PLUMgrid brings on Cisco vet for network virtualization push

Fresh on the heels of a $ 10.7 million venture capital round, startup PLUMgrid is staffing up, naming a long-time networking technologist Lele Nadin as VP of engineering. Nadin most recently was SVP of engineering at Ericsson Silicon Valley and before that spent 15 years at Cisco where, at various times, he led development of Cisco’s popular 7200 router and the Cisco PXF and Quantum Flow processors. Most recently he headed the company’s IOS software organization.

“We’ve completed nearly two years of development and are moving to the next phase — going to market and supporting customers, we’re fortunate to have Lele,” PLUMgrid CEO Awais Nemat, another Cisco veteran, said in an interview Wednesday. He still isn’t talking — much — about PLUMgrid’s product, which Nemat said is in place at select beta customers. Very generally, he said PLUMgrid’s software runs on standard hardware moving packets around and will attack what he sees is a $ 40 billion market opportunity.

In an interview, Nadin said his experience working both with large customers and with service providers prepares him for this challenge. “I have lots of experience building projects and deploying large networks for such companies as AT&T, NTT and Goldman Sachs.What brought me here is the team.”

That team also includes such luminaries as Valentina Alaria, another Cisco vet who was most recently senior product manager at Nicira. Alaria is head of product management at PLUMgrid.

Companies like PLUMgrid, Nicira, Cisco spin-out Insieme, Embrane and others are all trying to do to networking gear what VMware did to data center servers — treat all the networking gear as a single pool of resources that can be managed and deployed via software.  The idea is getting traction: Last month, VMware bought Nicira for $ 1.26 billion. A week later Oracle bought Xsigo.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based PLUMgrid, with about 20 employees, was founded in 2010. Last year, it got $ 2 million in venture funding from US Venture Partners and Hummer Winblad, and reaped the additional $ 10.7 millon from the same two backers. Hummer Winblad managing director Lars Leckie joins USVP’s Chris Rust on PLUMgrid’s board.

The new cash will go to strengthen the engineering team, add QA and customer support people, and fund R&D, Nemat said.