Cisco IoT Leader Jumps Ship To Microsoft

Tony Shakib, one of Cisco Systems' Internet of Things leaders and engineers, has jumped ship to lead Microsoft's IoT business.

Shakib was vice president of Cisco's Internet of Everything Vertical Solutions Engineering organization, responsible for advancing the company's IoT platforms and helping Cisco and its channel partners sell IoT in specific verticals. For the past three years, he led Cisco’s IoT architecture and engineering effort to create customer prototypes, pilots and Cisco validated solutions, according to his Cisco bio.

After a seven-year stint at the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant, Shakib has taken the role of general manager of Microsoft's IoT and Intelligent Cloud business, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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Cisco confirmed that Shakib is no longer with the company but declined to provide any details regarding who would replace him or if it was looking to fill the position.

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., did not respond to a request for comment by press etime.

Shakib is just one of many top Cisco engineers who have left the company since it launched a massive engineering restructuring effort in March. Prominent technology leaders who have departed include Cisco's chief technology officer, Zorawar Biri Singh; Robert Soderbery, Cisco's enterprise engineering leader who helped spearhead the company's Digital Network Architecture; and longtime Cisco technology innovator Pankaj Patel.

One CTO from a solution provider who is a Cisco Gold partner said although Shakib was an innovator for Cisco's IoT technology, the networking leader has a deep bench of talent.

"They have lost some recognizable engineers recently, but they have a deep bench," said the CTO, who asked not to be named. "Shakib looks like he was a big contributor for their IoT or [Internet of Everything] strategy and how partners take Cisco IoT to market. … So there might be a little speed bump when replacing him."

Shakib, named in CRN's 2016 100 People You Don't Know But Should list, recently attended an IoT Roundtable hosted by CRN where he said solution providers should specialize in specific verticals.

"Some [solution providers] choose to only go in certain verticals," said Shakib, when discussing IoT opportunities for channel partners. "Some of them have stronger relationships in health care, so they focus on that, some of them are transportation, some of them are government, or military … you need to have the vertical expertise."

Shakib said Cisco's approach to IoT is to build horizontally, but go to market vertically. "The customers only understand things from their vertical," he said. "IoT is not about technology, and it's not so much about the internet, it's more about the things that the different customers own. Our approach has been to try and build horizontal platforms as much as possible."

Prior to Cisco, Shakib was CEO of wireless networking specialist Zensys, which was acquired by Sigma Designs in 2008, and was a top executive at Nortel for nearly two decades.

Cisco's overall IoT business is led by Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of the company's IoT and Applications business.