20 Coolest Cloud Software Companies
The move to replace on-premises software with cloud-based applications was already well underway in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many employees to work from home.
Businesses and organizations that had not already made the transition to SaaS business applications accelerated their cloud software initiatives as they looked for more flexible ways to support their workers under conditions that changed almost overnight.
Here are 20 cloud software companies, from startups to some of the industry’s most established software vendors, that are driving the evolution of cloud software today.
Adobe got its start in 1982 in founder John Warnock’s garage in Los Altos, Calif., developing printing software and the Adobe Postscript page description language.
Today Adobe develops and markets a broad range of creative, marketing and document management applications ranging from the ubiquitous Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Photoshop to the Adobe Experience Cloud lineup of content management, customer engagement, commerce, and marketing campaign and advertising management applications.
In December Adobe acquired Workfront, which develops a work management platform for marketers and marketing teams as they deal with large volumes of content and manage personalized marketing campaigns.
The company recorded revenue of $12.87 billion in its recently ended fiscal 2020.
Alluxio develops a data orchestration platform that bridges the gap between data storage and compute systems across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, improving the performance of data-hungry applications such as business analytics and machine learning.
Alluxio founder and CEO HaoyuanLi developed the company’s core technology in 2014 as part of Project Tachyon at the U.C. Berkeley AMPLab.
Founded in 2017, Aparavi originally focused on data management for data backup tasks. But the startup has increasingly set its sights on something bigger: helping businesses and organizations deal with challenges around data chaos, risk and opportunity in an increasingly distributed IT world.
In 2020 Aparavi launched its Data Intelligence and Automation Platform for finding, classifying, automating and governing distributed data across on-premises and cloud systems for a range of tasks including data discovery and access, data retention and protection, data governance, risk and compliance.
The system provides analytics, machine learning and collaboration tools with access to distributed data—both structured and unstructured—helping users transform it into a competitive asset.
AVEVA, a subsidiary of Schneider Electric, offers a huge portfolio of operational industrial applications including plant operations, process manufacturing and asset performance management. Some of the applications were originally developed under the popular Wonderware brand.
Today industry and manufacturing operations are becoming increasingly digitized and AVEVA’s software is playing a role in making that happen. The company’s AVEVA Connect cloud platform, powered by industrial artificial intelligence capabilities, provides a central location for accessing the vendor’s industrial software portfolio. The platform is also serving as a digital transformation hub for many AVEVA customers.
Last year the company launched AVEVA Select, a new program for the company’s channel partners.
Cloudera develops its Cloudera Data Platform (CDP), an enterprise cloud data system for conducting a range of big data tasks including data engineering, machine learning, data hub, data warehouse, data flow/streaming and operational database functions.
Cloudera and its chief rival Hortonworks originally developed their product lines around the Hadoop big data technology. But when Hadoop failed to take off as many expected, Cloudera bought Hortonworks in January 2019 and, after some turbulence in 2019 that saw the departure of CEO Tom Reilly, has resumed revenue growth under CEO Robert Bearden (previously Hortonworks’ CEO).
In August Cloudera announced the general availability of Cloudera Data Platform Private Cloud, bringing the capabilities and economics of CDP to the data center.
Confluent is one of several big data companies that investors are eagerly awaiting an initial public offering and possibly repeating Snowflake’s huge success with its 2020 IPO.
Businesses and organizations today increasingly need to process and analyze data in real time. Confluent’s flagship product, the Confluent Platform, organizes and manages massive volumes of streaming data and makes it available to operational applications, business analytics tools and information workers.
The event stream processing software is based on Apache Kafka, open-source stream processing technology originally developed by Confluent’s founders while working at LinkedIn.
In April 2020 Confluent launched “Project Metamorphosis” to develop new products and capabilities to help customers adopt the Confluent platform. The company certainly has the resources: Confluent raised $250 million in Series E funding that month, bringing its total funding to more than $455 million and vaulting its market valuation to $4.5 billion.
Databricks, founded in 2013 by the developers of the popular Spark big data processing engine, has been one of the hottest IT startups in recent years and is another big data company that market watchers have pegged as a candidate for “the next big IPO.”
The company’s product portfolio includes the Databricks Unified Data Service and the Databricks Lakehouse Platform. The company also develops big data tools such as the Delta Engine query execution software, introduced in June, and SQL Analytics for running SQL queries against massive data lakes, which debuted in November.
