Infinera stacks leadership team with former Cisco, Dell execs

Infinera sought to strengthen its position in open optical networking, adding four new executives to its leadership team including the former head of product management for Cisco’s optical transport business.

Rob Shore, Infinera's SVP of Marketing, told Fierce all four are filling newly created positions as the company adopts a new organizational structure to help "maximize the reach and impact of our embedded optical engines and optimize the design of our systems solutions to address the growing market for open optical networking solutions."

Ron Johnson was named GM of Infinera’s Optical Systems and Network Solutions Group, effective in September. He will join the company after two decades at Cisco, where he spent more than 10 years managing the company’s optical portfolio. According to information provided on Cisco’s website, Johnson holds multiple patents related to its technology and his team has been behind “recent innovation and integration in DWDM, packet and TDM technologies.”

Infinera also tapped former Dell EMC exec Tom Burns as the new GM of its Optical Modules and Coherent Solutions Group. As the name implies, he will have oversight of Infinera’s portfolio of optical modules and coherent products, including a line of ICE-XR pluggables the company unveiled in May.

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Burns joined Dell in 2012 and served as SVP and GM for Dell EMC Networking and Solutions from January 2018 to April of this year, according to his LinkedIn profile.

In a statement, Infinera CEO David Heard highlighted the industry shift to open optical networks as “an unprecedented opportunity” for the company. He added the new hires are part of an effort to “strategically align the organization to scale and accelerate toward the next phase of Infinera’s growth and innovation.”

Shore explained to Fierce "the formation of the Optical Modules and Coherent Solutions Group aligns with the fact that coherent optical engines are increasingly independent solutions that can be used both in Infinera systems as well as sold independently. This organization will be able to most effectively intersect the key market inflections of 8x4x1 by maximizing the unique capabilities of our vertically integrated Optical Innovation Center. The Optical Systems and Network Solutions Group is being aligned to focus on developing open modular solutions that can support a wide variety of optical engines and be flexibly configured to meet numerous network applications."

Other new additions include Azmina Somani, who will serve as SVP of Engineering for the Optical Modules and Coherent Solutions Group, and Russ Esmacher, who was appointed SVP of Strategy back in May.

Somani spent a decade as senior director of product development for vendor JDSU from 2004 to 2014 before the company split apart into two entities – Viavi and Lumentum – in 2015. She subsequently served in various executive roles at Lumentum, including VP of operations engineering and SVP of R&D, her LinkedIn profile shows.

Prior to joining Infinera, Esmacher was SVP of Product and Solutions for the Americas at DriveNets. Before that he was SVP of North America for Nokia’s IP and Optics Networks Division from 2018 to 2021 and spent 18 years at Cisco, where he most recently served as head of sales for Packet Optical Solutions for the Americas.

Johnson, Burns and Esmacher will report to Heard, while Somani will report to Burns.


*This story has been updated to include comments from Infinera SVP of Marketing Rob Shore about the new hires.