Tech shift turns up the heat on Cisco Systems

Kyle Forster saw his future flash before his eyes when a former Stanford University classmate told him in the fall of 2009 about new technology that promised to change everything in the data networking industry. The former Cisco Systems Inc. product manager said the technology that his friend, Guido Appenzeller, described solved all of the problems he faced at the dominant networking equipment provider.

"I fell in love with it at first sight," Forster recalled. Within months Forster and Appenzeller founded Big Switch Networks Inc. in Palo Alto.

Big Switch is one of a number of startups and established companies ...