I am happy to announce that this week I have joined Stanford University as a Consulting Assistant Professor. This may come as a suprise to some people, as I am not exactly your typical academic. Those people would be correct, my job here is not primarily about teaching. The main reason I am joining Stanford is OpenFlow, and it is one of the most exciting technologies I have seen in networking for a long time.
OpenFlow is exciting in two ways. First, it allows you to run new protocols and algorithms on production networks. Before OpenFlow this was very hard, as modern routers have no API that gives access to this low level functionality. Second, it allows you to make centralized yet fine grain routing decisions. This has huge advantages in some areas such as security, data centers or mobility.
My job at Stanford is to make OpenFlow successful. This involves working with equipment vendors on integration and testing, helping deploy the first OpenFlow production networks and evangelizing the technology. If OpenFlow succeeds, it opens up a plethora of opportunities to innovate. Today there are projects under way to use it amongst other things for mobile networks, high-security networks and better virtualization support. Over the past two decades, software that runs on computers has transformed itself from being coupled to specific hardware, to running on standard operating systems and eventually to being a service in the cloud. OpenFlow has the potential to do the same with the software that controls our networks.
The other thing that lured me back to Stanford was the great environment. The amount of technological innovation coming out of Gates Building is all but overwhelming. I am also really looking forward to working with Nick and the great team of very smart people he has assembled.
For those that had bet on me starting another company, don’t quite pay up yet. While for at least the next 12 months I’ll be at Stanford, eventually I do plan to return to entrepreneurship. In the mean time, please drop by when you are on campus, and let me know what you think about the move in the comments or via mail.