Light Reading
A few names to note before every startup starts saying it does software-defined networking

6 SDN Startups to Watch

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
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
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...

Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Rick Talbot, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:12   |   (0) comments


At the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Rick Talbot shared his positive feedback about the holistic and open approach that Huawei adopts for SDN and NFV. He also found the open sharing at the event valuable as it features different perspectives from Huawei experts, telecom operators, industry analysts as well as security experts.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With David Snow, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:24   |   (0) comments


David Snow talked about his understanding of Huawei and its SoftCOM strategy at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that Huawei's wide approach combining IT and CT expertise, introducing big data and analytics into solutions and contributing to the OpenStack community particularly resonate with him and make the company stand out in the industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

10|31|14   |   3:13   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro commented on Huawei's data center capabilities and NFV solutions at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that in addition to covering all three key domains of compute, storage and networking, the company also emphasizes the importance of management capabilities and professional services, which are essential in making NFV a reality.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Michael Howard, Co-founder & Principal Analyst, Infonetics Research

10|31|14   |   5:25   |   (0) comments


Michael Howard talked about SDN, NFV, and OpenStack adoption at Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014. Particularly, he pointed out that Virtual Enterprise CPE is the top NFV use case that operators plan to invest in over 2014 and 2015 to deliver new enterprise services through virtualized functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Jerry Caron, Senior Vice President, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   3:11   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Jerry Caron from Current Analysis said that orchestration and management are key to realizing SDN and NFV for global carriers, and the approach that Huawei is taking, with its FusionSphere Cloud OS at the core, is in the right direction to address the challenges.
LRTV Documentaries
Broadband Battles

10|31|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


This year's Broadband World Forum featured a number of show floor battles focused on access gear, components and coffee.
Jonestown
Mobile Backhaul: Going to the Dark Side?

10|30|14   |   2:26   |   (1) comment


Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan shares his view on a dark trend that bubbled up at Light Reading's annual backhaul conference in NYC.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With CEO of SwitchCom

10|30|14   |   4:13   |   (0) comments


SwitchCom, an IT company based in Angola, recommends a variety of Huawei solutions and hardware to their customers in the energy industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy

10|30|14   |   4:08   |   (0) comments


Gosaye Mengistie of Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy discusses the collaboration with Huawei in that country.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Dongfang Electronics Corporation

10|30|14   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Dongfang Electronics Corporation, headquartered in Chengdu, China, is one of China's largest manufacturers of power generators and contractors of power station projects.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Zimbabwe's Customers

10|30|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Power and Development discuss the energy needs of their country as well as new areas of improvement due to enhanced ICT capabilities.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Colbún Chile

10|30|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


In Chile, an aging energy infrastructure was in dire need of a modern update. Claudio Valenzuela of Colbún discusses how Huawei's ICT solutions continue to provide crucial information to improve the grid and how an in-country engineer is a cricial asset.
Upcoming Live Events
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 30, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Microsoft's Skype Embraces WebRTC on IE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/27/2014
FTC Slaps AT&T With Throttling Lawsuit
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/28/2014
Wheeler Gets Down With OTT
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/29/2014
China's MVNOs Hit the Wall
Robert Clark, 10/27/2014
Let's Not Kill SDN & NFV With Silos
Francois Locoh-Donou, Senior VP, Global Products Group, Ciena, 10/28/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed