Network Virtualization Pioneer Guido Appenzeller Exits VMware

Mitch Wagner
News Analysis
Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading
1/10/2019



Guido Appenzeller, who pioneered network virtualization, is leaving VMware after four years at the company, heading for parts undisclosed, Appenzeller said Thursday.

"It's official, after four years at VMware I am leaving to pursue a new adventure," Appenzeller said in a statement on his blog.

What next? "Not quite ready to talk about what I am doing next. But likely it won't be in the networking industry," Appenzeller said in a message to Light Reading.

Appenzeller co-founded Big Switch Networks in 2010. At that time, network virtualization -- known then as software-defined networking -- was controversial and crazy; everybody knew that networking required specialized equipment, with intelligence built into the hardware. Now, network virtualization is standard, and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), during Appenzeller's tenure, has had a big role in that industry transition. The other big player here is Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which has embraced network virtualization -- ironically, since Cisco is the big company that Big Switch and other SDN advocates set out to destroy.

Appenzeller joined VMware as CTO, cloud and networking, in 2014, a role he has held since. (See VMware Hires Top Execs From Cisco, Big Switch.)

"VMware was the first time for me to work in a large company (or in fact, any company I didn't start myself)," Appenzeller says on his blog. During his time at VMware, NSX went from less than $200 million run rate to greater than $1 billion.

VMware confirmed that Appenzeller is leaving effective Friday, Jan. 11, as a "personal career decision." The company adds: "We thank Guido for his passion and commitment and wish him well."

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