2017 Software-Defined Data Center 50

Putting The Pieces Together

The software-defined data center is here. Problem is, one just can't call the distributor or vendor and order one.

The idea of the software-defined data center, which replaces proprietary hardware-based server, storage, networking and other equipment with the equivalent software functionality running on commodity servers, has been building for a couple years. After all, who wouldn't want to replace expensive, proprietary hardware with software-driven technology that is centrally managed, is adaptable to changing needs, can be updated and patched automatically, and can even be paid for as a service.

CRN has brought together this list of 50 companies on the forefront of developing the software-defined data center. Actually, 49 companies, with VMware included separately from Dell EMC given its own prominence in this industry. Prepare to be amazed.


Shawn Farshchi, President, CEO

Headquarters: Milpitas, Calif.

Aryaka’s Global SD-WAN technology combines a purpose-built private network; SD-WAN, optimization and acceleration techniques; cloud connectivity; and network visibility in a single offering that is delivered as a service. The company's MyAryaka customer portal offers businesses end-to-end network and application visibility.

Avi Networks

Amit Pandey, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Avi's Vantage Platform separates the networking control plane for central management from the data plane of distributed load balancers as a way to offer scalable application-centric services in SDN, OpenStack, VMware, container, bare metal or public cloud environments.

Big Switch Networks

Douglas Murray, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

The Big Cloud Fabric leaf/spine SDN fabric from Big Switch Networks supports open networking switches. It provides a single pane of glass in OpenStack environments for network provisioning, troubleshooting, visibility and analytics. The company also offers the Big Monitoring Fabric SDN packet broker.

Bigleaf Networks

Joel Mulkey, CEO

Headquarters: Beaverton, Ore.

Bigleaf Networks provides an intelligent networking service that optimizes internet and cloud performance by dynamically choosing the best connection based on real-time usage and diagnostics. The company tunnels customer traffic through its Cloud Access Network, enabling its SD-WAN platform to prioritize and fail over applications.

Brocade Communications Systems

Lloyd Carney, CEO

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

Brocade has a long history in storage and IP networking behind its vendor-agnostic SDN and NFV technologies. The company's Virtual Application Delivery Controller, Virtual Router and SDN Controller provide customers with an agile programmable network, with line-rate bandwidth of up to 80 Gbps.

Cisco Systems

Chuck Robbins, CEO

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

Cisco, traditionally the leading networking vendor, is also a leader in SDN technology with its Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) for data centers, Cisco APIC Enterprise Module (APIC-EM) for the enterprise, and the Cisco Intelligent WAN for SD-WAN.

Citrix Systems

Kirill Tatarinov, President, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Citrix, known for its wide range of virtualization and cloud technologies including application and desktop virtualization, is also in the SD-WAN market with its NetScaler SD-WAN offering, which combines real-time path selection, edge routing, end-to-end quality of service and WAN optimization.


Kumar Ramachandran, CEO

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

CloudGenix is the developer of CloudGenix ION, a lightweight, instant-on software-defined WAN the company said reduces costs and increases elasticity while offering vendor independence. The CloudGenix ION fabric can be layered on existing networks as needed to provide secure connections with the CloudGenix endpoints.

Coho Data

Ramana Jonnala, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Coho Data is the developer of the Coho DataStream Architecture, a scale-out storage architecture for private clouds that the company said offers high performance and simplified management at public cloud capacity pricing. The offering is tuned for flash storage with performance of up to 320,000 IOPS.


George Mulhern, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: Boise, Idaho

Cradlepoint provides seamless WAN deployment and management via its NetCloud platform. It includes Enterprise Cloud Manager for zero-touch deployment and remote management of multi-WAN branch and in-vehicle routers and IoT gateways, and NetCloud Engine for virtual cloud networking that leverages cloud, SDN and NFV technologies.

Cumulus Networks

Josh Leslie, CEO

Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.

Cumulus Networks is the developer of the Cumulus Linux open network operating system that helps customers to automate, customize and scale using web-scale principles similar to how the world's largest data centers do, all without the need for specialized hardware.

