One of the ways you can tell that software defined networking (SDN) has the power to change the vendor landscape is by the number of startups that have emerged. Over the past few years, we've seen startups pop up to address the evolution of the data center and the WAN. For this reason, I always tend to keep my eyes open for companies generating buzz in the marketplace in this area.
In my recent travels, I was made aware of another "stealth-mode" startup that's building a solution to address a new use case for SDNs. According to its website, Avni Networks addresses the "transformation of the Data Center to Virtual Clouds for the Applications Economy." From what I can tell, there seems to be some buzz around what this company is up to, which made me curious about learning more.
I haven't been formally briefed by Avni yet so I'm not 100% sure what this means, but it looks like they are talking about cloud virtualization, which brings many benefits, such as seamless application roll-outs across any cloud and application portability across disparate clouds. Another clue as to what they're working on can be found on the ONUG sponsorship page that states that Avni "helps organizations realize their private, public or hybrid cloud strategy by transforming their data centers to software defined cloud." If Avni can build a product to actually do this, a company could deploy applications, compute and network services almost instantaneously, or "at cloud speed."
What really caught my eye with Avni is the talent the company has amassed at the executive and "angel" investor level. Avni's investors include the following:
- Bill Coleman is a partner at the VC firm of Alsop Louie Partners. He has been a founder, board member, or CEO at many high-profile companies, including BEA Systems and Cassatt.
- Dan Scheinman is probably best known for his 18 years at Cisco, where he held many roles including GM of Cisco's Media Solutions Group. Dan has been a very active investor and adviser and currently sits on the board of Arista Networks. In addition to Avni, other investments include Kodiak Data, Sentinal-One and tango.me. For you baseball fans, he is also is part of the ownership group of the San Francisco Giants.
The executive team includes the following people:
- Rohini Kasturi, founder and CEO, has more than 20 years in the networking industry, having secured many patents along the way. Although he's at a startup now, he was previously the Director of Engineering for the Edge Business Unit at Juniper Networks. He has also held senior engineering roles at Cisco, Motorola, and Lucent.
- Ravi Nuguru, co-Founder and COO, has over 20 years in networking in both the enterprise and service provider segments. He also spent time at Juniper as Director of Engineering for wireless. Prior to that, he spent 11 years at Cisco in its wireless engineering group.
In addition to the above, Avni is rumored to have an exceptionally deep engineering team, with many distinguished engineers with 20+ years of experience at companies like Cisco and Juniper and some of the top virtualization companies, as well as more than 50 patents achieved across the team.
What I like about this management is the level of experience across the executive and investor ranks. It seems many of the startups today have teams made up of people in their 20s or 30s with little expertise guiding products through their lifecycle. While I think some young talent is necessary, I've always said it's much harder to build a high-quality networking product than most people think. This is why so many networking startups come out of the block fast and then fizzle. Doing things at scale can be extremely challenging.
So while the company obviously has a lot of work ahead, from what I can see, there's clearly a strong value proposition for what Avni is allegedly focused on, which is why there seems to be some genuine buzz around this team and company. Now all they have to do is execute. So I'm keeping an eye on this company and looking forward to learning more to see if they live up to the buzz as they emerge from stealth mode.