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Big Switch Co-Founder to Join Facebook


December 20, 2016

The CTO and co-founder of Big Switch has left the company and plans to join Facebook early next year. Rob Sherwood said he is exiting the company at a point in which it is in good health, and that this new direction will enable him to spend more time in the lab. Sherwood will remain a strategic advisor to Big Switch.

Big Switch was one of the pioneers of software-defined networking. The company started off with a bang, as it got a ton of publicity early on. But it stumbled along the way, making a lot of big changes toward the end of 2013 and early in 2014. Those changes included both a pivot in its technology approach and changes to its management team.

The original Big Switch approach involved overlay networks, but the company later explained that relied too much on physical elements like switches and didn’t work from a scaling point of view. So Big Switch made a course correction and adopted the Unified Physical + Virtual (P+V) Cloud Switching Fabric, which leverages a cloud fabric with both physical and virtual components that Big Switch manages end to end. The management changes around that time involved Doug Murray replacing co-founder Guido Appenzeller as CEO. The company installed Jeffrey Wang as vice president of engineering shortly after that. And it also welcomed Joe Palazola as vice president of operations and customer support. These changes seem to have had a positive impact, as in August of 2015 transformingnetworkinfrastructure reported that the company had seen strong growth and customer adoption.

                    Image via Bigstock

The company this year expanded into the EMEA region and launched operations in Australia; appointed Wendell Laidley as CFO, and Mike Hoffman as vice president of worldwide sales and chief revenue officer; and secured $48.5 million in financing and named Bruce Armstrong of Khosla Ventures to its board of directors.

For Facebook, the addition of Sherwood should be helpful as the company continues its work in the switching and networking space. Already the company has developed Wedge data center switches, which it first unveiled in June of 2014. 




Edited by Maurice Nagle

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