Plexxi names EMC vet Napolitano its new CEO

Plexxi, an early proponent of the next-generation of scaled out networking networking, has a new CEO in Rich Napolitano who in previous lives headed up EMC’s unified storage effort and was head of U.S. sales for Sun Microsystems.

Napolitano, who joined the Plexxi board a an independent director about three years ago, had been working with company founder and former CEO David Husak who is staying on as executive vice president of strategy and engineering, according to the news release.

In a statement Husak said:

“When I founded Plexxi, I fully anticipated the transition from building the technology to taking it broadly to market … For any company to break through in a highly competitive market, there must be a strong partnership between the technology vision and commercial leadership. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have someone of Rich’s talent and expertise beside me to lead Plexxi through this transformational market opportunity.”


You sort of have to love Napolitano’s LinkedIn bio which describes the seven-month gap between his EVP gig at EMC and his ascent to CEO of Plexxi  as:

“Thinking about the next Big Thing … this space Intentionally left blank.”

napolitano linkedin

Plexxi was part of the wave of vendors changing networking for scaled out data centers a few years back. It had both a new type of switch as well as software management platform that like software-defined networking — flattens out the networking layers to help speed it up. As part of this shift in networking, big vendors bought into the notion that replacing pricey proprietary hardware with more standard, cheaper gear that could be reconfigured and reprogrammed with software was the way of the future. VMware dropped $1.26 billion on Nicira  in 2012 for example and Cisco launched a sort-of-independent Insieme effort then pulled it back in house. Cisco, the king of pricey networking hardware, also invested $6 million in Embrane, an SDN player, early this year

With all the established players rushing in, it became less clear what role SDN-from-the-start players would play and it was never really evident that real-world adoption matched the hype. Recently Gartner Analyst Andrew Lerner estimated that there are only about 500 to 1,000 mainstream deployments of SDN worldwide, according to this report.