& cplSiteName &

6 SDN Startups to Watch

Craig Matsumoto
8/10/2012
50%
50%

With Nicira Networks Inc. getting acquired by VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), who's left in the software-defined networking (SDN) startup world? (See VMware to Buy SDN Startup for More Than $1B and VMware Insists It's Not Warring With Cisco.)

Given the popularity of SDN as a buzzword, it seems inevitable that a host of small companies will start calling themselves "SDN." Below are a few that have crossed Light Reading's path and seem worth keeping an eye on.

We've allowed the boundaries of "SDN" to stretch a little; you'll find a couple of cloud-networking companies in here that might or might not count, depending on your definitions. Rather than quibble, we'll suggest you use the message boards to tell us who doesn't belong and who we've left out.

Big Switch Networks
Floodlight has become the top OpenFlow controller on the market, in large part because Big Switch Networks seems to be partnered with everybody. Often mentioned in the same breath with Nicira, and likewise staffed with some of the Stanford University students who'd helped create OpenFlow, Big Switch is now the big name among independent SDN companies.



Embrane
Most of the SDN attention has gone to Layer 2, where OpenFlow resides, and Layer 3, which is an obvious next target for OpenFlow or a similar protocol. Embrane Inc. wants to work at Layers 4 through 7, creating virtual appliances on the fly -- things like firewalls or load balancers. Bonus tidbit: Founders including CEO Dante Malagrino come from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) spin-ins Andiamo and Nuovo and now are (maybe) competing with Cisco's SDN spin-in, Insieme.

Vyatta
Back in 2006, we wrote about Vyatta Inc. putting routing software onto plain servers. Voila -- generic router! Now, Vyatta has shifted to a role helping create network connections between virtual machines. One selling point is that direct east/west connections between virtual machines can be created, as opposed to "tromboning" -- sending the traffic out to a router and back.

Vyatta's age (founded in 2005) makes the "startup" moniker debatable, and the company does describe itself as being about managing virtualization more than about full-blown SDN. "We're not trying to get the network to do programmatic backflips yet," CEO Kelly Herrell says.



ConteXtream
Before the SDN craze kicked in, ConteXtream was talking about applying grid-networking techniques to the cloud. ConteXtream's software, ingeniously named Grid, creates a fabric that connects any network element to any other. The result is a programmable overlay on top of the data-center network.

PLUMgrid
Because PlumGrid Inc. isn't even giving hints about its technology yet, it's easy to pass it off as a bandwagon-hopper. But its team has been contemplating and even developing SDN ideas for about seven years. CEO Awais Nemat was in charge of the switch-chip division at Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL), and CTO Pere Monclus and Director of Product Management Valentina Alaria worked on OpenFlow while at Cisco.

Midokura
Probably the least well-known company on this list, Midokura started examining the potential for SDN in 2009. It's based in Japan, where SDN has a strong grip on the industry's collective consciousness and a big-name backer in NTT. Midokura's claim to fame will be the ability to create virtual appliances for Layers 2 through 7 -- overlapping the target markets of Nicira and Embrane, in a sense.

For more

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
joanengebretson
50%
50%
joanengebretson,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:24:04 PM
re: 6 SDN Startups to Watch


CRAIG


Interesting post. You've obviously been keeping close tabs on this area.


I'm guessing these companies are mostly VC funded?


 


 


 

Todd_Craw
50%
50%
Todd_Craw,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:24:03 PM
re: 6 SDN Startups to Watch
You left off Plexxi who is really interesting and absolutely belongs on this list.
big_thinker
50%
50%
big_thinker,
User Rank: Lightning
12/5/2012 | 5:24:02 PM
re: 6 SDN Startups to Watch


Actually the list is pretty darn long, with the broader context in the article, such as..


* Pluribus


* Plexxi


* Contrail


* Pertino


* vArmor


* and the few under stealth mode which would come up this year and early next year.


and this does not include the SDN or SDN-like projects in bigger companies like Cisco, Juniper, HP,  Dell, Oracle, Microsofts etc. 


What is the market timing for these companies to get real business?

fgoldstein
50%
50%
fgoldstein,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:23:59 PM
re: 6 SDN Startups to Watch


What is the market timing for these companies to get real business?


Welcome to silly valley, where "investors" chase the hot buzzword of the day.  SDN was a hot term two decades ago in the phone business, if anyone has a long memory; it's funny to hear it again in context of OpenFlow.



Software-based routers like Vyatta, Imagestream and MikroTik, make a lot of senes.  They are getting faster as standard chips improve, and cost far less than Ciscos of equivalent power.  They don't reach the high end yet, but cover more and more ground.  It'll be interesting to see how MikroTik's Cloud Core Router works out, using its Linux-derived RouterOS on a 36-core Tilera CPU.


I've heard some reasons to doubt OpenFlow, though. It should be fine in a data center.  But by moving the control away from the switch, it adds latency, so it could impair performance of wide-area networks.  Let's see how that works out once it's past beta.  At this stage it's just a lot of VCs at the race track while the horses are walking towards the starting gate.

Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:23:53 PM
re: 6 SDN Startups to Watch


Thanks for the extra list, big_thinker.  I probably should have added vArmour. Something about them being security focused made them feel like a different, even newer category somehow. (I'm now thinking otherwise. Never said this was a scientific process.) I'll admit I haven't heard of some of the others, so I've got some catching up to do.


The list was specifically for startups, so no, I didn't include any of the activities at the larger companies. (That includes Insieme.) If I did, it would basically be a list of everyone in networking!

big_thinker
50%
50%
big_thinker,
User Rank: Lightning
12/5/2012 | 5:23:34 PM
re: 6 SDN Startups to Watch


You are welcome craig.  there is an interesting one i missed.  its cummulus from former googlers.    they are low-key but focused on selling.  among large companies, you can also add alu ipd.  they are also tip-toeing.


some companies have gotten focused on intense marketing, way before they have anything meaningful. one such company on your list is plumgrid.  word on the street is that one of their key founders and chief-architect & developer, michael smith, recently left to join inseimi due to issues with their product goals.


i am tracking this landscape for over few years and am happy to add 2 cents...

Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
February 26-28, 2018, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Project AirGig Goes Down to Georgia
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/13/2017
Here's Pai in Your Eye
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 12/11/2017
Verizon's New Fios TV Is No More
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/12/2017
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/11/2017
Juniper Turns Contrail Into a Platform for Multicloud
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 12/12/2017
Animals with Phones
Don't Fall Asleep on the Job! Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed