Page 3 of 6
Thanks to virtualization, software in the data center and all these things we keep talking about, is your competitive mix going to shift at all? I know you get asked often if, for example, VMware is now a competitor. Is this paradigm shift going to change who the players are?
I don't know if it will change who the players are. It'll be an opportunity for the emergence of some startups who will maybe fill some of the niche gaps. But, I consider VMware a partner. We're not in the hypervisor business, and they have a lot of software that automates the provisioning of virtual machines. That's not a business we're going to be in. We've committed to things like VXLAN, and I'd like to make sure our software assets dovetail nicely with theirs.
There will be those innovators that are clear about where they're going and what they're building and how they're going to build it. These are the companies that separate hype from substance and execute against a road map in a thoughtful way. Any time there is an inflection point like this one, there is an opportunity for winners and losers. We're uniquely positioned to be one of the winners in this inflection point, and it's up to us to drive it forward.
Does SDN strike you as an inflection point that will create opportunities for major share shifts, much like, say, VoIP did?
I think things like VoIP continue to reinforce the shift to IP packet-switched networking. Video distribution, for example, drives more shift to IP packet switch technology because it needs that.
I think about it this way. TCP-IP was a standard protocol that developed in the mid-70s and then was adopted by IBM, AT&T, DEC and others in the 80s. That was an inflection point. Another inflection point over the last 20 years or so was the concept of separating the forwarding plane and building custom silicon into the control plane in routers. That was driven by [Juniper CTO and founder] Pradeep Sindhu and Juniper. Without that disruption, routers couldn't handle the traffic growing at so rapid a rate.
SDN is potentially another inflection point in this evolution. You're separating the control plane from the forwarding plane, and it's not just what you can do there; it's about the services plane and the management plane and how software automates things that haven't been as automated as they need to be in the networking industry. SDN will have its most significant impact by enabling new services and reducing the operating expense it takes to run these services and their networks.