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Big Switch Networks CTO Rob Sherwood on SDN in 2015: The time is now

Art Fewell | March 10, 2015
I recently had the chance to sit down with Rob Sherwood, CTO of Big Switch Networks to get his insight on whats hot with SDN for 2015.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Rob Sherwood, CTO of Big Switch Networks to get his insight on what's hot with SDN for 2015. 

The interview can be seen on my youtube channel, OpenNetworking.TV here, and you can also view the transcript below:

[Art Fewell] Welcome to OpenNetworking TV, this is the CatchUp. I'm your host, Art Fewell. Today we are going to be catching up with another one of the founding fathers of the SDN movement, I hope that's a fitting description, Rob Sherwood of Big Switch Networks. Rob would you mind sharing a little of your background?

[Rob Sherwood] Thanks first for having me. I actually have a background as a campus network admin. I was doing network security and network administration back at the University of Maryland 15 years ago. Then I ended up going to graduate school, doing the network research, network security angle for my PhD. I actually ended up at Stanford as part of the Clean Slate program where SDN was really a thing. I was paid by huge telecom, it was also kind of a post-doc for me there. I was just in the group that was doing OpenFlow. I actually joined with Guido Appenzeller, the future founder of Big Switch. He was actually my manager. We were just a couple of grad students and a couple of post-docs doing some funky things with networks. Later, SDN came about, and Big Switch came about, and Nicira came about and all sorts of things happened. I've been involved basically ever since.

[Art] What's your takeaway, what's it been like going through this experience and watching it all mature?

[Rob] I've said every year for the last six or seven years, next year is going to be huge for SDN; and actually I've been right. Actually even after seven years of it, it's getting a little bit scary. Practically speaking, there's a bunch of things that I think are really going to be different about 2015. The idea of disaggregated switches, bare metal switches that I as a software vendor can actually write my own software on the switch and then turn that into a wholesale SDN solution, I think is really coming to bear and that's really helping accelerate the industry. I've been talking about this for a couple years now, that there's this inherent problem that A; building a good SDN switch side implementation is both technically hard and the people whose job it is to do that are economically disincentivized to do that. We're asking them to throw away, in some cases 20 years' worth of software investment to implement this OpenFlow thing. That's just, it's just not going to work.


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