The hire gives San Francisco-based Akanda a talent and visibility boost as it attempts to establish an open source alternative to proprietary networking stacks. Roberts joins from VMware, where he spent a scant eight months as senior R&D director in that company’s network security business unit. In his new role, Roberts will help build Akanda’s product team, which is currently staffed with developers on loan from DreamHost.
Akanda got $1.5 million in seed funding from DreamHost last year as it spun off from the web hosting an cloud provider. Built on technology developed for DreamHost, the startup is targeting web-scale enterprises and cloud providers running OpenStack. Akanda’s platform allows orchestration of Neutron, OpenStack’s networking component, on proprietary Layer 2 hardware, regardless of vendor.
“Neutron has had its growing pains,” Roberts says. “But Akanda is one of the companies that can help establish Neutron as a viable technology within OpenStack.”
In Roberts, Akanda gains a powerful voice and insider at the OpenStack Foundation. A board director for more than two years, Roberts most recently represented VMware parent company EMC. Previously he represented Yahoo, where he worked on infrastructure strategy from 2010 until last summer.
Though VMware will likely reassign his board seat following Roberts’ departure from the company, he will continue to participate on OpenStack’s powerful DefCore committee, which oversees the requirements used to approve use of the OpenStack trademark.
“I’m looking forward to getting started and getting some developers on board” at Akanda, Roberts says.
“It’s like starting a company from scratch, but we already have a big customer [in DreamHost]. So it’s a good position to be in.”