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10 Software Defined Networking Startups to Watch

Jeff Vance | Aug. 23, 2013
As the software-defined data center evolves from dream to reality, many Software Defined Networking (SDN) startups are being snatched up by established networking vendors. Here are nine SDN startups (and an important new standards body) that intend to push SDN into the mainstream.

Metacloud intends to deliver only the pros, offering solutions that provide the convenient and instantly-updated public cloud experience, along with the flexibility, security, and cost effectiveness of the private cloud -- all while protecting legacy data center infrastructure investments. Sounds like a tall order, but this is how certain SDN vendors, such as Metacloud and PLUMgrid, are differentiating themselves from vendors that encourage forklift upgrades.

Metacloud delivers an enhanced version of OpenStack that runs on a customer's existing, on-premises data center hardware, regardless of manufacturer. Metacloud also remotely manages and supports the resulting cloud. They charge a per-socket subscription fee for this service, of course, which they argue ends up costing a fraction of the price of competing solutions.

Basically, this is an OpenStack-as-a-Service offering. Tableau Software is an early named customer.

Competitive Landscape: Metacloud will compete against everyone from VMware to other OpenStack vendors to SDN vendors like PLUMgrid.

6. Midokura

What they do: Provide an SDN platform that virtualizes networking services.

Headquarters: San Francisco, Calif.

CEO: Dan Mihai Dumitriu, who was previously a technical lead at Amazon, where he was responsible for building key components for their service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Founded: 2010

Funding: $22 million to date. Their latest round, a $17.3 million Series A, was secured in April 2013. The round was led by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), a Japanese public-private partnership. Other investors who participated included NTT Investment Partners, L.P., and NEC Group's Venture Fund: Innovative Ventures Fund Investment L.P.

Why they're on this list: As any networking engineer can tell you, cloud networks are difficult to provision and scale, and adding new network services is a cumbersome, manual task, since adding services is so hard to automate. Moreover, current cloud networking models tend to be insecure and aren't terribly resilient.

Midokura's flagship product, MidoNet, is an SDN solution that uncouples an organization's cloud from its network hardware, creating an intelligent software abstraction layer between end hosts and the physical network. This abstraction layer allows the network to scale in a linear manner.

The abstraction layer can tie into platforms like OpenStack and CloudStack, so services can be automatically provisioned. Finally, since MidoNet doesn't rely on VLANs for network isolation, it isn't bound by the 4096 individual VLAN limit.

Competitive Landscape: Midokura will compete against Nicira (acquired by VMware), Vyatta (acquired by Brocade), Big Switch Networks and most other startups in this roundup.

7. Pertino

What they do: Provide cloud- and SDN-based secure networking services.

Headquarters: Los Gatos, Calif.

CEO: Craig Elliott. Prior to Pertino, Elliott was the CEO of Packeteer, taking the company from three people to over 200 before going public with a market valuation of over $2 billion.


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