Big Switch Networks Shuffles Executive Lineup

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By: Michael Vizard

Big Switch Networks today cloud shuffled its sales and engineering teams by appointing new leadership. Alan Hase is now the chief development officer and vice president of engineering, while Brant Kennedy, a 30-year networking sales veteran, is the new vice president of worldwide sales.

Derek Donahue has also been appointed vice president of sales for the Americas, while Dana Aiken has been promoted to the role vice president of sales strategy enablement and operations. All appointments are effective immediately.

The shakeup of the executive ranks at Big Switch Networks comes at a time when disaggregation of network software and hardware is starting to gain traction. Cloud "hyperscale" players adopted a disaggregated approach to building their hardware many years ago. Recently, service providers have taken aggressive steps to diversify their options for buying networking hardware to avoid getting locked into proprietary systems. 

As a sign of the times,  Big Switch arch-rival Cisco recently caved to years of pressure by finally providing options for separating its hardware from its software. Other leading networking vendors, including Juniper (JNPR) and Arista Networks (ANET), had unbundled their hardware and software years ago. 

Big Switch, as a provider of a disaggregated networking OS, has an opportunity to differentiate itself at a time when more application workloads are being distributed across multiple cloud computing and on-premises IT environments, says Hase.

At the recent OCP Summit, Hase notes Big Switch Networks, in a collaboration with Google and Facebook, demonstrated three different approaches to building and deploying network operating systems (NOSs) that were all built using Open Network Linux (ONL). As ONL becomes more widely deployed on public clouds, virtual machine, bare-metal servers and containers, the opportunity for Big Switch Networks to provide the fabric that unifies the management of the NOSs environment via a consistent set of application programming interfaces (APIs) exponentially expands, says Hase.

That fabric creates an opportunity for Big Switch Networks to create an expanded ecosystem at a time when microservices based on containers will add additional pressure to disaggregate network services, adds Hase.

“It’s all part of a natural evolution,” says Hase.

Prior to joining Big Switch Networks, Hase led the campus switching, wireless, and orchestration business for Extreme Networks. Earlier, Haas led Avaya’s Intelligent Networking Edge engineering and product management teams and also spent 15 years at Cisco in various leadership roles.

Big Switch Networks, of course, is not the only provider of networking software with similar ambitions. But as the need to make networking services more broadly available, the obvious cost advantages of open-source networking software will start to be more widely appreciated when all the networking costs are fully evaluated, says Hase.

Given the rate at which change comes to enterprise IT environments that have already invested heavily in rival platforms, that rate of change may come slow. But given this recent spate of executive appointments, it would appear Big Switch Networks is committed to accelerating that transition as quickly as possible.