Big Switch continues to staff up its executive suite, naming Jeffrey Wang, a 15-year Cisco Systems veteran, as VP of engineering. Last month, the SDN company brought on a new CEO in Douglas Murray, from Juniper Networks.
Wang said he was attracted by Big Switch’s vision of merging bare-metal switches with SDN. That promise would let companies reconfigure and reprogram white box hardware with software as needed instead of having to buy expensive proprietary hardware upgrades.
Still most of SDN’s promise, remains just that — promise — with adoption patchy at best. Murray, as you might expect, said he thinks that’s about to change. “We’re entering a new stage — the monetization phase with real products and capabilities that people can leverage. That wasn’t the case two or three years ago,” he said in an interview.
Wang was most recently the VP at Brocade in charge of the company’s Data Center IP Fabric solutions, but he spent the bulk of his career at Cisco, the leader in networking hardware. There, he was most recently VP of engineering for Cisco’s data center group which encompassed Unified Computing System (UCS) software, hypervisor switching and the Nexus 1000v switch. At Big Switch, Wang will head up engineering for products including its Unified Physical + Virtual (P+V) Cloud Switching Fabric, which is still in beta, and its SDN Monitoring Fabric.
It’s a no brainer that Big Switch, an upstart with just under $50 million in venture investment, would recruit talent from companies like Cisco and Juniper — they are a font of networking expertise. But those vendors are also the biggest threat to Big Switch and the other would-be SDN powers. Cisco just brought Insieme, its own SDN spin-out, back in house, and hopes to co-opt the SDN push without dinging its bread-and-butter hardware business too much.
So what makes Murray think that Cisco with billions at its disposal, won’t just crush Big Switch?
For one thing, many customers want choice, he said. “Cisco has a huge presence, incredible installed base and channel but people are looking for an alternative and when it comes to P+V we are the alternative.”