Cracks start to appear in the 3-year-old VCE data center coalition between Cisco, EMC and VMware. VMware buys network virtualization start-up Nicira for $1.26 billion, ushering VMware into software-defined networking for the data center, and increasing competition and straining relations with longtime partner Cisco. The acquisition came a mere five weeks after Cisco rolled out its own Cisco ONE programmability strategy. Reports surfaced that VMware even outbid Cisco for Nicira. And later, EMC would line up Lenovo as a server partner, putting additional pressure on Cisco as a server partner in the VCE coalition and inviting additional scrutiny of the stability of VCE as data center giants look to own and offer a complete IT stack.
Cisco kills its Application Control Engine (ACE) application acceleration product after years of beat down from competitors F5 and Citrix, and loss of over half of its market share since 2008. Several competitors offer trade-in programs to entice ACE customers, and Cisco ultimately announces a reference sale agreement with Citrix to fill the ACE-in-the-hole with Citrix NetScaler for cloud-based application performance requirements.
Cisco CEO John Chambers hints at retirement and possible successors. Chambers suggests his time might be up in two to four years, and that 10 possible successors from within the company could replace him, including Rob Lloyd, executive vice president of worldwide operations; Chuck Robbins, senior vice president of the Americas; Edzard Overbeek, senior vice president of global services; and COO Gary Moore, who would assume leadership of Cisco if Chambers gets "hit by a bus." Later, Moore and Lloyd are named co-presidents of the company, perhaps an indication of the succession order.