Martin Casado, chief architect of networking at VMware, has been honored as a winner of the 2012 Grace Murray Hopper Award by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The Hopper Award is awarded annually to outstanding young computer professionals for a single recent major technical or service contribution.

Casado was selected for his work in creating the software-defined networking (SDN) movement, and laying the foundation for network virtualization as a new paradigm that provides a software alternative to hardware-based network components. Network virtualization uncouples the network from the underlying physical networking hardware. This level of abstraction creates virtual networks that deliver the same features as physical networks, but with the operational flexibility of virtualization. These innovations have spawned a burgeoning SDN research community with the potential to change the field. Casado was co-founder and chief technology officer of Nicira, which was acquired by VMware in 2012.

“Casado’s outstanding contribution to advancements in network virtualization illustrates the impact of computer science in solving real-world problems,” said Melanie Baljko, professor of computer science at York University in Toronto and chair of the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award Committee. “Starting with his research, and continuing with his commitment to developing practical applications, he has helped to define the future of networking itself.”