DataCore Software

George Teixeira, President, CEO

Headquarters: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

DataCore develops the SANsymphony family of software-defined storage and virtual SAN offerings for scaling storage architectures for customers using industry-standard server hardware. The company's DataCore Hyper-converged Virtual SAN provides remote and branch office environments with high-availability, low-latency capabilities.


Marc Fleischmann, CEO

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.

Datera's software-defined storage technology provides elastic block storage for private cloud infrastructures. The company's software works across any x86 server, or can be purchased as part of a complete all-flash or hybrid-flash appliance. Datera last year exited stealth mode with $40 million in the bank.

Dell EMC

Michael Dell, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: Round Rock, Texas

Thanks to last year's merger of Dell and EMC, the company provides a wide range of software-defined storage technologies. Many of those were developed from the company's storage offerings including ScaleIO, Elastic Cloud Storage, Isilon, VIPR Controller, and partnerships with Scality and Nexenta.


Ben Golub, CEO

Headquarters: San Francisco

Docker, the company behind the open-source Docker platform, is almost synonymous with containers. Its technology allows applications to be created and run in containers working across nearly any infrastructure. The company partners with Microsoft to extend Docker Engine and Docker Datacenter benefits to Windows Server customers.


Mike Burica, President, CEO

Headquarters: Plymouth, Minn.

Ecessa, an early developer of WAN and network security technology, is now best-known for its WANworX SD-WAN technology. WANworX lets enterprises seamlessly connect all their locations with internet and cloud-based resources via multiple WAN links from different carriers to support diverse data paths.

Elfiq Networks

Robert Vincent, CEO

Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec

Elfiq Networks connects edge hardware or virtual devices to central data centers or the cloud to form SD-WAN, with Elfiq Link Balancers supporting multipath routing and SSL AVPNs. The company's VLVX virtualized edge instances, or Cloud Connector in Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure clouds, are managed by Elfiq Central.


Gary Quinn, President, CEO

Headquarters: Melville, N.Y.

FlaconStor's FreeStor software-defined technology provides intelligent abstraction of the storage to separate the storage capabilities from the hardware, predictive analytics to provide insight into storage issues, intelligent tools to take proactive and reactive actions, and pricing based on business requirements.

FatPipe Networks

Ragula Bhaskar, CEO

Headquarters: Salt Lake City, Utah

SD-WAN provider FatPipe Networks offers FatPipe Orchestrator, a single point of management that provides rapid, zero-touch provisioning of branches. Orchestrator enhances the company's FatPipe MPSec (Multi-Path Security) technology with open APIs for network integration and central policy management.

Formation Data

Mark Lewis, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: Fremont, Calif.

Formation Data's FormationOne is a hyper-scale, dynamic storage platform for enterprises that virtualizes data, hardware and infrastructure across standard x86 server hardware. It scales to over 1,000 nodes per system to deliver elastic storage services across a variety of use cases in multitenant environments.

Glue Networks

Jeff Gray, CEO

Headquarters: Sacramento, Calif.

The Glueware platform is a development platform for software-defined WANs based on Glue Networks' intelligent orchestration engine. It provides the intelligence to understand interdependencies between features, policies and network architecture, and provides advanced provisioning and network construction features in cloud, on-premise, and multivendor environments.


Avinash Lakshman, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Hedvig's software-defined storage offering reduces enterprise storage costs while helping IT departments migrate applications to the cloud. The Hedvig Distributed Storage Platform combines block, file and object storage for bare metal, hypervisor and container environments, with performance that increases as the offering scales.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Meg Whitman, President, CEO

Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.

HPE offers both software-defined storage and software-defined networking. The company's StoreVirtual software-defined storage offering supports VMware, Hyper-V and Linux. Its SDN Open Ecosystem includes an SDN app store for deploying apps directly to the HPE VAN SDN Controller, and a developer kit for creating apps for SDN-enabled devices.

Hitachi Data Systems

Ryuichi Otsuki, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

HDS's software-defined infrastructure strategy includes bringing its midrange and enterprise storage product under its own software-based management offering, the Hitachi Storage Virtualization Operation System, or SVOS. Its Hitachi Unified Compute Platform, or UCP, supports VMware NSX, while its hyper-converged infrastructure V240 supports Docker containers.


Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, CEO

Headquarters: Armonk N.Y.

Ever since IBM exited the x86-based server business, the company has thrown its storage focus at software-defined data centers with its IBM Spectrum family, which covers software-defined hybrid cloud data management, data protection, archiving, block and virtualized block storage, and object storage.

Juniper Networks

Rami Rahim, CEO

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.

Long a powerhouse in traditional IP networking, Juniper Networks is also a leading SDN provider with its Contrail solution for creating scalable virtual networks; NorthStar Controller for granular network visibility and control; and WANDL IP/MPLSView for multivendor, multiprotocol, and multilayer traffic management.


Yoram Novick, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Maxta offers both software-defined storage and software-defined hyper-converged infrastructure platforms. The company's Maxta MxSP software-defined storage technology allows hyper-converged offerings to be deployed and commodity x86-based servers with any hypervisor and any combination of storage devices, and supports OpenStack and containers.


Satya Nadella, CEO

Headquarters: Redmond, Wash.

Microsoft wants to help customers implement a complete software-defined data center connected to its Azure cloud. It is doing so with its Hyper-V compute virtualization, Storage Spaces Direct storage virtualization, and SDN technology as part of its Windows Server 2016 operating system.


Antonio J. Espinosa, President, CEO

Headquarters: Menlo Park, Calif.

MEM, the Midokura Enterprise MidoNet network virtualization platform, provides OpenStack multicloud connectivity, tracing of current and historical network traffic flows over physical and virtual devices, visibility into network consumption according to highest tenant usage, proactive port mirroring for security, and measurement of bandwidth usage.

Mushroom Networks

Cahit Jay Akin, CEO

Headquarters: San Diego

Mushroom Networks offers physical and virtual broadband and wireless appliances for SD-WAN implementations, and ties them together with its VNF Design Studio, which lets customers build virtual overlay tunnels between the appliances featuring advanced flow algorithms to optimize IP packet flows and application performance.


George Kurian, President, CEO

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.

NetApp has turned many of its storage appliances into virtualized appliances for easy migration between on-premise and cloud infrastructures, and manages them along with third-party storage in software-defined data centers with its Ontap operating system, OnCommand management suite and FlexArray virtualization software.

Nexenta Systems

Tarkan Maner, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Nexenta, which develops open-source-driven software-defined storage software, partners with vendors such as Dell in virtualized storage environments. Its flagship NexentaStor provides unified block and object storage that scales to petabytes of data, while NexentaEdge provides petabyte-scale block and storage capabilities on OpenStack clouds.

Nuage Networks

Sunil Khandekar, CEO

Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.

Nuage Networks, part of Nokia thanks to Nokia's 2015 acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, provides vendor-neutral SDN and software-defined WAN solutions that help bring together cloud networks that run on any platform, networking hardware, cloud management system and cloud provider.


Dheeraj Pandey, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

Nutanix is the hyper-converged infrastructure industry pioneer with offerings combining compute, storage and networking resources into an appliance with unified management. Its technology is software-defined for use on a wide range of qualified hardware including Dell EMC and Cisco UCS servers.


Rich Napolitano, CEO

Headquarters: Nashua, N.H.

Plexxi develops SDN software that configures a network for converged or hyper-converged infrastructures based on application requirements. The company's Plexxi Connect and Plexxi Control offerings provide a network fabric that delivers per-workload segmentation, security, optimization and visualization for private and public cloud data centers.

Pluribus Networks

Kumar Srikantan, President, CEO

Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.

Pluribus Networks provides fabric networking and analytics solutions to transform existing network infrastructures into a digital-centric business foundation. Its Virtualization-Centric Fabric provides insight, agility and security that combines SDN and network performance monitoring to help customers simplify operations and more quickly introduce new applications.

Primary Data

Lance Smith, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: Los Altos, Calif.

