At the beginning of the Software Defined Networking (SDN) revolution, when OpenFlow was king, Guido Appenzeller sat in a lab at Stanford along with Martin Casado.
Casado went on to found a company called Nicira, which was acquired by VMware for $1.2 billion in 2012. Casado has continued to grow and flourish at VMware, rising to the rank of CTO of networking.
Appenzeller had his own startup called Big Switch which he co-founded with Kyle Forster. I had the good fortune of interviewing Appenzeller at multiple points over the years, including a 2012 interview in which he was very optimistic about Big Switch’s prospects and future. I’ve also spoken with him over the years about Casado and vice-versa.
Big Switch has not followed the same trajectory as Casado’s Nicira, and Appenzeller’s exit from the company he co-founded was somewhat different than Casado’s financial exit from Nicira. Appenzeller left Big Switch in 2013 as new CEO Doug Murray took over.
Now it looks like Appenzeller is set to reunite with his former student Casado at VMware. Appenzeller will be VMware’s CTO for networking, while Casado is currently the Senior Vice President of VMware’s networking and security business unit.
Appenzeller is a wealth of knowledge and a technical visionary, and I suspect VMware will be a big winner in this move. As for Big Switch, it’s a company that has struggled to define itself, but new CEO Doug Murray has helped it to set a direction that looks to be profitable.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.