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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.

Founded: 2011

Funding: $28.85 million. Their most recent round, a Series B, garnered $20 million from Jafco Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and private investors.

Why they're on this list: Businesses are struggling to keep up with outsourcing, globalization and the increasing prevalence of mobile workers. All of these employees (as well as partners and customers) demand reliable access to corporate systems. This is easier said than done. Traditional wide-area networks (WAN) are too complex, expensive, and limiting to effectively handle emerging business requirements driven by the cloud and mobility, especially for resource-constrained SMBs.

Pertino's solution is to use SDN technology to create secure, cloud-based WAN/Network-as-a-Service offerings. With Pertino, any business can build a secure cloud-based network in minutes that connects people everywhere -- and on any device -- with IT resources based anywhere.

Pertino's cloud-based platform makes it possible to integrate additional services (from Pertino, as well as from third-party network service providers) and deliver them as applications within the Pertino cloud network service. Pertino's cloud platform service sits on top of LAMP computing stacks within major cloud providers around the world.

Customers include Veracord and Fed Arb.

Competitive Landscape: Pertino will compete against two types of incumbents, MPLS providers (such as AT&T) and traditional WAN Optimization hardware providers (such as Riverbed). They will also compete against other startups, including Aryaka and Zscaler.

8. Plexxi

What they do: Provide SDN solutions.

Headquarters: Cambridge, Mass.

CEO: Dave Husak, who previously co-founded Reva Systems and served as its CTO.

Founded: 2010

Funding: $48+ million in venture financing from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Matrix Partners and Northbridge Venture Partners.

Why they're on this list: Plexxi points out that the networking industry has been offering the same set of layered technologies, originally designed for enterprise LAN connectivity, for the past 20 years. In the meantime, computing and application architectures have advanced dramatically.

Without network virtualization or SDN, applications and their network don't "talk" to each other. This lack of communication means too much capacity goes to places where it's not actually needed, and it's hard to shift capacity to meet bursts in demand. Typical networks are hardwired from the bottom up using a complex set of distributed protocols that attempt to guess their way to optimal topologies. Configuring these networks is still a highly manual, complex, and error-prone process, which makes the network a bottleneck for business agility.

By building an abstracted and programmable layer on top of the physical networking gear, Plexxi's technology not only gives network administrators more flexibility but also more speed. Plexxi has created an affinity-based scale-out networking product family to build, orchestrate and manage network capacity and functionality directly from data center-resident workloads. These products employ a top-down approach that starts with application configuration and ends in the connectivity needed to achieve those needs, rather than the other way around -- or, in other words, the apps dictate networking needs, rather than network capacity determining what stress loads the app can keep up with.


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