Primary Data's storage-agnostic DataSphere platform virtualizes data to deliver dynamic data mobility. DataSphere creates a virtualized global dataspace with an intelligent policy engine that automatically places data across file, block, and object storage according to IT-defined service level objectives.

Red Hat

Jim Whitehurst, President, CEO

Headquarters: Raleigh, N.C.

Red Hat provides a strong open-source counterpoint to the many proprietary software-defined technologies in the market with its Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating center for moving data centers to the hybrid cloud. The company also offers Gluster and Ceph software-defined storage technologies.


Jerry Kennelly, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: San Francisco

Riverbed was one of the early pioneers of SD-WAN technology, and has since expanded its software-defined business architecture to include the cloud, mobile infrastructure and infrastructure visibility. It touts its SteelConnect SD-WAN technology as application-defined because of its policy-based controls, single-click setup and scalability.


Jerome Lecat, CEO

Headquarters: San Francisco

The Scality Ring, Scality's software-defined storage, turns commodity x86 servers into unlimited storage pools for file and object data at petabyte scale. The company offers a 100 percent uptime guarantee, and scales automatically with the addition of new nodes to provide an Amazon S3-optimized cloud infrastructure.

Silver Peak

David Hughes, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Silver Peak provides SD-WAN technology for enterprises and service providers. Its Unity EdgeConnect physical or virtual appliances are deployed in branch offices, headquarters and data centers, provide secure, virtual WAN overlays, and can use any combination of underlying transport technologies without compromising network or application performance.

Sonus Networks

Ray Dolan, President, CEO

Headquarters: Westford, Mass.

Sonus provides a wide range of secure networking equipment and network management technology, including VellOS, a software-defined network control platform supporting private, hybrid and public interconnection of exchanges based on underlying network status and user policies and NFV services.


Don Jaworski, CEO

Headquarters: San Francisco

Software-defined storage developer SwiftStack provides the ability to build OpenStack-based storage clouds based on the open-source OpenStack Swift technology. SwiftStack runs on any mix of commodity hardware, and includes such capabilities as policy-based cloud storage synchronization, simple scalability, and the ability to set policies.

Talari Networks

Mark Masur, Chairman, CEO

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

Talari's SD-WAN offering creates a responsive network that adapts in real time to bandwidth demand and actual network conditions to ensure critical applications have priority. It brings continuous availability and predictable performance whether using all MPLS, hybrid WAN MPLS and broadband WAN, the internet, or wireless.


Rui Luis, CEO, CFO

Headquarters: Mississauga, Ontario

TELoIP Virtual Intelligent Network Overlay (VINO) software-defined WAN technology provides managed security and performance for businesses requiring high availability and business-critical application traffic. It offers end-to-end encryption and quality of services for all SD-WAN traffic, along with cloud managed NFV.


Sanjay Uppal, CEO

Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.

VeloCloud, which counts Cisco as an investor, provide a cloud network for enterprise-grade connection to cloud and enterprise applications, software-defined control and automation, and virtual services delivery as part of its Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN. The offering supports data plane services in the cloud and on premise.


Bill Coleman, CEO

Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.

Veritas has moved beyond its leading data protection and management technology to software-defined storage with InfoScale Storage, which supports a wide range of storage devices, operating systems and virtualization technologies to provision and manage storage using a single management tool independent of hardware types.

Versa Networks

Kelly Ahuja, CEO

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Versa Networks develops SD-WAN and software-defined security, including carrier-grade NFV software. It provides multitenancy, zero-touch provisioning, and scalability in both enterprise and service provider environments. Products include the core Versa FlexVNF virtualized network and security software, Versa Director management software and Versa Analytics.


Praveen Akkiraju, CEO

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

Viptela provides software-defined WAN technology to several Fortune 500 companies and to carriers like Verizon. Its offerings include the vSmart Cloud-based SDN-WAN Controller to centrally manage routing, policy, security, segmentation and authentication of devices; vManage Network Management System for centralized configuration and management; and vEdge routers.


Pat Gelsinger, CEO

Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.

VMware was the first to push the idea of the software-defined data center. It does so by integrating its market-leading vSphere compute virtualization, vSAN storage virtualization and NSX network virtualization technologies.