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Aviatrix’s Steve Mullaney: There’s No Going Back To ‘Cisco Model Of The 90s’

Gina Narcisi

“We’re very picky, actually, about who we work with. If somebody is tied to the old, on-prem world, and selling boxes, we say: ‘Good luck and hold your breath when the boat goes down, because you’re going to get pulled under,’” the company’s CEO Steve Mullaney tells CRN.

What made you come out of “retirement” to join Aviatrix?

Two years ago, I noticed the explosion to the cloud where every enterprise said, “OK, now we need it.” We’ve been talking about cloud for 15 years, but really, until about two years ago, that’s when every enterprise said: “The center of gravity of our architecture is now in the cloud.” Up until that point, it had been very much on-prem[ise]. That was the center. Yeah, there were business units and people were doing some things in the cloud. But honestly, it wasn’t the main focus in the enterprise. Two years ago, they all move like a herd, and it was for a bunch of different reasons. It was existential threat to the survival of their business. It was the mature maturity of AWS, Azure, Google and Oracle -- they got comfortable with the cloud. If I’m a bank, they’re not worried about the other banks, they’re worried about the FinTech startup that’s going to completely transform them. Death is a pretty good motivator for people to change. Obviously, a year ago with COVID, it just accelerated that, but they were already on the move.

I’m a long-term networking person, I was at a company that got bought by Cisco, and I did my time at Cisco as well. I [knew], just like what happened in 1992 with the movement from mainframe to client server, this is a transformation that’s happening. And somebody is going to own the networking layer for cloud networking. I didn’t know who, but I knew just like every transformation, it won’t be the incumbent. It won’t be Cisco, Juniper, or Arista -- that’s the way it is. It’s going to have to be somebody new, by definition.

 
Gina Narcisi

Gina Narcisi is a senior editor covering the networking and telecom markets for CRN.com. Prior to joining CRN, she covered the networking, unified communications and cloud space for TechTarget. She can be reached at gnarcisi@thechannelcompany.com.

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