The OpenDaylight Project, an open source platform designed to advance software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), has recruited Nicolas "Neela" Jacques from VMware (VMW) to take on the role of executive director.

As part of the core VMware team that took virtualization from a niche development and testing technology to ubiquitous use, as well as the man responsible for launching VMware's first cloud computing initiative back in 2007, Jacques should have the background required to help drive the open source project forward. The developer-driven platform is meant to expand the intelligence, programmability and performance of network infrastructures.

In his new role, Jacques will oversee all aspects of the project, from governance and technology to community and marketing. He will report to the OpenDaylight board of directors.

"Lately I've been talking to many companies about a larger vision—that of a fully automated data center defined by software," wrote Jacques in a blog post on the OpenDaylight website. "I see an important shift taking place in networking, a move whose impact will rival what we've seen on the compute side. The difference, however, is that while compute could be changed piece by piece, networks are inherently connected. The entire industry needs to evolve together."

Jacques went on to praise the collaborative open source world for the evolution he sees happening in the industry. And it's an evolution he said he feels is needed for the entire industry to evolve.

And the network is key to developing a more efficient and automated data center, he noted in a prepared statement.

"SDN represents that last mile for virtualization, and open source software and collaborative development is going to get us there," he said.

The OpenDaylight Project is still in its infancy. The first code release, named Hydrogen, will be released in December. The project's participants expect it to be a common, widely supported SDN and NFV platform. Time will tell, of course.