The 10 Coolest Networking Startups Of 2015 (So Far)

Networking Newcomers

As the networking world is changing at a rapid pace in 2015, industry leaders are focusing on creating software, cloud and professional service solutions as opposed to solely building hardware products. The industry transition stems from the broader adoption of software-defined networking and the realization that the Internet of Things is not just forward-thinking, but actually being implemented today.

Here are 10 networking startups that are shaking up the market in 2015 thus far.

"CRN's Tech Midyear In Review


CEO: Richard Napolitano

With the appointment of new CEO Richard Napolitano in late 2014, Plexxi is striving to be a top competitor in the emerging SDN market by making products more agile and cost-effective.

In July, the Nashua, N.H.-based networking vendor unveiled its next-generation line of switches, which consolidates the network fabric into a single tier, emphasizing applications over infrastructure as the main priority while eliminating the need for multiple switch types found in traditional architectures.

Napolitano told CRN that Plexxi is expecting to pull in more than 10 times the revenue this year than it did last year because of some big federal wins. In June, the vendor partnered with CloudGov Technologies to extend its reach in the federal and commercial markets, where CloudGov will distribute Plexxi's hardware and software offerings as part of its solutions.


CEO: Larry Lang

The networking virtualization startup snatched up industry veteran Larry Lang as its new CEO in June. Lang was previously vice president and general manager of mobile Internet business at Cisco and CEO of Quorum.

This year, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company launched its latest SDN software, PLUMgrid Open Networking Suite 3.0 for OpenStack, which includes new features, operational tools and expanded service insertion for third-party applications.

PLUMgrid also recently partnered with Rackspace to create an integrated OpenStack private cloud solution, an also formed an integration alliance with Huawei to enable simplified deployments of OpenStack for SDN and NFV.

Big Switch Networks

CEO: Douglas Murray

The software-defined networking specialist is poised to disrupt the switching market through its SDN innovations as the demand in the data center increases for bare metal, white-label switches.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor designs and develops bare-metal networking fabrics for the enterprise, service provider and data centers.

The company's Big Cloud Fabric offering has been a driving growth factor over the past year. BSN revamped its flagship product, Big Cloud Fabric, with the launch of Big Cloud Fabric 2.5 in January -- with enhancements to fabric analytics, to cloud orchestration and for hypervisor environments -- which supports VMware's vSphere and integrates with VMware's vCenter.

BSN also upgraded its partner program in February to include new market development funds for new partners and additional discounts for deal registration.


CEO: Avi Freedman

Exploding out of stealth mode this year is cloud-based network visibility specialist Kentik, which recently captured $12 million in a Series A funding round.

The San Francisco-based startup unveiled its Kentik Detect platform in June, touting it as the industry's first cloud-based network visibility and analytics solution capable of processing trillions of network data records while providing critical network intelligence at a multi-terabit scale in real-time, according to a release. Kentik says the platform enables full visibility across an "unlimited number" of networks of any size for real-time insights into network traffic activity and DDoS attacks.

Kentik's leadership team consists of executives hailing from companies such as Akamai, CloudFlare, YouTube and Netflix.

Pluribus Networks

CEO: Kumar Srikantan

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Pluribus Networks is trying to revolutionize data center operations by delivering SDN as an open application platform. Pluribus touts its flagship product, Netvisor, as the industry's first distributed network hypervisor operating system -- converging compute, network, storage and virtualization with an open, programmable approach.

The SDN startup recently unveiled a partnership with Dell by which Pluribus will port and support its Pluribus Open Netvisor Linux operating system onto Dell's family of open networking switches.

Pluribus also nabbed $50 million in a Series D round of funding earlier this year.


CEO: James Liao

Pica8 is riding the software wave and white-box switching trend by creating OS software for bare-metal switches that simplifies the integration of SDN into data centers.

Pica8 CEO James Liao recently told CRN that his open solutions are winning customers at a breakneck pace compared with rivals Cisco and Juniper Networks. For the past six months, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has worked with a variety of service provider customers, telcos, cloud providers and regional ISPs to introduce features and products that enable a wider variety of services to its end customers with a focus on OpEx reduction.

In June, Pica8 unveiled its support of Edge-Core Power over Ethernet (PoE) white-box switches. The new products are aimed at providing dramatic savings and increased security for ISPs, telcos and cloud providers.


CEO: Dan Mihai Dumitriu

The network virtualization startup Midokura is diving deep into OpenStack. In May, the Japanese-based company unveiled an update to its open-source Midokura Enterprise MidoNet solution. The production-ready solution offers enhanced operational and management features along with new support for OpenStack Kilo, container-based environments like Docker as well as Puppet.

Midokura made its debut in the U.S. market in late 2012 and has been making significant inroads in the country as of late. Midokura recently formed an alliance with Dell where the two companies will have joint go-to-market strategies, a global reseller agreement and have MidoNet complement Dell's networking and server infrastructure.


CEO: Kumar Ramachandran

The software-defined WAN startup CloudGenix says its software-based CloudGenix ION solution alleviates complex, hardware-based networking by simplifying how WANs are designed and managed. The startup says it allows organizations to deploy cloud and Software-as-a-Services applications in minutes and extends data-center-class security to the network edge.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup snatched up $25 million in a Series B funding round in May. The company also added a strategic SDN player to its advisory board this year in Martin Casado, senior vice president and general manager of networking and security business at VMware, as well as adding Enrique Salem, the former CEO of Symantec, to its board of directors.

Affirmed Networks

CEO: Hassan Ahmed

The network virtualization specialist Affirmed Networks says it's leading the industry in deployment of NFV-based solutions for mobile network operators worldwide. Affirmed recently joined the Wind River Titanium Cloud ecosystem program, designed to accelerate time to market for service providers and telecom equipment manufacturers deploying infrastructure based on NFV.

The Acton, Mass.-based startup's flagship Mobile Content Cloud solution is now deployed in more than 20 service provider networks around the globe, the company said, while there are also 40 trials underway. The solution is touted as combining all of the functionality required for any 2G/3G/4G Packet Core network, policy and charging control, content and video optimization and Wi-Fi connectivity.


CEO: Sanjay Uppal

The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup VeloCloud says it hopes to reinvent wide area networking through software-defined initiatives.

VeloCloud revealed this year several joint partnerships to broaden its global distribution reach including alliances with Freewire and Japan-based Net One Systems.

The networking startup says it's the first to provide all the elements needed to achieve a cloud-delivered SD-WAN including a cloud network for enterprise-grade connection to cloud and enterprise applications, software-defined control and automation, and virtual services delivery.