New network demands products before platform, says VC

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Startups with grand plans to build massive platforms may want to heed the advice of Martin Casado (pictured), general partner at Andreessen Horowitz: “Customers don’t buy platforms; customers buy products.”

This rings doubly true for companies working on Software-Defined Networking solutions, Casado told host Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick) and guest host Scott Raynovich (@rayno) of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio, during the Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara, California.

“Networking is about distributed state management, which is very specific to applications,” he said, adding that this requires targeted products, not a blown-out platform.

However, SDN solutions providers should include a platform in their long-term plan, he said. “If you focus on the product, you build a viable business, and then for stickiness you turn that into a platform,” Casado explained.

Products delivered in open source or as-a-service are the best possible ways for a startup to enter the market today, he said. This is sound advice for open-source startups, as well as closed-source legacies, who can stay relevant as long as they deliver products as a service.

“Amazon is a totally closed source, but people still consume it; because it’s a service, they think it’s open,” he said.

SDN moves up and out

As an investor, Casado is looking into SDN networking solutions that move up a layer, connecting not just machines, but APIs. Networking moving out to the edge, to drive cars, for instance, is another hot area for innovation and funding, he said.

Lastly, SDN’s impact on existing Long-Term Evolution networks to bring cellular service to underprivileged populations has potential for major business and social impact, Casado stated. “It used to be $150,000 to set up a cell tower. Using SDN, I can set up an LTE cell tower for about $ 5,000,” he said.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Open Networking Summit.

Photo: SiliconANGLE