SVP: Soni Jiandani
One could argue that Insieme Networks, the Cisco SDN "spin-in" that was acquired in full by the networking giant early this year, isn't really a "startup" anymore. But, no matter how you categorize it -- startup, spin-in, Cisco's SDN business unit -- Insieme has sure captured the market's attention in 2014.
Led by Cisco Senior Vice President Soni Jiandani -- also the technical mastermind of Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) -- Insieme is the driving force behind Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Unveiled in November, ACI is the heart of Cisco's long-awaited SDN strategy. The ACI architecture leverages a mix of merchant and custom ASICS, along with Cisco's new line of Nexus 9000 switches and its Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC). ACI goes head-to-head with competing SDN technologies, such as VMware NSX. The APIC hasn't shipped yet, but Cisco said it has 175 customers using the Nexus 9000.