Big Switch swaps out its CEO

SDN start-up in transition picks former Juniper exec Murray; co-founder Appenzeller stays as CTO

SDN start-up Big Switch Networks this week replaced its CEO with a former Juniper Networks executive as the company reboots its business plan in an attempt to boost the appeal of its products.

Big Switch named Douglas Murray as CEO, replacing co-founder Guido Appenzeller. Appenzeller will continue as Big Switch CTO and board member, and Rob Sherwood will remain CTO of controller technologies at the company.

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Murray most recently was senior vice president of worldwide sales at Juniper. Before that he held various roles at the company, including senior vice president and general manager of the data center security business, and senior vice president of Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China.  

Prior to joining Juniper, Murray was general manager of the volume products group at Extreme Networks. Before Extreme, he held various positions in business development, marketing, sales and product management at Sun and AT&T.

Big Switch turned its business proposal on its head in late summer by abandoning the overlay approach to SDNs and network virtualization, and instead embracing the OpenStack physical/virtual resource orchestration market with applications that run on bare metal switches. The company said this would be more appealing to the market than overlay network virtualization, which proved complicated and time consuming for its customers.

“With Doug, we have found the right CEO to take Big Switch to the next level.” said Appenzeller, in a statement. “His breadth of data center expertise led him to resonate with our goals for SDN, and his go-to-market experience is just what the company needs in this next phase of growth. His recent Asia experience has given him a front row seat to the most highly evolved market for SDN, and we could not be more thrilled with our choice. We are confident he is the right person to lead us forward.”

Added board member and investor Mike Volpi of Index Ventures: "We chose Doug not only due to his broad background in data center technologies, but also because of his reputation for aligning organizations to execute on a unified strategy. The board would like to thank Guido for his service as CEO, and we are looking forward to working together in the next chapter at Big Switch."

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 27 years, 22 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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