Avaya names Kevin Kennedy new CEO

Former Cisco exec and optical firm CEO takes over in January

Avaya has named a new president and CEO: Kevin Kennedy, currently the CEO of JDS Uniphase, makers of optical communications hardware.

Kennedy will take over Avaya, which is primarily focused on enterprise communications software, in early January, replacing interim CEO Charles Giancarlo who came on board earlier this year when Lou D'Ambrosio left for medical reasons.

Kennedy and Giancarlo spent time together in the '90s working together as Cisco executives, with Kennedy leaving the company in 2001. Giancarlo hung on until 2007.

Kennedy announced he would be leaving JDS Uniphase during the company's quarterly earnings meeting Wednesday at which he also announced 400 layoffs and shutting down seven sites. He also predicted revenue would drop by the end of next quarter.

In its analyst meeting earlier this month, Giancarlo described Avaya as being in the midst of an overhaul to correct basic internal and external business systems to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. He said those corrections will be in place by the end of next year and that 2010 will mark a new phase for the company. Giancarlo also discussed application server and economic opportunities for Avaya in an interview last month.

As for Kennedy, he has also served as COO of messaging-software vendor Openwave Systems, and as a senior vice president at Cisco, where he was in charge of service provider business and software technologies. He also spent 17 years working at Bell Laboratories where he developed products including modems, PBXs, FDDI switches and a voice-response system.

He also sits on the boards of JDS Uniphase, Polycom and LKA-Tencor. In addition, he is on the board of regents for Loyola Marymount University. Kennedy has a B.S. from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, both in engineering.

Giancarlo will remain on the Avaya board of directors after Kennedy takes over as CEO.

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