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Ex-Sun cloud CTO named chief Cisco fluffer

'Make the network more programmable'

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Structure 2010 Cisco Systems has appointed Sun Microsysems' former cloud computing CTO to unify and lead a push into the clouds.

Lew Tucker has been hired to become Cisco's own first ever cloud computing chief technology officer, with a remit of evolving the network giant's strategy by working across "different functions".

Tucker said he was attracted to Cisco by its Unified Computing push and virtualization. "The role is to bring together the various efforts," Tucker told The Reg at Structure 2010 in San Francisco, California.

He is reporting into the senior vice president of and general manager of Cisco's service provider group Tony Bates but – as yet – does not have a team of people to help him execute.

Tucker said he didn't know whether his hire, revealed at Structure, preempted a move by Cisco to become a provider of hosted cloud services. That was the late-in-the-day strategy being pushed by Tucker's former employer, Sun.

Instead, it sounds like Cisco will be following in the footsteps of Oracle, who bought Sun and has determined it's better to sell systems to people that want to build clouds rather than provide a cloud.

Tucker said he believes there's a need to "make the network more programmable," and to put the idea of the network back at the center of the internet. He believes developers need to work with APIs for network services such as load balancing and virtual machines.

He said he didn't know whether his role would be to make networking APIs in Cisco's products more available to developers. The mantra at Sun was to win developers through code giveaways, projects, and programs that (theoretically) would have them building applications for the company's underlying platform, whether that platform was hardware, Java, or cloud.

Tucker left Sun soon after the Oracle acquisition closed – in February. As cloud CTO, Tucker had been charged with leading the technology efforts building the hosted platform that was aborted by Oracle. He assumed the role following a late-in-the day re-organization by Sun to contain losses. Before CTO of Sun's cloud, Tucker helped create Salesforce.com's AppExchange market place, which now has nearly 1,000 apps for download.

Tucker is certainly in a better position at Cisco compared to Sun. Cisco’s better financed, it's growing, and it has a fuller set of critical products in diverse markets than Sun that was struggling to keep up.

The question is whether Cisco suffers from having too many products and whether Tucker can realistically pull things together across such a broad portfolio. Also in question is whether software developers will be wooed by yet another hardware provider after their love for the cloud. ®

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