The 10 Coolest Cloud Startups Of 2014 (So Far)

Young Companies Can Revolutionize A Revolutionary Business.

Dominant conglomerates like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are solidifying their hold on the cloud, increasingly controlling the evolution of the industry with hardware and software advancements implemented at a scale that seems to preclude anyone else from being competitive.

But these 10 startups are innovating and changing the game. They're looking to seriously disrupt an industry already in constant flux.


CEO: Sheng Yeo

Founded in a Sydney dorm room by three college students in 2010, OrionVM has already become a player in the Australian Infrastructure-as-a-Service market with its unique cloud architecture modeled after mainframe computers.

The startup this year brought its wholesale cloud to America, having set up shop in San Francisco.

OrionVM is a pure channel play that encourages its partners to white-label the product, and enjoy pretty darn good margins in so doing. So it'll be interesting to see what it can do on this side of the Pacific.


CEO: Jeffrey Hausman

It seems these days that conversations about where the cloud is going always segue into conversations about big data.

CloudPhysics uses big data to protect the cloud.

The startup, founded in 2011 in Mountain View, Calif., by former VMware employees, offers a cloud-based service that gathers billions of samples of anonymized operational data each day from customers around the globe.

That information is dissected to identify potential problems on virtual server, storage and networking environments, reducing human errors that can wreak havoc on a data center.

Skyfence Networks

CEO: Ofer Hendler

This Israeli company emerged from stealth mode early this year with a new cloud security gateway designed to monitor employee access to and other web-based services to protect corporate data.

Skyfence is now looking to leverage the channel with its go-to-market strategy, hoping solution providers can help boost broad adoption of the cloud-based service. The cloud gateway is a platform that can be deployed as a fully hosted service or as an inline proxy or non-inline sniffer.

Piston Cloud

CEO: Jim Morrisroe

With all the interest these days in OpenStack, people sometimes forget how difficult it can be to deploy and manage an OpenStack cloud. That's where Piston Cloud enters the picture. The San Francisco-based startup is rife with former NASA developers who helped build OpenStack in the first place.

Piston Cloud emerged from stealth mode in 2011 with a suite of products that use advanced systems intelligence to orchestrate private cloud environments on nothing but commodity hardware.

The software simplifies the process to the point that a single system administrator using Piston Cloud's Piston OpenStack 3.0 release can alone operate an OpenStack-powered private cloud.

CoreOS (and Docker)

CEO: Alex Polvi

In an age of distributed computing clusters, CoreOS might offer a glimpse into the future of the operating system.

The lightweight Linux distribution is optimized for massive server deployments. This year, CoreOS became available on Google's Compute Engine cloud, released an enterprise-grade version and launched a service called Managed Linux that its developers describe as the world's first OS-as-a-Service.

The commercial entity that distributes CoreOS also recently secured $8.5 million in Series A funding.

CoreOS fully integrates Docker for deploying and managing Linux containers. Many believe this technology, which strays from the hypervisor model, is the future of virtualization in enterprise environments.


CEO: Achim Weiss

ProfitBricks claims it does cloud infrastructure better and faster than the big boys.

The startup, founded in 2010 in Cambridge, Mass., hosts an IaaS service for more than 400 users built on Infiniband, a supercomputing technology that allows for speedy networking connections between virtual machines.

According to ProfitBricks execs, the technology gives the startup a performance advantage over more established competitors. When processor, disk and network speeds are taken into account, ProfitBricks' cloud servers are twice as fast as Amazon and Rackspace, they say.

ProfitBricks also offers a "scale-up" approach, which doesn't force customers to pick from a menu of set server configurations, but instead lets them choose the amount of CPU cores, RAM and storage they need.

Unified Office

CEO: Ray Pasquale

Unified Office's hybrid cloud-based VoIP solution offers documented strides in quality and reliability.

The Portsmouth, N.H.-based startup's Unified Communications platform, which is based on the company's Highest Quality Routing (HQR) software, dynamically adapts to select the highest quality path for end-to-end communications, minimizing problems that arise with VoIP.

Unified Office says the University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Lab has verified the communications platform improves on quality and reliability of service.


CEO: Richard Davies

ElasticHosts offers a public cloud that comes closer than anyone else, including AWS, to billing customers only for the computing resources they end up using.

The London-based company's Elastic Containers offering takes the consumption-based pricing model a step further than its competitors, dividing usage into 15-minute intervals. It has the potential to deliver to businesses significant cost savings.

Channel partners can white-label ElasticHosts' cloud, allowing them to be the heroes when passing down the cost savings as they see a 30 percent margin.


CEO: Sanjay Beri

You think you know what cloud-based apps are running behind your enterprise's firewall, but the truth is you probably don't. And even if you did, and were concerned about security and regulatory liabilities, you probably wouldn't know what to do with all those apps brought in by Shadow IT, because they actually work pretty well and make your employees more happy and productive.

That's the CIO's dilemma that several security specialists from brand-name networking firms, including Palo Alto Networks, Juniper, McAfee and Cisco, decided to address when forming Netskope in 2012.

Netskope can help CIOs get a handle on Shadow IT by bringing visibility to the prodigious number of apps brought into businesses without IT oversight, and introducing good governance to their management.

Affinity Cloud Connections

Founder & Chief Connector: Maureen Lindsey

San Diego-based Affinity Cloud Connections works with VARs to formulate strategies and craft their own portfolios of cloud solutions.

The technical consulting company, founded last year, helps technology providers become cloud services providers by advising those companies on infrastructure, technology deployment and software applications.

Partners rely on ACC to create and advance cloud-adoption plans by bringing together the right technology and solution portfolio partners. That accelerates time-to-market and revenue-generation opportunities.