While Interop’s not the most nuts-and-bolts conference out there, human stories still tend to take a back seat behind speed stats and deployment breakdowns (on a good day) or buzzy cloud terms (on an average day). Still, it was hard to miss out on one human story breaking at the conference: David Yen, Juniper’s QFabric architect and previously scheduled to be its Interop keynoter, jumped ship to Cisco just before the conference. It was so last minute that all of the printed programs still listed Yen as the speaker.
Michael Kerner’s take sums up what a lot of people were thinking: Juniper’s suffered a serious blow, and Cisco’s likely to be able to take his knowledge and rapidly iterate their own answer to QFabric. Shamus McGillicuddy at SearchNetworking got a more nuanced view from Tom Nolle:
Still, some analysts believe Yen’s departure is more of a gain for Cisco than a loss for Juniper.
“I know and respect David, but Pradeep [Sindu, Juniper CTO] has had the guiding role in Juniper’s activities, especially QFabric,” said Tom Nolle, president of research firm CIMI Corporation. “The underlying semiconductor chipset has long been completed and there is not likely going to be an interruption on the QFabric release.”
For Cisco, however, Yen’s deep technology background sends an important message that the company will better focus on tech strategy.
It’s unlikely Yen will bring any Juniper trade secrets Cisco’s way – even if Cisco’s architecture could support whatever technical knowledge he’d bring over, the risk of a crippling lawsuit would be ever present - but he brings something much more valuable and needed by Cisco right now: The ability to turn things around. After John Chambers’ humbling admission that Cisco has been stumbling, it makes sense to bring in a veteran who, in just three years, dramatically raised Juniper’s profile and technical execution, and who had previously helped guide Sun into becoming a respectable enterprise service company.
With Juniper’s QFabric gaining ground and Cisco’s determination to refocus on its core enterprise customers, it looks like HP got its wish for more competition.