Cisco adds two CEOs to board of directors in cloud, green push

Summary:Cisco expands its board by two places and includes Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff in one of the vacancies, and a green energy advocate. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Networking giant Cisco has added two more board members to its roster: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and former under-secretary of energy at the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Kristina Johnson.

In doing so, it's pushed its board membership up to 14, along with former Yahoo boss Carol Bartz. The appointments were effective on August 1.

The choices of board appointments could signal a few things.

Cisco's tumbled more than 10 percent this year alone, and despite a number of high-profile acquisitions, it still has a way to go until it can recoup its losses and regain competitive traction. The firm bought London-based NDS for $5 billion earlier this year following its approval by EU regulators. NDS, among other things, now gives Cisco a push into video conferencing and content delivery cloud situation -- something it's wanted for a while.

But why Salesforce's Benioff?

Salesforce and Cisco aren't competitors, which already takes away a lot of the stress. While Salesforce lives in the cloud, Cisco actively builds the cloud, and continues to develop its technologies through acquisitions and research and development.

"Marc has changed the face of technology through his bold ideas around cloud computing and the social enterprise," Cisco chief executive John Chambers said in a statement today.

With Benioff's knowledge of social enterprise and good head-screwed-on sense of business, there could be hope that Benioff will shake up the new implemented strategy enough to focus on Cisco's new push into cloud venture.

AllThingsD said -- in jest -- noted that Chambers could mention the word "cloud" a good 200 times in five minutes. Cisco's cloud move means a lot to the company, and wants to get it right first time. 

Why a green energy advocate? That one's easy: the cloud runs in datacenters, and most are far from clean. Kristina Johnson was under-secretary of energy in the Obama administration; lasting only a year to take the top spot at Enduring Hydro, a green energy company.

Greenpeace reported that Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft continue to buy power regardless of source -- including "dirty" fuels such as coal -- while Yahoo and Google seek the best alternatives for green energy as possible. However, Salesforce didn't come off all that badly, even if its "clean energy index" was the lowest of the fifteen companies listed.

It remains a modestly-sized firm in comparison to the other giants on the list, and green clearly remains less of a focus for now. Cisco, naturally, wasn't mentioned.

At least we can say the two new appointees come together in harmony, even if the two may not see eye-to-eye on green matters.

Topics: Salesforce.com, Cisco, Tech Industry

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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