Just this week Databricks said it raised a stunning $1 billion in a Series G round of funding that brought the company’s post-money valuation to $28 billion. That’s on top of the $897 million in financing the company raised in earlier rounds of financing – including a $400 million Series F round in 2019 – and some observers are looking for the company to go public this year in an IPO to rival last year’s Snowflake blockbuster.
Businesses are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to boost the IQ of their operational and data analytics applications.
Dataiku develops a collaborative data science platform used by data scientists, data analysts and data engineers for a range of big data tasks including self-service analytics, predictive analytics and putting machine learning models into production.
In August 2020 Dataiku, founded in 2013, raised $100 million in Series D funding, bringing its total financing to more than $246 million, according to the Crunchbase website.
Co-Founder , CEO
Leveraging big data for data analysis and machine learning is a critical component of digital transformation initiatives. And yet many businesses and organizations struggle with the challenge.
DataRobot markets what it describes as an end-to-end AI and machine learning platform for data preparation and exploration, automated machine learning model creation and deployment, and deploying and managing AI-based business applications.
The company develops its software for use by data scientists, data engineers, business analysts, software engineers and AI operators in IT and DevOps.
DataRobot raised $270 million in a pre-IPO round of funding in November.
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Application development and DevOps are key components—and all too frequently stumbling blocks—of digital transformation initiatives.
GitLab offers a complete, cloud-based DevOps platform that businesses and organizations use to manage all phases of the software life-cycle process including development project planning, CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous deployment), and DevSecOps security and source code management.
The company also provides a range of DevOps professional services around software implementation, migration, integration, education and innersourcing (helping programmers within an organization share resources). And the GitLab community now stands at 3,000 individual contributors and more than 2 million users.
Gitlab just scored an OEM deal with IBM under which IBM will sell GitLab Ultimate for IBM Cloud Paks. The company also recently completed integrating DevSecOps technology from its 2020 acquisitions of Peach Tech and Fuzzit.
Just finding data scattered across distributed, hybrid-cloud IT environments is a problem. To manage all that siloed data Hammerspace has developed a global file system that makes it possible to orchestrate data at scale, making application data portable, protected and high performance.
The company puts it this way: What Kubernetes does for containers, Hammerspace does for data. Hammerspace’s software uses AI and metadata-intensive indexing to manage what it calls “storageless data” to make Data as a Service a reality.
Founded in 2018, Hammerspace launched its channel program at the end of 2019 and now counts Arrosoft Solutions, aXcelerate Networks, Champion Solutions Group and Redapt among its channel partners.
MariaDB is one of a new generation of database developers that’s challenging the established players like Oracle and Microsoft in the database arena. The company offers the popular community developed, commercially supported MariaDB relational database that’s used for both transactional computing and analytical tasks.
MariaDB was founded in 2009 by the original developers of the popular MySQL database (which is now owned by Oracle) and MariaDB was originally built on the MySQL code base.
In March the company launched MariaDB SkySQL, a fully managed cloud Database as a Service that also supports transactional and analytical applications. SkySQL uses Kubernetes for container orchestration; the ServiceNow workflow engine for inventory, configuration and workflow management; the Prometheus free software for real-time monitoring and alerting; and the Grafana open-source analytics and visualization application for data visualization.
Salesforce has been one of the pioneering cloud software vendors since its 1999 launch, setting the pace for the industry with its Software-as-a-Service sales force automation/CRM applications and, later, its expanded portfolio of cloud-based marketing, customer service, analytics and other applications.
Perhaps most remarkable is that where many pioneers often flame out after their early years, Salesforce has continued to grow at a breakneck pace. Sales in fiscal 2020 grew 29 percent to $17.1 billion and are expected to exceed $21 billion (for 23 percent year-over-year growth) in the about-to-be-completed fiscal 2021.
What makes Salesforce especially worth watching in 2021 is the company’s Dec.1 deal to acquire collaboration software developer Slack for $27.7 billion—the largest acquisition in Salesforce’s history. The two companies expect to complete the acquisition this year and begin integrating their products: CEO Marc Benioff’s vision is that the Slack application will become the front-end “engagement layer” for the entire Salesforce cloud software portfolio.
