LAS VEGAS -- The future may see infrastructure evolution rather than the ultimate demise of network infrastructure suggested by many analysts.
Martin Casado, general partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, told an Interop audience that legacy infrastructure isn't going by the wayside, despite the public cloud consuming workloads and commodification of computing platforms driven by Open Source.
"I think we're entering a golden era of infrastructure, coming to life in ways unimagined even five years ago," said Casado, citing infrastructure as a $4 trillion market that dwarfs software as a service or infrastructure as a service offerings.
Casado is intimately familiar with the forces that have disrupted traditional networking, having co-founded Nicira Networks in 2007 and then serving as a top VMware exec before heading to Andreessen Horowitz earlier this year. Yet in contrast with 2007, Casado said that today it has "never been easier for new entrants to come add value," adding that he expects to see a "Cambrian explosion of innovation."
Rise of developers fueling infrastructure evolution
To Casado, the continued decoupling of software from hardware, the shift from software to services and the rise of developers is driving the evolution in infrastructure. Casado said enterprise networking is following the same path as consumer technologies such as traffic and map products. Just as smartphone apps like Waze displaced proprietary GPS systems from TomTom, software-defined technology and community-based movements such as OpenStack is redefining the enterprise.
Martin Casado, Andreessen Horowitz
He noted that the software-defined movement has helped to lower research and development costs for startups, intent on improving infrastructure evolution through innovation. Simultaneously, the shift from software and even infrastructure to services has helped to create benefits and build companies with multibillion-dollar valuations, he said.
As a developer himself, Casado highlighted his belief in the growing power of developers to drive infrastructure evolution in a market that has often had channels controlled by only a few large vendors. Developers, more focused on technical aspects and often lacking even business cards, are often more interested in APIs than relationships with sales representatives or marketing pitches. "Developer influence has vaulted [vendors] into a new arena."
As Casado looks to the future, he sees room for tremendous growth, innovation and disruption and adds that no silo -- whether it's a technology or a particular vendor -- will be safe in the future of infrastructure evolution. "Everything is going to be upended," he said.
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