Dell Hires Cisco Exec to Lead Its Networking Business

Dell's hiring of Cisco executive Dario Zamarian is the latest indication of how serious Dell is in becoming an IT solutions provider, competing against HP, IBM and others.

Dell has tapped a Cisco Systems executive to run its networking business.

Dario Zamarian, who was Cisco's vice president of systems and network management, will become Dell's vice president and general manager of its networking platform.

The move shows Dell's interest in the networking side of its business, which is growing in importance as the PC maker tries to become more of an IT solutions vendor. Zamarian will become the first Dell vice president dedicated to the networking unit, which until now has come under the purview of Darren Thomas, vice president and general manager of Dell's storage business. Thomas has been overseeing both storage and networking at the company, and will continue to run the storage business as Zamarian comes on board.

Networking has traditionally has not been a focus of Dell's, but the technology is rising in profile as Dell-like other vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Oracle and IBM-look to play a larger role in all parts of the data center. Technology trends such as virtualization and cloud computing are helping fuel the trend toward data center solutions.

Dell is addressing the networking space through a combination of partnerships and home-grown technologies. The company sells its own PowerConnect switches and gateways.

Dell officials essentially announced their intentions to jump into the data center solutions fray against the likes of HP, Cisco and IBM in September 2009 when they announced a deal with Brocade to create its Efficient Enterprise initiative, a unified data center solution.

A month later, Dell and Juniper announced a partnership in which Dell will resell routers, switches, gateways and software from Juniper. In addition, the two companies are jointly working on new products to enable businesses to better use virtualization technology in their data centers.

In a deal announced in August, officials with Dell said they will sell Aruba Networks' wireless networking solutions under the Dell PowerConnect W-Series. Dell also resells Cisco networking equipment and works with Xsigo on virtual server networking products.

Dell has a strong history in PCs and servers, but now is looking to expand its overall data center presence, particularly in storage and networking. The storage area has been a high-profile space of Dell of late, particularly given its highly public bidding contest with HP over 3Par, a struggle HP eventually won.

The addition of Zamarian will help the company bulk up its networking portfolio. He is only the latest recent executive to move from Cisco to a competitor. Video communications vendor Polycom announced Sept. 20 that it had lured away Joseph Burton, former CTO of UC (unified communications) business to become CTO, chief strategist and senior vice president of Polycom. The move comes as Polycom is looking to become a larger player in the rapidly growing UC space.