The Importance of Being Open: Launch
Today is a good day.
It has been almost three years now since we first started sketching our plan for Big Switch Networks. It has been an incredible journey so far, and this is just the beginning.
We set out to build a company based on the original vision of Stanford's Clean Slate Lab: a radically modern approach to networking based on a "3 tier" SDN architecture of data plane, controllers and SDN applications. Back in those early days, that was it. There was only a rough sense of what our products would be, only a notion of which problems they would solve first, and only the beginnings of a design for integrating with networks in place today. (And it's been several years since we melted down the Stanford Computer Science network with early implementations.)
There was, however, one core part of the vision that was clear from day one: a belief that embracing this three tier SDN architecture would make networks, and networking, better for everyone.
We've been blessed to have been joined by incredible teammates who share this "extra extra extra large" vision. Early on, however, it became clear to all of us on the team that for the SDN vision to reach its potential, it would take a global village of companies rather than one startup going it alone. What started as a partner-centric part of a business plan evolved in to our company's cultural norm: this vision is big enough that there is room for everyone.
It took two years for this culture to develop a name, but now it has one: Open SDN. Being Open, for us, isn't about a set of technical choices. Are our APIs open? Of course. Is an open source implementation available? Of course. Are the protocols we use part of published, open standards? Of course. However, that is just the beginning.
Being an Open company is just as much a product design question and a commercial question as a technical question. Our product experience is architected to work in conjunction with co-designed products from *anyone* who wants to participate. This creates a continuous product design challenge, but the rewards of getting the design right are, we believe, worth the extra effort this takes. This begets a large funnel of co-development partners that takes a specific set of skills and processes on our side to manage.
One of the many gratifying lessons we've learned as we've taken Open SDN from concept to launch is just how much our customers value this approach to doing business. The Open technical choices we've made are only one part of this approach. Another aspect is teamwork, teamwork with vendors and with users. During these efforts, the increasingly large SDN talent pool benefits from and grows as we open source key technologies. Our products are built to serve the needs of this community, and our product design is centered on an Open platform that creates options for the future. If you are faced with network purchasing decisions that need to last for five to ten years, in an era where fast paced technical change is making 1-2 year planning nearly impossible, you'd want to keep as many architectural and vendor options open to you as you can. And it might help to collaborate with the gang that is striving to deliver a new, modern era in networking.
This is a great day. We're excited about launching Open SDN, we're excited to announce our first three products, we're excited to announce customers and partners that have agreed to join us on this journey. For us, this is an extra, extra, extra large vision for the modernization of networks and networking, but as you'll read, our story is only a small part of our own company's launch. Ultimately, this is about the success of being Open.
-Guido and Kyle