Cisco CTO Leaving As Engineering Exodus Continues

After only 15 months, Cisco's top technologist and cloud executive, Zorawar Biri Singh, is leaving the networking giant in the midst of a major engineering reorganization.

Cisco confirmed to CRN that Singh, Cisco's CTO and senior vice president of Cloud Services and Platforms, is leaving due to the company's evolving engineering strategy.

"Earlier this week, we announced to employees an updated alignment of our engineering teams. We believe these changes will help us simplify our development efforts and accelerate delivery of value for our customers. As a result of these changes, Zorawar Biri Singh will leave Cisco at the end of October," a Cisco spokesperson wrote to CRN in an emailed statement.

[Related: CloudGenix CEO Blasts Cisco And Riverbed's SD-WAN Solution; Says WAN Optimization Market Is 'Dead']

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Singh is the latest of several Cisco leaders who have departed the company this year; the list includes Cisco's enterprise engineering leader Robert Soderbery; longtime networking visionary Pankaj Patel; and engineer veterans Soni Jiandani, Mario Mazzola, Prem Jaim and Luca Cafiero.

Singh was hired by Cisco on the first day CEO Chuck Robbins took the helm in July 2015, replacing the company's popular CTO, Padmasree Warrior.

His departure comes as Cisco is restructuring its entire 25,000-member engineering team along with Cisco's Intercloud strategy. In August, the network leader also unveiled an internal restructuring plan in an effort to invest in priority areas such as security and Internet of Things that includes the elimination of up to 5,500 positions.

Partners said Cisco's cloud strategy under Singh's leadership wasn't clear and failed to resonate with the channel.

"Frankly, I never understood his cloud strategy," said one top executive from a solution provider and Cisco Gold partner.

Earlier this year, Cisco CTO Zorawar Biri Singh told CRN that the networking giant's future in the data center involves containers.

"When he was talking about containers and his roadmap [at Cisco Live this year] it never really resonated with us," said another top executive from a solution provider on CRN's 2016 Solution Provider 500 list. "Him leaving means there was an architectural or technology difference looking at their roadmap … I'm very interested to see who they pick to replace him."

Cisco said they have yet to refill Singh's position. "As part of this simplification of development efforts, a number of engineering leaders -- who previously reported to Singh -- will now report to David Goeckeler and Rowan Trollope," said Cisco.

Singh is responsible for Cisco's overall technology strategy and the alignment of its architecture and product portfolio. Prior to Cisco, Singh spent two years at HP as senior vice president and general manager for HP Cloud. He was also vice president of IBM's cloud computing business from 2008 to 2011.

Mont Phelps, CEO of NWN, No. 68 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list and a Cisco Gold partner, said he still has full confidence in CEO Robbins, and Cisco's future.

"With that tenure, it's just an example that he didn't fit," said Phelps. "At this point there's no reason not to trust Chuck and his view of what it takes to be successful as they transition their business model – he's made a lot of bold moves … Cisco is a large company with a very deep bench."