Carl told industry watchers that he did not enjoy his role as operating head of the optical networking group, and that he wanted to, instead, “focus on strategy, marketing and customer relationships.” For Carl, this was the “fun stuff.”
Even before this Fiber Optics News (post-9/11) story hit the press , Carl’s engineering subordinates said he was unavailable and he rarely appeared in Petaluma anymore, where the bulk of Cisco’s optical team (the Cerent-acquired folks) toiled.
Carl was supportive of Jayshree’s selection and believed she’d do a great job with Cisco’s growing optical team. “She’s been very successful in this company doing something other than routers,” Russo said. “She comes from the LAN switching environment. And she just got back from a sabbatical, so her batteries are completely charged.” 
But Jayshree was nervous, at first, in assuming the role as point person for optical.
She told me, “. . . you had Carl, the fearless leader, and you were used to that and now all of a sudden you had some woman who does Enterprise Switching that was put into the role. I thought that there would be some DNA that would reject that piece, but to your credit all of you were very open [to me].”
From a purely “team optical” perspective, it was interesting that the timing of this reorganization was announced almost two years to the day that Cisco announced its blockbuster acquisition of Cerent, thereby allowing any former Cerent employees within Cisco to leave (at the completion of their 2-year commitment) and halting the optical overlay sales force structure that had been so successful up until then. Besides, when economic times are tough, as during the dot.com bust and telecom meltdown, it’s time for large companies to reorganize. Cisco did just that.
Rumor Has It! Turned out to be the Truth, in this Case
Ultimately, Carl left Cisco for another startup, where he replaced Mike Hatfield (again) to lead Calix, based in Petaluma. But in the fall of 2001, two years after Cerent’s acquisition, no one was worried about the positive prospects for the Cerent-infused optical transport solutions.
Brian Van Steen of RHK said that the technology would keep Cisco’s optical networking group afloat . . . “I don’t think [Carl leaving Cisco] would be a big deal from Cisco’s perspective. [Carl] came over from Cerent, but that was two years ago,” Van Steen says. “It’s not like they were acquired five months ago and they’ve lost one of the key people before they could really integrate the whole operation. Carriers really like the product. Just because one person leaves doesn’t mean they’re going to stop buying it. Despite what’s happening this year, there definitely is traction and demand for the product.” 
Carl said it best about the ‘454’ product, in particular, “One of the early things I wanted to do was to get [the customers] in the boat with us . . . once it became clear that we had Cerent focused on a tight product-market fit and a go-to-market sales approach and once it became clear that the dog liked the dog food and would come back for more dog food, then my concern flipped over on the other side, [to focus on engineering and the roadmap].
Indeed, Carl passed the baton to Jayshree to drive the optical roadmap within Cisco and to make IP + Optical a reality.
She did just that.
 As part of Cisco’s acquisition of Cerent in August 1999, Carl Russo struck a deal with John Chambers that its employees would be “protected” for two years from any change in job status. It was now two years later.
 Fiber Optics News, Cisco’s Russo Staying Put–For Now: Former Head of Optical Networking Eases Into New Role, Evan Bass, September 24, 2001, pp.1–2.
 Cisco Systems’ 2001 annual report included a “Conversation with Cisco Management” about the difficult year 2001 turned out to be for the Internet giant. John Chambers was asked, “With your new structure that organizes the engineering department by technology groups versus the line of business focus, has your commitment changed to your key enterprise, service provider, and commercial business customer segments?” John replied, “This reorganization maps closely to how our customers are currently making business decisions . . . Our line of business structure served us well over the last four and a half years [from 1997 to 2001] as we grew from $6 billion in revenue to over $22 billion. However, we were beginning to experience product overlap and were less effective in sharing both resources and innovations across our broad engineering organization than I would have liked . . . [However], with this new organization, our three customer segments, [enterprise, service provider, and commercial business customer,] remain key to our future success, and will remain the core focus throughout our company . . . I believe Cisco is in a position to provide both [enterprise and service provider] solutions. Our goal is to be the number-one market player in all three segments as they move toward integrated data, voice, and video networks.” James Richardson, Cisco’s Chief Marketing Officer, in order to reinforce the technology innovation aspect of Cisco’s contributions, added, “Over the years, Cisco's innovative spirit has resulted in the development of key Internet technologies such as IPv6, quality-of-service (QoS) over IP, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Dynamic Packet Transport (DPT), [another IP over optical solution], and data-over-cable technologies.”