by Mike Robuck  | SDX Central | 


Charles Giancarlo hasn’t looked in the rear-view mirror since he left as Cisco’s No. 2 man in 2007. Back then Giancarlo was seen as heir apparent to Cisco CEO John Chambers, but Chambers didn’t officially retire until this summer.

These days, Giancarlo sits on numerous boards — including that of Arista Networks, which is in a legal dustup up with Cisco — and has founded several companies. He was early into the SDN game as an angel investor in Big Switch Networks. Most recently, SD-WAN startup Viptela announced that Giancarlo joined its board of advisors.

Giancarlo brings a long list of achievements and executive experience to Viptela’s board, including his work at Cisco as executive vice president, CTO, and chief development officer from 1993 through 2007. His team created the first IP telephone system and telepresence system and, in 1999, the first Wi-Fi product ever sold.

From 2008 to 2013, he was a managing director of private equity firm Silver Lakeand is currently a senior advisor. He’s also chairman of the board at Avaya and a board director for Accenture.

Giancarlo offered up his thoughts on SD-WAN, SDN and NFV during a recent interview with SDxCentral.

There seem to be a lot of companies in the SD-WAN space. Why did you choose to join Viptela’s advisory board? 

One [reason] is that I really like the management and engineering team. That goes a long way with me. They’re extraordinarily talented, and I think they understand the business quite well. Two, their solution, I think, really displays a strong understanding of enterprise customers and what they’re looking for in a next-generation WAN access solution for their branch offices. Those include the need for security and privacy, the ability to use lower-cost Internet pathways to the current infrastructure, and the need to have multiple methodologies for backup in case primary lines fail, etc. I think they’ve done a really good job of understanding that and converting it into a solution.

Cisco recently posted an SD-WAN bill of rights. Do we need that, or will this sort itself out in the market?

I think it sorts itself out in the market. I think in the SD-WAN space, the technology still has a lot of unknowns, and it has a lot of opportunity for differentiation and change in the market. [Read more at SDX Central: Q&A: Charles Giancarlo on the State of SD-WAN & SDN].