The 10 Hottest Enterprise Networking Startups Of 2018 (So Far)

The hottest networking startups in 2018 so far are focused on cloud, analytics, visibility and intuitive, intent-based networking.

Red Hot In Networking

Cloud, analytics, visibility and intuitive, intent-based networking efforts helped startups make a significant impact on the networking market in the first half of the year.

Sponsored post

For many of these vendors, the aim is simply to make networking easier, to bring more agility to customers' networks while helping those customers make sense of the data that flows through their networks at ever-increasing speed.

While some of the companies on this list are banking on partnerships with industry heavyweights like Cisco Systems, others see an opportunity to compete head-to-head with Cisco in hot new markets like SD-WAN. What they have in common is a desire to disrupt a market going through a period of sweeping and fast-paced change.

Here are the 10 hottest networking startups of 2018 so far.

(For more on the biggest news of 2018, check out "CRN's Tech Midyear In Review.")

128 Technology

CEO: Andy Ory

With its Session Smart router and 128 Technology Networking Platform, 128 Technology is changing the way networks operate and challenging the networking status quo. The Session Smart SD-WAN offering aims to break down the limitations of traditional infrastructure. The company says it isn't satisfied to repackage hardware-centric networking as ’software-defined." Instead, the Session Smart offering is intended to close the gap between what a network does and what customers need. Also earlier this year, 128 Technologies joined the AWS Partner Network, which will help the company ease cloud interconnect at a lower cost.


CEO: Mansour Karam

With a significant new customer, and the hiring of a networking security veteran as vice president of engineering, Apstra is positioning itself for growth in the burgeoning market for intent-based networking. Menlo Park, Calif.-based Apstra says its Apstra Operating System (AOS) platform does something that no other intent-based networking system can do: It automates data center operations across the network regardless of customers' vendor mix. That approach allows Apstra to cut outage and failure durations in half, the company says. 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, among others. And Apstra's AOS 2.0 operating system delivers a turnkey intent-based OS that automatically prevents and repairs network outages.

Aviatrix Systems

CEO: Steven Mih

The inability to easily network in the cloud has been holding companies back, says Palo Alto, Calif., startup Aviatrix Systems. AWS predicts a huge increase in the number of virtual private clouds over the next three years, and Aviatrix argues that most networking vendors have a blind spot in networking between public clouds. This spring, Aviatrix introduced a software-defined cloud networking as-a-service platform for AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud users. The platform is a good fit for an MSP sales strategy, the company says, and is intended to be simple to deploy and manage, especially for customers with little network experience who want to build hybrid and multi-cloud networks.

Avi Networks

CEO: Amit Pandey

Avi Networks landed a new $60 million round of funding this year, and the cash infusion has the startup primed to dominate the fast-developing application services market. The Series D funding also marks a turning point in the Santa Clara, Calif., company's already close relationship with networking giant Cisco. Cisco joined DAG Ventures, Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures as an investor for the latest round. The new round brings the total investment in Avi to $115 million and takes the company and its relationship with Cisco to new heights.

Barefoot Networks

CEO: Craig Barratt

In a new collaboration with Cisco, Barefoot Networks demonstrated real-time network visibility and analytics on a new Cisco networking platform, the Nexus 3400, that’s been built using Barefoot's Tofino product. The platform supports Barefoot’s Smart Programmable Real-time In-band Network Telemetry (SPRINT) feature, giving it the ability to export telemetry data to the Deep Insight network performance monitoring solution. From there, users are given real-time visibility into every packet in the network, allowing them to detect any anomalies including microbursts, path and latency variations, congestion and packet drops.


CEO: Kumar Ramachandran

Software-defined WAN specialist CloudGenix isn't shy about its ambitions, or about its ability to take on industry stalwarts like Cisco and VMware. The company is witnessing massive growth in the enterprise and aims to take on Cisco, VMware and others in the fast-growing SD-WAN market, and so far things are working out just fine, said founder and CEO Kumar Ramachandran. "We saw a 300 percent growth rate in 2017," he told CRN earlier this year. "We grew the business massively. The vast majority of growth came in the Fortune 500."

Gemini Data

Tony Ayaz

In an effort to take its sales and channel efforts to new heights, San Francisco-based data analytics firm Gemini Data hired former AppDynamics and Splunk sales guru Jon Jung. Jung was made senior vice president of sales and operations by Gemini and charged with building out the data management software firm's direct and channel sales strategies. Jung said his focus will be on Gemini's people and products, as well as ensuring that the company's sales team and its channel are working together closely. That's important, he said, because software offers channel and direct sales teams huge opportunities when both are focused on long-term strategy.


CEO: Anand Srinivas

Network performance management firm Nyansa introduced two new applications as the first half came to a close. The solutions, Voyance WAN and Voyance Client Agent, are designed to bring visibility to what the company calls "blind spots" on network endpoints. The solutions integrate WAN and client data and then analyzes and correlates them with transactions in order to bring insight to users.


CEO: James Brear

Network verification and intelligence vendor Veriflow is preparing a channel charge with a new partner program, and a seasoned channel leader intent on driving growth with a small, handpicked cadre of partners, the company said this year. The company hired Michael Kay as vice president of business development, making him the top channel executive, and has assigned him the task of recruiting and enabling partners in the company's new Veriflow Select program. As the name implies, Veriflow Select will be selective, and will likely bring on 100 partners or fewer. The select few, however, will have the opportunity to design business plans and incentive structures that work most favorably for them, Kay said.

Versa Networks

CEO: Kelly Ahuja

Versa Networks this year rolled out unified communications services for its SD-WAN solution, an advancement that the company says allows for the real-time assessment of voice and video sessions based on the quality and behavior of actual SD-WAN circuits through Mean Opinion Score-based traffic engineering and reporting for unified communications services. The additions allow Versa Secure SD-WAN to be bundled with unified communications solutions with the embedded ability to set policies, gather performance data and analyze the quality of voice and video for a more reliable, high-performing SD-WAN. Partners can capitalize on the enhancements by selling an improved unified communications experience.