lot of that work for the big providers."

Partners say they expected an executive reorganization for Cisco's service provider business following the major reorganization in its engineering business -- which spans all of its portfolios -- in March, which included the exit of Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president of Cisco's service provider business. Ahuja, who spent 18 years at the company, was responsible for developing and managing service provider strategy and portfolio within Cisco's development organization.

"It has become very clear that we must be organized to best align to our customers’ needs within this ever-changing environment," wrote Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins in a memo to employees in March.

Cisco in March placed all service provider divisions under one umbrella. Yvette Kanouff, senior vice president and general manager for Cisco's cloud solutions, now leads an organization that includes the service provider segment, service provider cloud, mobility, and service provider video software and solutions units.

Jamie Shepard, senior vice president for health care and strategy at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and longtime Cisco partner, said Cisco placing enterprise or cloud executives into top service provider positions is a normal evolution as more offerings become cloud-based.

"An enterprise sales campaign should be considered a strategic business-oriented sales campaign," said Shepard, in an email. "Each customer's definition of cloud computing is different and needs to be fully vetted out and defined."

During Cisco's third fiscal quarter earnings this month, the company reported that revenue from its service provider business remained flat year over year, although it did not provide a figure. Cisco's service provider video business grew 18 percent to $468 million for the quarter compared with the same period a year ago.