The 10 Coolest Cloud Application Startups Of 2016 (So Far)

Cloud App Innovators

Software-as-a-Service, the original cloud services delivery model, has become the preferred means for many businesses big and small of accessing their professional applications, enabling a once unprecedented combination of accessibility, accountability and ease of deployment.

While the SaaS landscape has become crowded over the last decade with cutting-edge software developers building apps entirely born in the cloud, and just about every legacy giant rejiggering popular tools for cloud delivery, there's still a lot of room for innovation.

Here are 10 relatively young companies offering solutions that broaden our notions of what can be achieved by deploying applications in the cloud while solving diverse real-world problems for all types of business users.

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

Cloud Cruiser

CEO: Dave Zabrowski (pictured)

This cloud management vendor, based in San Jose, Calif. released its first SaaS product earlier this year.

Cloud Cruiser specializes in helping customers meter, assess and optimize the economics of their cloud spends, and its new cloud app delivers the same monitoring and predictive capabilities of the management platform, but in an easier-to-consume fashion for many of its customers.

Developing a simpler delivery mechanism was motivated by seeing customers who, more than a year into a cloud-transformation initiative, realized they hadn't put in all the appropriate controls to take advantage of cloud self-service and provisioning in a responsible, fiscally practical manner, the company told CRN.


CEO: Chris Dalton (pictured)

The Salesforce ecosystem, powered by its AppExchange online marketplace, has become a major source of innovative cloud apps fulfilling unique needs of businesses large and small.

CloudCraze, based in Deerfield, Ill., is an example of the success that ecosystem is breeding. The ISV's eCommerce solution for Salesforce offers retailers a self-branded marketplace built entirely on the Salesforce1 mobile platform.

Customers can deploy B2B or B2C storefronts that share data and processes with their CRM systems. CloudCraze offers a configurable user interface, with merchandising, pricing, promotion and catalog content management functionality, as well as integration to shipping, inventory and tax solutions.


CEO: Elad Rave (pictured)

This innovative company, born in Israel but now operating out of offices in San Francisco, is implementing a SaaS model to accelerate the Internet for its clients.

Teridion's Global Cloud Network boosts inbound and outbound traffic by optimizing the route those packets follow across global backbone networks.

The cloud-based software achieves up to 20X performance enhancements by monitoring the entire global network of networks in real-time, and identifying speedy green zones and congested red zones.


CEO: John Burton (pictured)

Nintex transitioned from systems integrator into cloud software developer by leveraging a strong relationship with Microsoft. Now, the company is a major provider of workflow automation software to global enterprise customers, helping them simplify business processes.

The company offers a portal for partners through which they can manage their relationships with customers and the vendor, register deals; obtain sales resources, demo environments and training; and efficiently co-sell.


CEO: Craig Soules (pictured)

Natero, a startup based in Mountain View, Calif., develops business-to-business cloud software that helps sales and marketing professionals using a variety of cloud apps to leverage the power of big data.

The cloud-based tools automatically aggregate and mine all sources of customer data to uncover actionable insights.

Natero can capture granular usage data directly from a SaaS product and integrate with key customer data hubs, such as CRM, support and billing software. The software can scale its real-time data collection capabilities without compromising performance.


CEO: Alexis Richardson (pictured)

Docker has given rise to a sprawling ecosystem of technology partners looking to advance the revolution Linux containers are delivering to the data center.

Weaveworks is one startup carving a niche in monitoring networks running those Linux containers.

The London-based company's Weave Cloud provides a SaaS solution to optimize container deployments and manage micro-services built with Docker.

Weaveworks just closed a $15 million funding round led by Alphabet's venture arm, formerly Google Ventures.

The company plans to use that money to build tools for deploying, monitoring and managing cloud-native container environments.


CEO: Jay Chapel (pictured)

This startup, founded only last year, looks to help AWS users reduce their cloud spends by scheduling their metered computing services to turn off when not needed.

The company based in Dulles, Va., says it can slash AWS bills by more than 60 percent

That "cloud parking" functionality can be achieved through a simple app, with no up-front costs.


CEO: Akshay Sabhikhi (pictured)

This Austin, Texas-based startup founded by former IBM executives with deep ties to Big Blue's Watson team offers self-learning, cognitive computing software.

Cognitive Scale's analytic solutions, specialized for specific verticals, involve computer learning algorithms that can reprogram themselves with continued use, constantly improving the quality of the intelligence they produce. The technology ingests structured and unstructured data to deliver insights to consumers and business executives.


CEO: Ali Ghodsi (pictured)

Databricks, founded by the creators of Apache Spark, is at the forefront of efforts to bring the in-memory big data processing engine to a wider base of enterprise customers.

The company, headquartered in San Francisco, offers a cloud-based workspace for describing, executing and managing big data processes.

Users can access Databrick's capabilities through a SaaS model that makes it easy to run Spark jobs on Amazon Web Services.


CEO: Jon Lee (pictured)

ProsperWorks developed the first CRM to win Google's seal of approval. The curated, cross-platform application suite integrates with Gmail, Google Drive, Hangouts and the rest of the Apps suite, allowing sales agents to interact with customers, or work on proposals, within Google's cloud-based tools.

The San Francisco-based startup focuses on helping small businesses track customer contacts and sales leads. It was the first ISV to adopt Material Design, Google's design language, for its user interface, creating a unified user experience across the web app, mobile apps and Chrome extension.