Network Virtualization Pioneer Guido Appenzeller Exits VMware

Mitch Wagner
News Analysis
Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

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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