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Cisco Hires Ex-VMware Exec as Security Chief

Former VMware executive Tom Gillis has made his way back to Cisco, taking over as SVP and GM of the vendor’s Security Business Group just weeks after leaving VMware. Gillis had previously served as Cisco’s VP and GM of security technology group from 2007 to 2011.

Gillis joined VMware in 2018, eventually taking on the role of SVP and GM of the vendor’s Networking and Advanced Security Business Group. In that role, he recently oversaw the vendor’s integration of its Carbon Black business into its Networking and Security Business group to form its newly branded Networking and Advanced Security business.

Gillis departed the vendor last month along with several other top executives including Mark Lohmeyer, who was SVP and GM of VMware’s Cloud Infrastructure Business Group; and Ajay Patel, who was SVP and GM of Modern Apps at VMware. The departures came under the shadow of VMware’s impending acquisition by Broadcom.

Cisco and VMware are both top vendors in the networking and security markets. In an earlier interview, Gillis claimed VMware won the SDN war over Cisco.

“​​I think it may be time to say officially we’ve won the SDN war,” Gillis told SDxCentral at the time, referring to IDC’s market share data showing VMware NSX’s market share continued to grow while Cisco application-centric infrastructure (ACI)’s share has been declining for the last few years.

On the security side, Gillis led VMware to converge its networking and security services for hybrid and multi-cloud environments, and strengthen its endpoint security services including the introduction of Carbon Black XDR [extended detection and response] built on its endpoint detection and response (EDR) and Contexa threat intelligence capabilities.

As Cisco’s new security chief, Gillis will drive the networking and security giant’s security business strategy, including Cisco’s platform and holistic approach to security, and unifying the security product and go-to-market motions, Cisco told SDxCentral.

Cisco Reaffirms 2023 Security Strategy
Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins recently noted in an earnings call that the vendor was doubling down on its security business and moving “resources” into its “important” enterprise networking space and its growing security operations.

“We will be making significant investments in security and beefing up our team there and the capacity to continue to innovate there. Those are important areas,” Robbins said.

As part of its plans, Cisco’s former security chief Shaila Shankar took on the newly formed role of SVP of Security Business Group Engineering. Shankar previously headed Cisco’s cloud and network security team, and replaced Gee Rittenhouse in 2021 to become SVP and GM of the Security Business Group.

Cisco claims the security leadership changes will help the vendor keep security innovation as a top priority with strong leadership in engineering while solidifying the foundation of what Cisco built this past year and realigning the security group with the organization’s commitments. SDxCentral

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