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VMware's Casado talks about evolving SDN use cases, including a prominent role for security

John Dix | Oct. 7, 2014
Martin Casado, who helped launch the Software Defined Networking concept in the labs at Stanford, was recently elevated to the top business slot in VMware's Networking and Security Business Unit, giving him the rare opportunity to see the technology through from the incubator to the data center. Network World Editor in Chief John Dix sat down with Casado for an update on the company and his thoughts on how the technology is maturing.

Martin Casado, who helped launch the Software Defined Networking concept in the labs at Stanford, was recently elevated to the top business slot in VMware's Networking and Security Business Unit, giving him the rare opportunity to see the technology through from the incubator to the data center. Network World Editor in Chief John Dix sat down with Casado for an update on the company and his thoughts on how the technology is maturing. 

NW:     Let's start with your new role. Why the management shift?

MC:      I hired Steve (Mullaney) as CEO of Nicira two years after we started and he was with me for three years, then we came here. We were never a traditional business/technical mix. I did a lot of the business and design and technical and go-to-market work. He was more internal, I was more external, but there was no clear delineation between business and technical. He was here for two years and grew it to a $100 million run rate business, and I think he just wanted to reshape his career so he decided to take off. Since I'd already been deeply involved in the business for seven years now, I was a natural person to take over.

So now I'm more inbound than I've been before. Last year I did 320,000 miles in the air, and I'm delighted to say I haven't traveled in the past month.

NW:     So a $100m run rate, over how much time?

MC:      The product has been in market just over nine months. I'll give you a quick retrospective. Nicira was started in 2007 and it took us about three years to get a network virtualization product to market. The product came out in 2010, an incredibly immature product for an incredibly immature market. Over the next two years, we matured the product and we matured the market.

We were able to launch the company with five of the largest companies in the world: AT&T, NTT, Fidelity, eBay and Rackspace. By the time 2012 rolled around we had proven we could take on these large accounts, we'd proven we could get big deals. But we didn't have VMware ESX support, so we we're locked into a small portion of the market.

Later in 2012 we got acquired by VMware and it took us about a year and a quarter to create a VMware compatible version of that product. We announced the full network virtualization version of NSX nine months ago and since then we have a $100 million business. So the ramp has been extremely quick.

Honestly, if you ask me why I'm so excited about his role, it's because I've seen every stage of this saga from the "That's-a-stupid-idea" phase to where we are now, and now the critical challenge for changing the world and getting this technology into people's hands is about scaling sales. It's a business challenge now. The technology is proven, the architecture is largely proven, the use cases are understood and now it's a question of, "How do you enable a sales force to sell this stuff to get to a billion-dollar business?"

 

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