CRN Exclusive: Ex-Cisco President Moore Talks About Why He Left, His New Roles With Hot Security Vendors And Being Disruptive

Moore Talks Past, Present And Future

Former Cisco presidents Gary Moore and Rob Lloyd were the first two top executives to leave the networking leader following the announced appointment of its new CEO Chuck Robbins. Moore, Cisco's first-ever chief operating officer, left the company after 14 years and later declined an advisory role at San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco.

"Whoever the winner was, whether it was an internal or external candidate, I knew my time was going to be up," Moore said in an interview with CRN.

Moore has since becomes a board member at a pair of security companies: vArmour, a data center security specialist based in Mountain View, Calif.; and Finjan, a Palo Alto, Calif-based global Web security company. Moore talked about his decision to leave Cisco, the internal candidates for CEO and his deep background in security that people don't know about.

Can you talk about your last role as COO of Cisco and your decision to leave Cisco?

When (former CEO John (Chambers) (pictured) asked me to be the first COO for Cisco, he basically moved everything in the company to me with the exception of product sales. We spent three hard years realigning, revamping and really doing a huge turnaround transition for Cisco.

When I found out I wasn't going to be a candidate for the CEO position, I committed to John and the board that I would help develop the internal candidates. I think the three candidates that were there had come a long way in the last several years. I moved engineering to [former president of development and sales] Rob . I got [former top services executive] Edzard [Overbeek] back from Asia where he ran the channels, etc. He was now running the services business at a time when services really needed to change.

All of those moves also gave Chuck an opportunity to move into Rob's old job [as senior vice president of worldwide operations] to show what he could do. Chuck's a former channel guy, so the channel loves him. I think the salesforce has a tremendous amount of respect for Chuck, and over the last year and a half, the rest of the company got to know Chuck better.

So it was time for you to go?

Whoever the winner was, whether it was an internal or external candidate, I knew my time was going to be up. My decision was: Do I stay and be an advisor in a role where I didn’t feel like I could have an impact, or be part of the real decision making?

The reason I joined (the vArmour and Finjian boards) was I knew I could get my hands dirty. They want to me to come in everyday if I'm willing to do that. So it was a logical decision to leave Cisco and I think it gave other people that reported to me big opportunities … to take on big chunks of what I did.

How do you view your 14 years at Cisco?

First and foremost, I love Cisco. I went into Cisco from a startup that Cisco had funded. I was asked to turn around a professional services business and then eventually run all our business.

I think channel partners would agree I changed the way we worked with partners and really shifted value back to them. I've very proud of what I did at Cisco from a services point of view. We were able to grow advanced services 12.1 percent every year for 10 years in a row and take it to a multi-billion (dollar) business. For every dollar we were generating, we were generating $4 to $7 for our partners.

Why take a deep dive into the security?

A lot of people don't know that, for most of my career, I was involved in security. I pulled together all of the security assets at Cisco, created the customer security and trust organization under John Stewart [senior vice president, chief security and trust officer]. I just felt the way security is going – the liability, the breaches that have happened publicly and so many (that aren't public) – this needed to be elevated in the company and John [Chambers] agreed and Cisco leaders agreed. So I've been deeply involved with cybersecurity for a long time.

Who do you see as leading the security market in 2015?

Obviously, Cisco is the leader relative to market share, but it's mainly firewall revenue and things they've brought in. Certainly Sourcefire, with their malware protection, was a huge add.

But I think the leaders are going to be the companies that can disrupt and that's what we're trying to do at Finjan and what vAmour has already done. They have a solution that's very different, scalable, very agile, very software oriented – it's not a piece of hardware. I can see a time where a typical firewall protecting from the outside in is not going to cut it. So I think the companies that are going to be successful - and the real leaders - are going to be the ones that understand that and can position themselves more broadly.

What companies are going to win in this fast-growing security market?

Most enterprise customers have 50-plus security products in their data center and networks, which is ridiculous. The cost of managing that alone [is huge]. I still believe that the biggest issue in security and security breaches is the lack of trained talent and the lack of people following process. So the processes has to change. The skillset has to get better. The tools have to get better and those are the companies that are going to win.

Why join two relatively smaller companies like vArmour and Finjan?

I wanted to do something disruptive.

I decided not to join super big boards. I wanted to join a small-cap company that was trying to change its business model, and that was Finjan. I also wanted to get into a startup that had real, solid potential and a different model that was going to be disruptive and where I could actually help. I found both of those and I'm very happy.

What is so special about vArmour and Finjan?

They bring a broader set of security capabilities to more than just cybersecurity, but to data protection, analytics, etc. Finjan will start more from a consulting end, a customer-engagement point of view.

vArmour is more broader, with a good software offering. They've operated in stealth mode for awhile, but they got some tremendous customers already.

They both bring a fresh look at the issues and a lot of energy, speed and agility, which is what a lot of customers are looking for. I also love both the CEOs. They're young, energetic and they have a real vision for where they want to go.

What's your advice for channel partners trying to start a security practice or grow its existing security abilities?

It's real easy to start a security practice and to hire a few people that know what they're doing in this space (and) who may be able to bring along a customer or two. But my advice would be: You got to pick an area that's underserved. You really have to spend some time understanding what customers are wanting and where the company really has a vision to go. It's a wonderful place for channel partners.

Both the companies I'm a board member on are thinking … how do we build out a channel that's very specific to what we're trying to get done? I think that's the way you scale.

Are you planning to join any other boards?

No. I'm not planning to do any others.