Small companies flush with VC money have led the way in software defined networking. Here are 10 of the hottest startups in the SDN space.
1.Big Switch Networks
Big Switch, one of the first SDN startups in the market and probably the most well-known, was founded with the goal of commercializing OpenFlow. The company shifted its strategy in 2013 away from overlays to focus on bare-metal switches and software. Last summer, Big Switch launched Big Cloud Fabric, which aims to bring hyperscale data center network design to the enterprise with SDN software and bare-metal Ethernet switch hardware in pod designs.
Plexxi is another early SDN startup, opening its first office in 2010. The company’s SDN platform consists of the Plexxi Switch and the Plexxi Control software. Plexxi calls its approach “Affinity Networking,” which it describes as “an open model for describing conversations that expresses application workload requirements in non-networking terms.” In a blog post on Plexxi’s technology last year, Network Computing Contributor Tom Hollingsworth said, “Affinities are a great example of how software is going to drive network operations in the future.” Plexxi also distinguishes itself by using optical interconnects.
Founded in Japan in 2010, Midokura launched its MidoNet network virtualization platform in the US two years later. MidoNet is a distributed virtual network overlay designed to help cloud providers and enterprises build Infrastructure-as-a-Service environments. Midokura made a bold move in the fall when it open sourced MidoNet, targeting OpenStack deployments.
Pica8 was an early proponent of the white-box switch model. The company’s PicOS network operating software runs on a variety of white-box switches from its hardware partners or an integrated package from Pica8. The startup appears to have started a trend among SDN vendors when it launched its SDN “starter kit” in late 2013. Plexxi and Big Switch are among those that also now offer starter kits.
Another SDN startup taking a disaggregated approach to networking is Cumulus Networks, which launched its Linux-based network operating system for white-box switches in 2013. Cumulus scored a major win early last year, when Dell agreed to offer Cumulus Linux to customers as an option for two of its top-of-rack switches. The company has raised about $51 million in funding.
PLUMgrid launched its virtual network infrastructure software platform in 2013, and last year followed up with its OpenStack Networking Suite. The suite is built on the PLUMgrid platform, and features security and scalability capabilities for OpenStack clouds. The company also announced last year that it had raised $16.2 million in Series B funding, bringing its total financing to about $27 million.
Embrane came out of stealth in 2011, launching its heleos technology focused on layers 4-7. In a 2013 blog post, Network Computing Contributor Ethan Banks said unlike some SDN wannabes, Embrane has achieved “true SDN in the network services space.” Last year, Embrane raised $14 million in Series C funding, led by Cisco (also now a key partner to the startup), raising its total funding to $41 million. Cisco’s investment could give Cisco ACI an option to deploy networking support services around existing hardware, Tom Hollingsworth, Network Computing contributor, wrote last year. The Cisco investment and partnership has led to much speculation that Cisco will eventually acquire Embrane.
Pluribus Networks was founded in 2010 with the goal of providing “server economics, innovation, and programmability” to top-of-rack switching. Early last year, the startup officially launched its integrated server-switch technology and its Netvisor, which the company touts as the industry’s first and only distributed bare-metal network hypervisor operating system. Pluribus Networks President and CEO Kumar Srikantan was formerly VP and general manager of hardware engineering for Cisco’s enterprise networking business.
Anuta Networks launched its first product, nCloudX, in early 2013. The technology is designed to provide IaaS cloud providers with a way to manage heterogeneous network environments and also automate the provisioning of network services. Last year, Anuta expanded its scope with NCX, a network service orchestration software platform targeting campus, branch and data center networks.
Viptela is among a new breed of SDN companies focused on the WAN. Viptela came out of stealth last spring with its Secure Extensible Network, which is designed to reduce the cost and complexity of the enterprise WAN by increasing flexibility via an encrypted overlay network. The startup has $33.5 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, and is headed by former executives from Juniper, Cisco, and HP. Other SDN startups focused on the WAN include CloudGenix and Glue Networks.
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