The 10 Coolest Cloud Startups Of 2016 (So Far)

New Kids In The Cloud

Enterprise IT is evolving rapidly, and startups are leading the charge toward modern computing environments defined by scale-out architectures, highly integrated data sources, nimble resource provisioning and flexible management techniques.

Some of the newcomers on this list are partnering with industry heavyweights, building unique components to help power major enterprise offerings. Others are seeking to commercialize cutting-edge open-source technologies or just working to make it easier for solution providers and corporate IT leaders to leverage the cloud.

What's most exciting is that several of these startups have finally reached the phase in their growth where they're ready to realize the benefits of leveraging the channel. Those companies are launching formal partner programs accordingly as they prepare to scale.

For more on the "coolest" of 2016, check out "CRN's Tech Midyear In Review."

Blue Medora

CEO: Nathan Owen

This startup that builds features and functionality onto VMware's vRealize cloud management platform got a boost last year when the virtualization giant participated in its $4.6 million Series A round.

Around that time, Blue Medora also established its True Visibility Channel Program.

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based startup was founded in 2007, but an extension of Oracle's systems management tools to VMware environments released two years ago put Blue Medora on the enterprise map.

In addition to Oracle and VMware, Blue Medora extends systems management solutions from New Relic, and the company's leaders say they intend to bring vRealize to Rackspace and IBM SoftLayer's public clouds.

N2W Software

CEO: Uri Wolloch

This Israeli startup was founded with the mission of easing concerns when moving infrastructure and workloads to the cloud.

A product called Cloud Protection Manager offers backup and recovery solutions optimized to safeguard data running on Amazon Web Services instances.

Cloud Protection Manager allows AWS customers to back up live production environments and immediately recover their mission-critical data and applications, including full EC2 instances, individual EBS volumes, RDS database and Redshift Clusters.

The product allows partners to implement flexible and scalable policies for backup and recovery.


CEO: Sumeet Singh

Typically, startups launch partner programs with a handful of small VARs as inaugural partners.

But AppFormix, an OpenStack specialist founded in San Jose, Calif., three years ago, launched a channel with Rackspace as its first reseller, ready to embed the startup's cloud service optimization software in the OpenStack environments deployed to all its private cloud customers.

AppFormix's technology can assess bare-metal servers, container workloads orchestrated by the Kubernetes platform originally developed by Google, and the big three public clouds: Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.

The platform's analytics tools offer cross-layer visibility, measure resource utilization, and monitor application performance for better orchestration of hybrid cloud environments. The software can identify bottlenecks and reallocate resources in real-time, or as part of long-term capacity planning.


CEO: Seth Bostock

IndependenceIT is among a new crop of companies making a splash in the emerging Workspace-as-a-Service market. WaaS implements a comprehensive cloud solution that's gaining traction in the enterprise by expanding upon the capabilities of VDI systems that simply deliver remote desktop environments.

The Allentown, Pa.-based startup's Cloud Workspace Suite offers service providers a set of automation tools to deliver remote workspaces to their workforces — Windows desktops, custom applications, data, resource management tools, and popular Software-as-a-Service applications. The solution can be deployed in just about any public cloud.


CEO: Florian Leibert

The resurgence of container tech is ushering in an era of distributed enterprise applications. Mesosphere sees itself as the platform to host those modern apps.

The startup, based in San Francisco, offers powerful enterprise capabilities based upon the Mesos open-source project some of its founders played instrumental roles in creating.

The Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System, a commercial version of the platform, turns data center nodes into cohesive computing clusters complete with scheduling and container orchestration capabilities.

The underlying technology powers many a massive web application, including Twitter and Airbnb.


CEO: Terry Cunningham

This startup out of Sunnyvale, Calif. struck a big-league partnership with Cisco Systems to contribute a vital software component for HyperFlex, the networking giant's new line of hyper-converged systems.

SpringPath's software-defined storage technology running on Cisco UCS servers, called the HX Data Platform, pools storage from solid-state and conventional hard drives and turns it into an enterprise-grade object storage system.

Cisco was so impressed it invested in the company.

Infinite Ops

CEO: Michael Fraser

Infinite Ops is another startup vying for share in the rapidly emerging Workspace-as-a-Service market, offering a console that acts as an interface layer for accessing cloud providers, workspace templates, an app store and other features.

Through the Infinite Ops platform, partners can rapidly deploy diverse services across public cloud providers, delivering to their clients fully hosted desktops, virtualized apps, plugins and cloud resources, all in less than an hour.

The Seattle-based startup recently struck a deal with Citrix Systems to build a template that will allow the virtualization vendor's partners to deploy its long-awaited cloud service on a public cloud of their choice.


CEO: Marcin Kurc

Orbitera is looking to simplify cloud commerce for the channel with a platform partners can use to build unique distribution channels and manage sales cycles, operations, billing, marketing and the deployment of cloud tools and services.

The West Hollywood, Calif.-based company enables vendors, tech partners and their channels to build relationships that facilitate bundling and delivery of cloud software and infrastructure.

Partners can extend that platform directly to their customers for use finding and evaluating the cloud solutions that best fit their needs.


CEO: Jon Mittelhauser

The cloud management startup led by Internet pioneer Jon Mittelhauser recently launched a channel program to meet surging demand from a growing base of enterprise customers, including some of the world's largest retailers, manufacturers and hospitality vendors.

The software developer, based in Campbell, Calif., wants to be the management solution for the multicloud world -- an emerging IT landscape in which enterprises are deploying complex, hybrid environments that take advantage of DevOps methodologies and distributed computing trends.

CloudBolt can manage cutting-edge data center technologies like Linux containers, software-defined networking, OpenStack and Cloud Foundry. The solution also works across multiple public cloud providers.


CEO: Ajay Gulati

ZeroStack, after coming out of stealth last year, recently launched a formal channel program.

The startup out of Mountain View, Calif., is looking to simplify OpenStack deployment through a hyper-converged appliance, and is actively recruiting a wider base of partners.

ZeroStack sells a scale-out appliance that partners can drop into a customer data center. They then connect to a Software-as-a-Service portal, and usually within an hour have their customers running on OpenStack.

ZeroStack takes care of all the configuration and management remotely, giving users the look and feel of a public cloud that actually runs on their own infrastructure.