Ed. note: This is the third of three articles from an exclusive interview that Super-Geek and network virtualization pioneer Martin Casado, co-founder and CTO of Nicera, gave on SiliconAngle.tv from the Cube at WMworld 2012. The first covered his vision for full data center virtualization and how that will simplify and unify IT infrastructure. The second focused on what network virtualization will mean for the careers of IT professionals.
One of the hardest parts of Martin Casado’s job as co-founder and CTO of network virtualization pioneer Nicera, he said in an exclusive interview in the SiliconAngle Cube, has been managing his and his company’s reputations as Open Source community members.
“Nicera’s been an enormous contributor to Open Source,” he told SiliconAngle Founder and CEO John Furrier and Wikibon.org Network Analyst Stuart Miniman at VMworld 2012 in early September. OpenFlow, for instance, came out of Casado’s Ph.D. thesis and was developed further by the three Nicera founders. “We also are the primary developers behind Open vSwitch, that’s in the Linux kernel. We put millions of dollars into developing it, and today it’s used by competitors and partners in many clouds.”
The Nicera team has also contributed heavily to development of OpenStack and internally runs its cloud, with “thousands of VMs, on it”, on OpenStack. Nicera also runs servers on Linux and fixed problems in dLAN in the Linux kernel. “So we are really heavy users and contributors to both OpenStack and Linux. We don’t sell OpenStack or Linux, but we believe that to have a vibrant ecosystem, it’s nice to have these tools out there.”
He is also emotionally closer to the Open Source community than to the more traditional closed vendor approach. Open standards are important but very different than Open Source, he says, adding, “I hope the world goes Open Source, not open standards.”
Therefore, accusations in the industry press saying that Nicera is a closed source company, after it “contributed most of the core technologies”, upset him. “I think what has been most shocking [about running a startup vendor] is how difficult it is to manage perception in the industry. If you look at social media and a lot of the buzz in the rags, so much of it is generated by invested parties. So I think it’s possible to be a perfectly good citizen and then get painted in a negative light or be a very negative citizen and be painted in a very good light.”
The result, he says, is that Nicera is seen as both Open Source and closed source, depending on who is talking. “Sometimes it’s worked for us for the wrong reasons, and other times it hasn’t worked for us for the wrong reasons. So that dynamic has been the least intuitive for me.”
However, Casado says, Nicera remains strongly committed to Open Source and in particular Linux and OpenStack, and “that is not going to change with the acquisition [of Nicera by VMware].” What probably will change, however, is that now EMC’s PR department will handle the media, and Casado can focus on what he loves, revolutionizing IT.