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SDN Vendor Big Switch Names Juniper Exec CEO

Douglas Murray will run a company that has undergone a series of changes over the past year, including adopting a new SDN strategy.

Big Switch Networks, a startup in the hotly contested software-defined networking space, in September made significant changes in its strategy by moving away from virtual overlays and offering its technology bundled onto bare-metal switches.

Now it will pursue that software-defined network (SDN) strategy under the direction of a new CEO.

Big Switch on Nov. 5 appointed Douglas Murray, a former executive with Juniper Networks, as CEO. Murray most recently headed up Juniper's business in the Asia Pacific region. Co-founder Guido Appenzeller is stepping down from the top job but will stay with the company as chief technology officer and a board member.

Murray's "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," Appenzeller said in a statement. "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."

His appointment comes as the company begins to push its new strategy into the marketplace. Big Switch executives in September told media outlets that the company was moving away from its original three-tier plan for addressing SDN—around a controller, applications and the network—based on the OpenFlow protocol. Instead, it is offering its technology in bundles that are put into bare-metal hardware.

Company officials found that the original strategy was too complex, making it difficult and time-consuming for customers to make all three tiers work together.

At the Open Networking Users Group Conference in October, Big Switch previewed application-aware unified physical+virtual (P+V) SDN switch software spanning a fabric of bare-metal physical switches and virtual switches. The software, which Big Switch will release next year, leveraged the OpenStack cloud orchestration technology.

Big Switch also made headlines in June when it left the OpenDaylight Project, a vendor-driven open-source effort to create a common SDN platform. Officials questioned whether a group whose creation was driven by Cisco and IBM could be as open as promised, even if it was being run under the auspices of the Linux Foundation.