One of the industry’s largest business application vendors, SAP has been pivoting to the cloud for several years now with its ERP, CRM, supply chain management, human resource management, database, analytics and other software.
SAP’s cloud software revenue exceeded 8 billion euros (U.S.$9.7 billion) in 2020, up 17 percent from 2019 and more than twice the company’s revenue from traditional software license sales.
Observers will be watching what moves CEO Christian Klein makes in 2021. (Klein was named co-CEO of the Walldorf, Germany-based company in late 2019 after the departure of Bill McDermott and became sole CEO in April 2020.) Under his direction, for example, SAP this year is issuing an IPO for Qualtrics, the experience management application vendor SAP bought in 2018 for $8 billion. (SAP will retain a majority stake in Qualtrics.)
Workflow software developer ServiceNow has been one of the fastest-growing companies in the IT industry in recent years and the question for 2021 is how well the company can maintain that momentum.
ServiceNow develops digital workflow applications for IT operations, for employees and for customers—all running on a cloud computing platform. The idea is that the company’s workflow technology structures and automates business processes, helping businesses run more smoothly.
In November ServiceNow struck a deal to acquire Element AI with a plan to apply its leading-edge artificial intelligence technology to the ServiceNow platform in such areas as text and language, chat, images, search, question response, and summarization functions. Element AI was ServiceNow’s fourth AI-related acquisition in 2020: Earlier in the year the company bought Loom Systems, Passage AI and Sweagle.
Data cloud platform provider Snowflake made a huge splash in 2020 when the company’s September IPO turned out to be one of the biggest of the year, giving it a bigger market capitalization (currently around $80 billion) than such leading IT vendors as Dell Technologies and VMware.
Snowflake initially positioned itself as a cloud-based data warehouse service provider, but the company has broadened its offerings to include a range of cloud-based data management services including data science and data sharing. That means it’s competing with established giants like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft as well as smaller companies and startups offering various cloud-based big data products and services.
In November Snowflake launched a number of new platform features and capabilities that enable customers to work with more data types, exert better control over data and more easily access data services. New development capabilities called Snowpark allow data engineers, data scientists and developers to write code in languages of their choice and execute workloads such as data preparation and ETL (extract, transform, load) on Snowflake.
In 2021 partners will be watching to gauge the progress of its channel efforts, following the launch of the Snowflake Partner Network in June 2020.
Splunk develops what it calls the “Data-to-Everything” platform for collecting, indexing, managing and analyzing machine data—the data generated by IT systems, sensors, industrial machines, security networks and more. The company’s software is most frequently implemented for IT management, DevOps and security-related tasks.
In October the company doubled down on the IT and DevOps space with its new Observability Suite that incorporates technology from a series of 2019 and 2020 acquisitions, including Plumbr, Flowmill and Rigor, along with several existing Splunk products.
The company has been leading with its Splunk Cloud offering to help customers with their cloud transformation efforts and drive its own shift to a cloud-based product portfolio.
Sumo Logic competes in the same arena as Splunk with its cloud-based machine data analytics platform that the company says provides “continuous intelligence” for a range of cloud monitoring, log data management and IT SIEM security tasks.
Sumo Logic successfully went public in September.
Aneel Bhusri and Chano Fernandez
Workday was founded in 2005 by David Duffield and Aneel Bhusri who previously founded application company PeopleSoft (which was acquired by Oracle in 2005.)
Workday initially focused on developing cloud-based human capital management applications such as payroll, recruiting and employee development. While HR remains the company’s biggest revenue generator, sales of Workday’s financial management and enterprise planning applications are expanding rapidly—more than 50 percent every year for the financial software.
All that is putting Workday in more direct competition with SAP, Oracle and other ERP application vendors.
Zoho got its start as a CRM application company but has expanded to provide a broad range of cloud-based software particularly targeted toward small and mid-size businesses.
The company’s portfolio of 45-plus applications includes sales and marketing, email and collaboration, finance, HR, customer service, IT and help desk.
Zoho has been especially successful in assembling many of its applications into line-of-business bundles (Finance Plus, CRM Plus and Creator Plus) and the Zoho One package of 40-plus integrated applications for all operations within a small business.
In September the company launched Zoho Workplace, a single software platform that combines collaboration, productivity and communications tools and integrates them with other business processes.