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SDN Vendor Plexxi Names Ex-EMC Exec CEO

Richard Napolitano will take the reins of the startup in hopes of scaling the business in a market dominated by the likes of Cisco and VMware.


Plexxi, a startup that two years ago joined the increasingly competitive software-defined networking market, now has new leadership.

Richard Napolitano, a former executive with storage giant EMC after stints with other vendors such as Sun Microsystems, was named CEO Nov. 10. Napolitano will replace founder David Husak, who will remain with the company as executive vice president of strategy and engineering. Napolitano joined the company's board of directors about three years ago, and he and Husak had been working closely on Plexxi's future in preparation for Napolitano taking over as CEO, according to company officials.

Napolitano's job will be to drive Plexxi's growth.

"When I founded Plexxi, I fully anticipated the transition from building the technology to taking it broadly to market," Husak said in a statement. "For any company to break through in a highly competitive market, there must be a strong partnership between the technology vision and commercial leadership."

Software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) are designed to enable organizations to build networks that are more programmable, agile and cost effective by taking network intelligence out of traditional switches and routers and putting it into software that can run atop commodity hardware. Such flexibility is becoming increasingly important with the rise of such trends as mobile computing, big data and the cloud.

Plexxi offers a switch fabric called Plexxi Switch, which leverages the company's Plexxi Control SDN controller to dynamically move network capacity to ensure proper bandwidth for the workloads.

"We stand today at a transition point in the IT landscape," Napolitano said in a statement. "This transformation will upend the networking industry as we know it and affect how businesses operate for decades to come. Plexxi has helped define 'What’s next' in networking so I’m excited to join the company as Plexxi leads the way into this new IT era and defines the next generation of networking architecture."

The SDN space is getting attention from most major networking and data center vendors, from Cisco Systems and its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) initiative to Hewlett-Packard, Juniper Networks and VMware, which became a significant player with its $1.26 billion acquisition in 2012 of Nicira.