Emerging Vendors You Need To Know In 2020

In our annual Emerging Vendors special report, CRN shines a spotlight on some of the most exciting channel-focused startup vendors with leading-edge technologies that are creating new opportunities for solution providers.


The IT industry runs on innovation. Startup companies, perhaps because they are unencumbered by legacy products or legacy thinking, are often the source of the biggest technology breakthroughs in such areas as big data, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

With that in mind, solution providers should take note of startups with leading-edge technologies that create opportunities to develop innovative, high-value offerings for customers.

The CRN 2020 Emerging Vendors list includes 125 companies that were founded in 2014 or later, have annual sales of less than $1 billion, and are working with channel partners in North America.

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These startups may not be household names yet, but many are gaining market traction, earning name recognition within the IT industry and—in some cases—have their eyes on future IPOs.

Rubrik, for example, has become a force in the cloud data management and enterprise backup/recovery space. Streaming data technology developer Confluent, a darling in the big data arena, has raised $456 million in funding and grew its sales by 450 percent in 2019. And Wasabi Technologies has been making a name for itself as it competes against Amazon Web Services with its simple and affordable cloud storage.

Others are just out of the gate, founded in the last one to two years or recently exiting stealth. Kubernetes infrastructure company Spectro Cloud launched in August 2019, for example, while distributed cloud application services provider Volterra exited stealth in November 2019.

Meanwhile, IT startups have certainly been attracting a lot of venture capital this year. This year alone they include big data startup Starburst Data ($42 million), security startup Huntress Labs ($18 million), IoT startup FogHorn ($25 million), cloud security startup CloudKnox Security ($12 million) and AIOps platform startup OpsRamp ($37.5 million).

Security startup Snyk, whose development tools are used to find and fix vulnerabilities in software code, raised an impressive $150 million in January after rapid revenue and customer growth in 2019. The funding will “accelerate our vision of enabling businesses to continuously build security into their application development process and culture,” said CEO Peter McKay.

Startups in their early years have traditionally focused on selling directly to a limited number of customers, not turning to the channel until they are well-along in broadening their sales efforts. But startups seem to be turning to the channel earlier in their development, recognizing that solution providers can introduce a startup and its products to their customers and apply a startup’s leading-edge technology to real-world solutions.

In April Fluree, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based startup developer of a platform for developing blockchain-based applications, launched its first formal channel program, the Fluree Partner Network, to work with ISV, systems integrator, VAR and cloud infrastructure partners. The chief goal of the program is to recruit and assist partners that provide applications and services that “bridge the last mile” between Fluree’s blockchain technology and customer implementations, said Robert “Buck” Flannigan, vice president of global partners.

“The idea is to find projects where clients can benefit from Fluree‘s software and build around that. Definitely our [strengths] are around software implementation and technical consultancy,” said Pawel Dyrek, technology consulting manager at Codete, an IT consulting and software developer and Fluree partner based in Krakow, Poland. Of the new partner program, Dyrek said the co-marketing projects and lead-generation services “will be greatly beneficial.”

Snyk launched its first partner program in February in recognition of the fact that solution providers can help support enterprise customers with large development staffs.

Startup companies with hot technologies also can be acquisition targets for large vendors looking to spice up their product portfolios. In just the short time since CRN compiled this list, Zscaler acquired application security startup Edgewise Networks, SUSE struck a deal to buy container technology startup Rancher Labs, and Fortinet snapped up cloud security developer Opaq Networks.

The CRN 2020 Emerging Vendors list includes startups in big data, cloud, data center, Internet of Things, networking and unified communications, security and storage technologies. The 2020 Emerging Vendors complete list provides additional details on many of the startups.