Nadeau, whose hiring was announced Monday, joins Brocade from Juniper, where he was also a distinguished engineer. He’ll be joining what’s becoming a powerful software-defined networking (SDN) squad in Brocade’s engineering ranks. The company hired Benson Schliesser away from Juniper in January, and in late 2012 it hired CTO and Chief Scientist David Meyer, who was part of Cisco’s SDN team and chairs the OpenDaylight Project’s Technical Steering Committee.
“My particular project has about 45 reqs [job requisitions]. It’s a significant piece we’re devoting,” Nadeau says.
That’s part of a larger, unspecified wave of hiring that Brocade is doing toward SDN and NFV in general. “It wouldn’t be a stretch to say we’re doubling” in those types of engineers, says Kelly Herrell, vice president of Brocade’s Software Business Unit. “It’s within the context of everything we’ve said, which is, software is the pointy end of the stick in terms of the strategy we’re wielding,” Herrell says.
Anecdotally, pretty much every company involved in SDN and NFV was hiring last year, and Brocade was no exception. But the company is going on a conscious push to hire a lot more engineers; Brocade asked us not to publish a particular number, but it would be more than enough to populate a couple of startups, and not the two-guys-in-a-garage kind.
“There’s a large NFV proof-of-concept (PoC) that we’re working on with a Tier 1, but that PoC is predicated on things in the core OpenStack code base that aren’t there yet,” Herrell says. (He’s referring to the Dynamic Network Resource Manager that Brocade submitted to OpenStack.) “So, we have to improve the surrounding software context. That’s one example.”
“These are not insignificant efforts. They’re really interesting and challenging. They need to know that it’s a forefront of the company strategy, and they need to know the company is investing at the requisite levels to stay there,” Herrell says.
Bitten by the Open-Source Bug
Herrell came to Brocade as the CEO of acquired startup Vyatta, which makes virtual routers. With Vyatta, Brocade has caught open-source fever and has decided it’s time to expand beyond the “mild” contributions it’s made to OpenDaylight so far, Nadeau says.
“You can’t do the open-source thing unless you jump in the pool. You can’t just put your toe in it,” Nadeau says.
Nadeau’s group will lead the OpenStack and OpenDaylight work that Brocade does while also turning those efforts into products (or, more likely, integrating them into Brocade’s other products). Nadeau will essentially be the chief architect behind those efforts. His group will be working not in isolation, but in conjunction with Brocade’s other engineering teams.
Schliesser and Meyer, meanwhile are “really working on the broader reinvention of the DNA here,” reworking engineering processes and procedures, Nadeau says. “I was just talking to Dave Meyer yesterday, and he was talking about a DNA retrovirus injection,” Nadeau says. “Vyatta sort of infected the company, in a good way.”
Brocade would seem to have the resources handy for the expansion Herrell is talking about. It had $987 million in cash and equivalents as of November and has reported earnings of 45 cents per share across the previous four quarters.
Nadeau, along with Ken Gray, literally wrote the book on SDN — or one of them, anyway. SDN: Software-Defined Networks – An Authoritative Review of Network Programmability Technologies, published by O’Reilly Media, was excerpted by SDNCentral in October.