(Reuters) - Cisco Systems Inc's chief strategy officer Ned Hooper, once considered a top contender to be CEO, is leaving and will be replaced by chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior, the company said Tuesday on its Website.

Hooper, a 13-year Cisco veteran, oversaw the $3.4 billion deal for Norwegian video conferencing company Tandberg as well as the $5 billion acquisition of the pay-TV smartcard maker NDS, a deal which has not yet closed. Warrior, who joined Cisco in 2007 from Motorola, will remain CTO in addition to her new role.

"Now the time is right for us to drive the next phase of our organizational evolution," Cisco's Chief Executive John Chambers said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Pankaj Patel will take over Cisco's engineering organization, a job he used to share with Warrior.

The networking equipment maker, which Chief Executive John Chambers a year ago admitted had "lost its way" after several quarters of sub-par growth, has been challenged by rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co and Juniper Networks in recent quarters.

The company set a major reorganization last year aimed at making the business leaner and more efficient. That also included a 15 percent cut in its work force.

ISI group analyst Brian Marshall said the management changes was a continuation of that plan.

"In our view, (Cisco) is continuing to streamline the organization and consolidating responsibility for engineering, technology vision and strategy with two executives rather than three previously," Marshall said in a note.

"While we favor stability in the leadership ranks, we do not believe these changes were motivated by new execution, competitive challenges or strategic shifts," he added.

Cisco's shares fell 10 cents or 0.6 percent to $16.83 on Tuesday.

(Reporting By Liana B. Baker; Editing by Bernard Orr)