Cisco board adds SaaS-man to help it suss subscriptions

Former Adobe CFO Mark Garrett also sits on board of subs-happy Pure Storage

Cisco’s tapped one of the few software vendors that has made a thorough and successful transition to software-as-a-service by appointing Mark Garrett, a former Adobe executive veep and chief financial officer to its board of directors.

The Register’s focuses on security and infrastructure mean we don’t often consider Adobe for reasons beyond the miserable state of security in its Flash and Acrobat products. But the company is regarded as having quickly and painlessly moved its Creative Suite from on-premises software to a subscription model, and to have created new SaaS businesses too.

Such transitions create all sorts of fun problems for accountants because when buyers acquire software licenses, they pay for them up front and a vendor has use of the money for the duration of the licence. Subscriptions create lovely streams of future revenue, but can mean there’s less cash to hand. Some earnings calls The Register’s tuned into over the year have mentioned that the move from licences to subscriptions effectively knocks a point or two off annual revenue growth.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins hailed Garrett’s experience at this sort of thing in the announcement of his appointment.

“Mark has lived the critical transformation and transition to the cloud that technology companies require to continue growing and evolving,” Robbins said. “I'm looking forward to his many contributions as we continue to make progress in our transition to drive more subscriptions and recurring revenue."

Garret’s a former CFO of EMC’s software group and sits on the boards of GoDaddy Inc. and Pure Storage, Inc. The latter has successfully pursued a subscription model for hardware, further emphasising his expertise.

Appointing Garret is one of many recent actions Cisco’s taken towards being more SaaS-y. In recent weeks the company has added SaaS options for its Tetration analytics wares, started selling disaggregated switching and routing software and signalled a return to direct online sales. ®

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