Jon Kim directs Force 3’s Next Generation Networking division, which focuses in particular on software-defined networking (SDN) and other emerging technologies. Here, he weighs in on what the recent departures of SDN leaders for the venture capital world might mean for the technology as a whole.

When Martin Casado announced his departure from VMware to venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz last week, I was shocked.

Considered by many in our industry as the godfather of software-defined networking (SDN), Casado spearheaded VMware’s SDN efforts and oversaw the company’s networking and security business. And he’s not the only tech industry mainstay who has been lured away by the venture capital world. A similar story involves VMware president and COO Carl Eschenback, who recently left to join the firm Sequoia Capital.

Was Casado really abandoning his tech upbringing for the greener pastures of the venture capital world? What would this mean for the world-class products he helped create at OpenFlow and VMware? Was this good or bad for the SDN space?

I’m inclined toward optimism. After all, though a surprising loss for VMware, Casado’s departure could also be a sign that SDN has reached new levels of acceptance in the market, and is well on its way to maturity in the data center domain.

That a VC firm recruited someone as knowledgeable about SDN as Casado is a promising sign. It means Silicon Valley believes in SDN and its enormous market potential. They see a positive future in SDN, both in terms of the enterprise and potential profitability for new players in the space.

In his new role, Casado can play both evangelist and kingmaker for the next upcoming startup around SDN innovation. His tech savvy will be invaluable for evaluating SDN startups and their potential. Better still, he has proven ability in developing a vision and concept into marketable technology—a passion and skill he can now put to use across many companies.

With this transition, who knows what technologies Casado will uncover and nurture. And, with his continued advisory role with VMware, we can remain confident that NSX and its future SDN products will remain at the cutting edge of possibility.

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