Big Switch In Sales Exec Hiring Blitz As Software-Defined Market Widens


Big Switch Networks CEO Doug Murray is stepping up his efforts to push the young software-defined networking company into the mainstream by adding considerable sales firepower to its executive ranks.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company has hired Cisco and Extreme Networks veteran Alan Hase as chief development officer and vice president of engineering, Brant Kennedy as vice president of worldwide sales and Derek Donahue as vice president of sales Americas. The company also promoted Dana Aiken to a new role as vice president of sales strategy and enablement operations.

The high-level additions come as Big Switch reaches a point where it needs additional leadership personnel, as well as manpower in other areas in order to sustain the fast pace of growth it's seen in recent months, Murray said. The company is trying to maintain an 80 percent year-over-year growth rate as its cloud-focused data center networking portfolio takes hold among a widening set of large enterprise customers, the CEO said.

Related: Cisco's Changing Of The Guard: 8 Executive Moves That Illustrate CEO Robbins' Software-Centric Push

"We're much more mainstream with respect to the logos we're landing and where we're getting deployed," Murray said. "We feel it's a perfect time to double down on investment in the product side, with an emphasis on cloud, and the go-to-market side, which is why we brought on Brant to run worldwide sales, Derek who joined us recently to handle the Americas, and Dana, who has worked with us for about a year, to do sales enablement."

The leadership team's expansion is also a boon for solution providers, Murray said, because it marks Big Switch's expansion into a wider market for networking software.

"It's very important to look at it as investing in the go-to-market machine to make our relationships with channel partners even more successful," Murray said. "In the early days of the company, a lot of that was done in a fairly boutique sense with specialized partners in each market. As we move to this next wave, having that experience from a channel point of view becomes important. Both Brant and Derek, one of the really important things they bring to the table is the extensive work they've done in the past with the channel. That was a key part of our hiring criteria. It's very much about how you leverage the channel as an important part of our model."

Bob Lamb, director of telco infrastructure at OnX, a Toronto-based solution provider that works with Big Switch, said the new hires strengthen Big Switch's position as an alternative for customers looking to control spending on the network by adopting a software-centric strategy.

"The trend is toward white box networking," Lamb said. "There's a big push to take cost out of the network. Willingness to pay is flat, but demand for bandwidth is growing at 40-50 percent a year. They're trying to take cost out from the likes of Cisco, but they need a control plane that is friendly to their back-office system. That's where [Big Switch] It's the glue that holds it all together."

"We've looked at all the guys playing in that space and we think they've got the most well thought out, most deployable solution out there," Lamb said. "It's taken them a long time to get there. I think they finally have it right and the team they have in place now is the right team."

Lamb said he's expecting as much as 150 percent growth with Big Switch over the next couple of years.

Big Switch is a networking software vendor that partners with a variety of hardware vendors – including Dell EMC and HPE – to market complete data center solutions. The company has two main solutions: Big Monitoring Fabric and Big Cloud Fabric. The monitoring solution is a security and monitoring product for data center and cloud traffic. Big Cloud Fabric is a switching fabric that works with a variety of hardware in OpenStack, VMware, container and big data environments.

In his new role, Hase will lead Big Switch's product development efforts. Before joining Big Switch, Hase led Extreme Network's campus switching, wireless and orchestration business. He's also led Avaya's intelligent networking edge business and spent 15 years at Cisco, where he held leadership roles in routing, security and wireless.

Kennedy was previously at cloud application security firm Avanan, where he was executive vice president of global sales. He's held management and senior leadership roles at several firms, including ScienceLogic, Sybase and Nokia.
Before joining Big Switch, Donahue was vice president of enterprise sales at Ixia, where he led enterprise, federal and channel sales teams. He held that position through Ixia's acquisition by Keysight about a year ago.

Aiken has been at Big Switch for about a year, and is responsible for building the company's global sales enablement and operations strategy. Prior to Big Switch, she held sales leadership positions at Gigamon and Blackboard.

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