Memo From Cisco to Exiting CFO: Avoid Amazon's Cloud

Exiting Cisco CFO Frank Calderoni.

Exiting Cisco CFO Frank Calderoni.

When Cisco Systems transitions its CFO post from Frank Calderoni to Kelly Kramer on January 1, 2015, Calderoni will exit the company with a golden parachute -- and a warning: Don't go near Amazon Web Services, the fast-growing cloud provider.

Details of Calderoni's separation agreement emerged in a recent SEC filing reviewed by After Nines Inc. After exiting the CFO post, Calderoni will remain an executive advisor to Cisco CEO John Chambers -- working at least 35 hours per month for the company. For that, Calderoni will be paid $25,000 per month in base salary while also receiving a range of Executive Incentive Plan perks and bonuses. The executive advisor post is expected to continue through Oct. 1, 2015.

Don't Fall for Amazon

During the transition period, Calderoni needs written permission from Chambers to work for a range of hardware or software companies -- including names like Alcatel-Lucent, Dell, Extreme Networks Juniper and Symantec. Take a closer look, and you'll also notice Amazon Web Services on the non-compete list. Translation: Cisco is seriously concerned about Amazon's growing cloud momentum, which potentially undermines Cisco's own Intercloud strategy.

On a somewhat related note, Chambers has expressed concern about so-called white box servers -- no-name x86 systems that cloud providers use for their infrastructure. The white box offerings potentially harm Cisco's Unified Computing strategy.

Other Clouds Are Fair Game

Also of interest: Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and IBM SoftLayer are not listed in the Cisco-Calderoni non-compete document. That's sort of ironic, considering Microsoft and IBM, in particular, seem to be gaining rapid cloud momentum that could disrupt traditional network and data center build-outs.

My spin: Cisco sees Amazon as the prime IT industry disrupter. It's hard to imagine Calderoni dialing Chambers for permission to go work at AWS. On the flip side, it's hard to imagine Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paying executive recruits Cisco-type executive salaries...

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