Network virtualization company Nicira took the wraps off of its core product, the Network Virtualization Platform. The company is attracting attention not just for what it does, but also for its investors, the caliber of its team, and the fact that in stealth mode it gained customers like AT&T, eBay, Fidelity Investments, NTT and Rackspace.

Those investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates, along with individual investors including Diane Greene and Andy Rachleff, who collectively have provided $50 million. Rachleff and Ben Horowitz are on the company’s board of directors.

Martin Casado, Nick McKeown and Scott Shenker founded Nicira in 2007, and in 2009 Steve Mullaney joined as founding CEO. Among their earlier achievements are the invention of OpenFlow, Open vSwitch, and the development of the Open Networking Forum. They subsequently were joined by several brainiacs like Bruce Davie, a Cisco Fellow who is a co-inventor of multiprotocol label switching (MPLS).

So, what does Nicira do? To oversimplify, it does for networks what the cloud already does for tablets and computers – it separates capabilities from hardware. That makes it possible to reallocate resources as needed, saving both time and money, and eliminating the need to keep enough capacity for spikes in demand that are underused the rest of the time. Among other things.

“Network virtualization is the biggest change to networking in 25 years,” said Stephen Mullaney, Chief Executive Officer of Nicira. “NVP provides the final pivotal piece to cloud computing, the most transformational change to IT in a generation. And the largest most forward-thinking cloud providers are laser-focused on operations and economics, the two benefits Nicira delivers.”

Related links:

Press release – PDF

Photo by Flickr user OpenGov, used unde Creative Commons license