Along with John Willis, a former Opscode executive, they founded SocketPlane less than a month ago, and they’re announcing the company to the world today. Venugopal is CEO, and Salisbury is apparently VP of engineering; the company is new and casual enough that he didn’t have a specific title when they briefed me. Willis calls himself vice president of customer enablement.
That’s in spite of the fact that other people are working on Docker networking. To name just two, Zettio, with its Weave project, emerged recently, and Docker has its own networking entry, called Pipework.
Salisbury’s background is in network administration, and Venugopal spent more than a decade at Cisco working on, among other things, the Catalyst 6000 line. Both have contributed heavily to OpenDaylight, with Venugopal being voted the most valuable developer for the project’s first code release, Hydrogen. (You can read more about both of them in this interview from February 2014.)
So, obviously, they’ve been heavily involved with software-defined networking (SDN), and they see a connection to Docker, the open-source container platform that’s simplified the deployment of applications.
“Once containers and networking come together, you’ll really see an explosion of SDN,” Venugopal says.
Powered by Open vSwitch
The core of SocketPlane’s idea is to bring Open vSwitch to the Docker host, “to have a container that’s going to be able to manage the data path and also manage either overlays or underlays,” Salisbury says.
Open vSwitch put networking into the server — meaning the top-of-rack switch is no longer the edge of the data-center network. But with containers, that opens an issue of scale. A port hanging off of a top-of-rack switch could be connected to hundreds of different IP addresses, and the data center isn’t ready for that explosion, Salisbury says.
SocketPlane wants to attack that problem, focusing not on network systems, but on management and network services, which are the true guts of what SDN should be, Salisbury says.
SocketPlane isn’t revealing many more details yet, other than a DevOps-minded attention to making the software friendly to Chef, Puppet, and Ansible, and a commitment to give back to open-source projects including the Open vSwitch Database (OVSDB).
To start SocketPlane, Tucker, Salisbury and Venugopal both left Red Hat earlier in October. Venugopal told the company from the start that he had the entrepreneurial bug and might not stay more than a year — and in fact, he didn’t.
Both gush about how awesome it was to work at Red Hat — but you’ll notice they also left. “We didn’t want to hem and haw about risk and overlap. We definitely wanted to leave on the right terms and not get thrown out,” Salisbury says.
SocketPlane has a mailing address in Palo Alto, Calif., but really it’s a virtual corporation at the moment with just four people. The plan is to eventually set up a headquarters in Silicon Valley.