The 10 Coolest Networking Startups Of 2017

The Coolest Networking Startups

Making the network more intelligent is at the heart of some of the most innovative networking startups in 2017, with a focus on software, automation, and applications. This year saw intent-based networking jump into the mainstream spot. IT research firm Gartner said intent-based networking could be the "next big thing" in the industry as it promises to improve network availability and agility while providing intelligence and lifecycle management software for infrastructure.

Many of the startups on this list are led by executives with years of experience working at the likes of Cisco and Google, hoping to disrupt an industry going through a massive transformation. Here are the ten coolest networking startups making waves in 2017.

Get more of CRN's 2017 tech year in review.


CEO: Mansour Karam

Intent-based networking pioneer Apstra is striving to revolutionize the data center through its vendor-agnostic operating system that can collect data from any switch or server, and can cut outage and failure durations in half. The Apstra Operating System (AOS) sits above existing hardware and software to create an abstraction layer that allows administrators to easily view the network, which is interoperable with devices from Cisco, Juniper Networks and HPE, to name a few. Apstra recently launched AOS 2.0 that delivers a turnkey intent-based OS and applications that automatically prevents and repairs network outages for improved infrastructure uptime.


CEO: Kumar Ramachandran

Another SD-WAN startup leading the market is CloudGenix, which offers its Instant-On Networks (ION) family of products that deliver an application-defined fabric that eliminates the need for hardware routers. In contrast to traditional hybrid-WAN alternatives, ION provides the cloud without compromising remote offices or the need to rip and replace infrastructure. San Jose, Calif.-based CloudGenix recently launched its ION 2000 series hardware appliance designed to meet the needs of small and remote offices with up to 150-Mbps of connectivity. The startup launched its first-ever partner program last year seeking partners wanting to catch the growing SD-WAN wave.

Forward Networks

CEO: David Erickson

The intent-based networking software startup Forward Networks allows customers to search, verify and predict network behavior by providing a software copy of their networks that customers can use to run tests before implementing changes into production. The startup's SaaS-based platform is aimed to prevent outages, streamline network management and enable engineers to test any changes before deployment. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup's Forward Enterprise ensures policy compliance by predicting impact from network changes and quickly isolates configuration errors and remediation steps.


CEO: Ratul Mahajan

The Redmond, Wash.-based startup launched out of stealth earlier this year aiming to bring cutting-edge software development techniques to networking, such as continuous integration and automatic debugging. CEO and co-founder Ratul Mahajan spent 11 years as Principal Researcher at Microsoft, helping build technologies for Microsoft Azure. Intentionet's Batfish solution is an open source network analysis tool that finds bugs and guarantees the correctness of network configuration. Batfish, which is provided as a managed service, enables network engineers to rapidly and safely evolve their network without fear of outages or security breaches. The startup received $3 million in funding this year from True Ventures.


CEO: John Lioacono

The network monitoring startup is led by an executive team hailing from the likes of Juniper Networks, Sun Microsystems and Adobe. The Jolata Platform provides real-time and precise network intelligence by aggregating, analyzing and visualizing millisecond-precision performance analytics for any flow anywhere on the network. The San Jose, Calif.-based startup's platform determines network problems and root causes all the way down to vendor equipment and location. Its software meters are placed at different points on the network that capture, time stamp, fingerprint and match packets on the network.

Mist Systems

CEO: Sujai Hajela

One of the smallest but fastest-growing vendors to make Gartner's 2017 Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN report is Mist Systems. The Cupertino, Calif.-based startup's Mist platform uses machine learning technology to simplify Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) operations to minimize wireless costs and provide indoor location services to mobile users. Mist's dual-radio access points have 16 integrated antenna elements for BLE and collect over 100 different user states, which are processed through a machine-learning engine. Founded in 2014, Mist saw over 200 percent growth year over year and has raised more than $42 million in funding.


CEO: Abe Ankumah

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Nyansa launched out of stealth last year touting itself as owning the first vendor-agnostic network analytics SaaS solution focused on the user experience from access to application. Nyansa's Voyance analytics system provides cross-company correlation and benchmarking of network metrics and trends. It extracts, analyzes and correlates wired and wireless data for every user in real-time across the entire network-application stack. The startup recently launched a suite of user performance management technology inside Voyance that includes an open application programming interface, a remediation engine and a flexible tagging framework to track the network experience for clients and critical devices.

128 Technology

CEO: Andy Ory

The Burlington, Mass-based startup's 128T Networking Platform is a software-based distributed routing and network services solution sold as a monthly subscription. It uses secure routing to simplify network architectures, provides end-to-end control and visibility without disrupting existing network infrastructure, and enables customers to build networks that are session-based, software-defined and services-centric. In September, 128 Technology launched its inaugural Partner Program along with a global channel recruitment effort. The startup has raised a total of $57 million in funding since launching in 2014.

Veriflow Systems

CEO: James Brear

One of the first vendors to start shipping intent-based networking software, Veriflow Systems says its technology can proactively predict what's going to happen on a network before it happens by using mathematical verification that also reduces downtime regarding configuration changes for campus, data center, and WAN. Veriflow recently enhanced its Continuous Network Verification platform to include CloudPredict, available for AWS, which enables organizations to verify hybrid networks spanning public clouds and on-premises infrastructure. The San Jose, Calif.-based vendor launched out of stealth in 2016 with $3 million in funding from investors including the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation.

Versa Networks

CEO: Kelly Ahuja

Versa Networks is one of the leading software-defined WAN vendors in the world led by Kelly Ahuja, a former longtime top Cisco executive. The startup recently rolled out unified communications services for its SD-WAN Versa Cloud IP solution enabling real-time assessment of voice and video sessions based on the quality and behavior of SD-WAN circuits through Mean Opinion Score-based traffic engineering and reporting for unified communications services. With Cisco buying Viptela and VMware set to buy VeloCloud, Versa is one of the few remaining independent SD-WAN startups.