The 10 Coolest Networking Startups Of 2013 (So Far)

Hot Networking Newbies

With technologies like software-defined networking (SDN) and hosted collaboration emerging in full force, the networking and unified communications (UC) world is buzzing with startups hoping to get in on the action. Here are 10 networking startups that especially stood out so far in 2013.


CEO: Dave Husak

SDN startup Plexxi emerged from stealth mode in December, carrying along with it a debut line of switches and millions in VC dollars. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company has been keeping busy ever since.

So far this year, Plexxi has announced a new partnership with storage vendor SolidFire -- an alliance Plexxi said will facilitate the flow of storage and application traffic over the same network -- and bulked up its executive team with former Juniper Networks executives including Michael Bushong, who led product management for Juniper's Junos operating system.

What's more, Plexxi said its concept of "affinity networking" even received a tip-of-the-hat from Cisco CEO John Chambers at this year's Cisco Live event.


CEO: Dan Mihai Dumitriu

Midokura has stood out this year among a growing pool of SDN startups vying for investor dollars. In April, the Japanese company announced it raised $17.3 million in Series A funding, a financial boost it said it will use to fuel its go-to-market strategy and R&D.

Midokura made its debut in the U.S. market last October, touting MidoNet, its flagship SDN platform. According to Midokura, MidoNet is a distributed, decentralized virtual platform that decouples a user's cloud assets from its network infrastructure, creating a software abstraction layer programmed to act as a go-between between end hosts and the physical network. In other words, MidoNet allows users to virtualize their network stacks, and more easily leverage multivendor, physical network appliances in a software-based domain.


CEO: Simen Teigre

Videoconferencing startup Pexip made its official entry into the U.S. market this year with the launch of Pexip Infinity, its flagship and software-based video platform.

The Oslo, Norway-based startup, which is the brainchild of several former Cisco and Tandberg executives, describes Infinity as a "truly virtualized conferencing platform," able to work on any existing base of business video endpoints, as well as with software-based clients like Microsoft Lync. The platform also conserves WAN bandwidth, Pexip says, by allowing participants to dial into a local node to join a meeting, rather than one that is centralized or shared by all participants.

Pexip plans to sell Infinity 100 percent through the channel in the U.S.


CEO: Michael Grant

Cloudscaling has been thrust into the spotlight for a number of reasons in 2013, including big customer wins, a new partnership with Juniper and its first partner program.

The San Francisco-based startup, which develops OpenStack-powered cloud infrastructures, rolled out in April its Cloudscaling Elastic Cloud partner program for value-added resellers, independent hardware and software vendors and system integrators. Cloudscaling told CRN when unveiling the program that it's the first company to offer a channel program specific to OpenStack.

In addition, Cloudscaling announced this year investor backing from Juniper and Seagate, along with customer wins with LivingSocial, EVault, Ubisoft and DataFort.

Blue Jeans Network

CEO: Krish Ramakrishnan

2013 has been a busy year for videoconferencing startup Blue Jeans Network. In addition to rolling out the first major refresh of its cloud-based meeting room service, Blue Jeans 2.0, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company also celebrated its two-year anniversary and some of the stellar growth it's seen since its 2011 debut.

Blue Jeans' service stands apart from other videoconferencing platforms in that it's "built from the cloud up," as the company puts it, meaning it's consumed entirely as a hosted service, and can work across virtually any video or audio protocols. Users can host, schedule and manage their own videoconferences via an easy-to-navigate Web interface.

The concept, according to Blue Jeans, has taken off. The company told CRN this year that the run-rate of its service has gone from zero to roughly 65 million minutes a year since its launch in 2011.

Big Switch Networks

CEO: Guido Appenzeller

Network virtualization startup Big Switch Networks had a big year in 2012, bringing its total venture funding to $39 million, kick-starting commercial availability of its products, and announcing plans to sell those products 100 percent through the channel. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup has kept its foot on the gas in 2013, announcing, for one thing, Switch Light, an open-source thin switching platform meant to streamline the adoption of OpenFlow protocols and software-defined networks, in general.

Big Switch said the new software, which is slated for availability during the second half of the year, frees customers from being locked down to a specific networking vendor or architecture, giving them a wider range of hardware options, all while lowering operational costs through centralized network automation. Switch Light can be deployed as both a virtual switch for server hypervisors or in a silicon-based physical switching platform, Big Switch said.


CEO: Craig Elliott

SDN startup Pertino came to market with its first product in 2013, unveiling a cloud-based networking solution that lets users quickly deploy LAN over the cloud without the need for any additional hardware.

"We allow customers to build a cloud-based network in minutes that connects users and IT resources from anywhere," Todd Krautkremer, vice president of marketing, told CRN at the launch. "Networks have always been about places. We're about people. If you have an Internet connection, you can create a network."

Pertino's service will be especially beneficial for on-the-go workers, Krautkremer said, letting them tap into corporate resources regardless of whether they have access to office-based LANs. "Users are increasingly mobile," he said. "As they work more outside the office network, the network itself needs to be outside the office."


CEO: Awais Nemat

After two years in the making, buzzed-about SDN startup PlumGrid finally took the wraps off its Virtual Network Infrastructure (VNI) platform this June.

The new PlumGrid VNI platform is targeted at enterprises and cloud services providers that are building out private or public cloud data centers, and is meant to help these customers create, copy and deploy a secure, multitenant virtual network in just seconds, PlumGrid says.

The software-only VNI solution leverages PlumGrid's own IO Visor technology, or, as PlumGrid puts it, a virtualized IO that creates on-demand, programmable networks called "Virtual Domains." This feature, according to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, allows businesses to replicate their physical network infrastructures in a virtual environment without the need for any new hardware or changes to existing hardware infrastructures.

Tely Labs

CEO: Sreekanth Ravi

Tely Labs, based in Redwood City, Calif., has made several moves in 2013 intended to grow both its channel and its family of telyHD videoconferencing systems.

For starters, Tely Labs launched telyHD Pro, its latest videoconferencing system that offers a slew of new features, including interoperability with standards-based systems like those from Polycom or Cisco, integration with Blue Jeans Networks' videoconferencing service, and a one-year subscription to Tely Lab's telyCloud service.

Tely Labs also extended its reach to the channel this year, establishing a partnership with visual communications distributor PicturePhone, through which the telyHD Pro system will be sold through PicturePhone resellers.

Saisei Networks

CEO: Bill Beckett

Saisei Networks used this year's Open Networking Summit to tease its forthcoming network traffic visibility software it says has "customers waiting" around the globe.

Saisei, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., specifically shed light on its Virtualized Internet Traffic Management platform, a software-based tool that helps network operators better manage network traffic, resources and applications. But the platform's stand-out feature, according to Saisei, is that it's completely software-based and can run on almost any standard x86-based platform, freeing users who "feel locked down with nonperforming vendors" because of proprietary hardware.