FRAMINGHAM (08/01/2000) - In the end, it was the travel that prompted Selby Wellman to decide to leave Cisco Systems Inc. on Aug. 1.
"I have reached a point in my life where I really, really don't want to live on airplanes anymore," Wellman says. "I've been doing it for 30 years now."
The other reason: Cisco has locked up the SNA-to-IP migration market, so much so that Cisco transformed its Research Triangle Park, N.C., facility from headquarters for its IBM Corp. Interworks business unit to a test bed for service provider products and strategies.
It was time for Wellman to take the "John Elway Exit," as he says.
"When you make that decision that you want to change your life and spend more time with your family and other things, the best time to make it is when you're on top," Wellman says.
That he is. Under Wellman's leadership, Cisco's Interworks business unit outmaneuvered IBM to become the leading vendor of products that connect IBM SNA networks to IP networks, including the Internet. Cisco says it holds an 80% share of this market, which has fully matured from an infrastructure standpoint, Wellman says.
Cisco is so successful in this market that IBM subsequently sold its switching and routing assets to Cisco and entered into an agreement with the company to service Cisco accounts. Cisco, meanwhile, agreed to buy parts and components from IBM for 5 years under the $2 billion deal.
Without divulging numbers, Wellman says the Cisco/IBM alliance is exceeding expectations.
So for all intents and purposes, the SNA-to-IP migration game is over. That's why earlier this year, Wellman - who also was site executive for Cisco's RTP facility - quietly disbanded the Interworks business unit and reassigned RTP engineers and marketing staffers to mobile wireless, high-end router ASIC development, and other enterprise and service provider projects.
The Interworks business unit has been subsumed into Cisco's Enterprise line of business and is now in "sustained maintenance" mode. That means staffers are working on updates and incremental enhancements to installed products, not developing or investing heavily in major new product releases.
Cisco also credits Wellman with attracting 2,500 employees to Cisco's RTP site from its groundbreaking in 1995.
"It's mission accomplished for what I was hired to do, absolutely," Wellman says.
Cisco CEO John Chambers offered Wellman the opportunity to head up another multiyear project at Cisco, but Wellman declined.
"John wanted me to take on other things but that would entail probably signing up for another 2 to 3 years and then getting on airplanes again, and I just didn't want to do it," he says. Wellman would not disclose what that new mission is.
Wellman says he'll now join an investment firm and advise them on technology investments. He would not name the firm but said he's negotiating with them and hopes to join them in September.
Wellman also will sit on a few company boards.
"It's just been a tremendous, tremendous run here at Cisco," Wellman says. "I have to leave a company that's still on a roll but every now and then you've got to put your personal life first."
Ed Carney, Cisco's vice president of engineering for its Networked Solutions Integration Test Engineering (NSITE) laboratory will relieve Wellman from his position of RTP site executive. The NSITE lab supports research and development in Cisco's Service Provider line of business.
Carney's new role will be to continue to grow RTP to a 4,000 employee facility by 2002. He will maintain NSITE responsibilities, which include supervision of over 200 engineers in North Carolina, Europe and in the Asia Pacific Region, in addition to becoming RTP site executive.
Prior to joining Cisco in 1996, Carney worked for IBM for 15 years, most recently in LaGaude, France, as the Director of engineering and operations for the IBM Global Network