The 10 Hottest Networking Startups Of 2020 (So Far)

With cloud and automation top of mind in 2020 due to the rise of remote working, here are 10 networking startups you should know about that are making their mark on 2020 so far.


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2020 has been dishing out many surprises and challenges for the IT industry as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses around the globe to close their doors and send most—if not all—employees to work remotely from home. Enterprise networks, which largely consisted of traffic coming from headquarters, branch offices and some remote staff, are now seeing completely different traffic and usage patterns.

The silver lining? Demand for automation has been on the rise like never before. Businesses want easier networking, and removing some of the manual tasks is a big trend in enterprise networking right now as end customers demand more automation and flexible consumption models for their IT environments. Along with automation, the cloud continues to rise in popularity, especially as solution providers help their customers gear up for the new normal and future networking requirements. These requirements are helping networking upstarts make their mark on the industry right now.

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Here are 10 of the hottest enterprise networking startups in 2020 so far.

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128 Technology

Co-Founder, CEO: Andy Ory

Primary Networks II, which emerged on the scene in 2014, has since changed its name to 128 Technology. The networking company specializes in SD-WAN, edge and security offerings, giving the hardware-centric networking market a run for its money thanks to the company's software router and networking platform.

Burlington, Mass.-based 128 for a long time has chosed to work with the channel in an "entrepreneurial" fashion. The channel-friendly provider crowned a new channel chief when it brought on Mark Vella as vice president of business development and alliances last summer. 128 in May rolled out a series of updates for remote working use cases, including version 4 of its Session Smart Router, which was enhanced in three areas: SD-branch, remote work and 5G.


Co-Founder, CEO: Amir Khan

Multi-cloud networking newcomer Alkira jumped into the market this year. The company's two founders are CEO Amir Khan and his brother Atif Khan, Alkira's CTO. The brothers also co-founded SD-WAN provider Viptela, which was bought by Cisco in 2017 for $610 million.

The startup offers its Cloud Services Exchange (CSX), a unified, on-demand offering that lets cloud architects and network engineers build and deploy a multi-cloud network in minutes. Alkira CSX offers cloud networking in an as-a-service format with the flexibility to turn services on and off as the business requires, with no up-front Capex purchase necessary, the company said.

Alkira is primarily going to market though the channel under the leadership of Danielle Kramer, senior sales director.


CEO: Mansour Karam

Intent-based networking pioneer Apstra is a 100 percent channel-focused company that stands out by working to automate data center operations across the network in large, enterprise data centers built on the equipment of various vendors, including Cisco Systems, Dell EMC, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, and Arista, according to Menlo Park, Calif.-based Apstra.

In 2019, Apstra brought on a pair of industry veterans to drive engineering and global business development, including Extreme Networks co-founder Herb Schneider as its vice president of engineering and David Butler to handle the company’s global business development. In March, the six-year-old company launched its first formal channel program, the Apstra Partner Advantage Program, under the leadership of John Atchison, director of global partner marketing.

Cato Networks

Co-Founder, CEO: Shlomo Kramer

Cloud networking and security provider Cato Networks, which does 100 percent of its business through the channel, comes to the market with a cloud service that integrates edge SD-WAN, a global network backbone and network security services.

The five-year-old Tel Aviv, Israel-based company secured its largest round of financing, bringing its total funding to date to more than $200 million after growing its channel business by nearly 500 percent year over year from 2018 to 2019. Cato last year launched a global program for partners of all kinds, including master agents, subagents, VARs and MSPs.


CEO: Emile Vauge

Founded in 2016 and led by DevOps luminary Emile Vauge, Containous joined the market with a different approach to cloud-native networking. The San Francisco-based startup's multi-cloud network management platform gives businesses an easier approach to cloud application, microservices and API networking, according to the company.

Containous, whose tagline is "Makes Networking Boring," counts several Fortune 500 companies as customers, including Apple, Bose, eBay and Expedia. The channel-friendly company so far has raised $11 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.


Co-Founder, CEO: Andrew Gregoire

Brand-new For2Fi was launched in April when former MSP owner Andrew Gregoire, co-founder and CEO of For2Fi, noticed a hole in the market when it came to business LTE solutions.

With the help of master agent Telarus, Fall River, Mass.-based For2Fi is bringing wireless LTE offerings to the channel, an area that not many solution providers are in today because it has historically been too expensive and difficult to navigate, the company told CRN. The company's high-speed wireless services are a great fit for hard-to-reach businesses and those that need connectivity immediately, and unlike similar offerings on the market, its wireless offerings aren't just for backup use cases, according to Gregoire.

For2Fi is going to market exclusively through the channel, the company said.


CEO: Avi Freedman

Once known as CloudHelix, Kentik got its start six years ago offering its network intelligence platform to give enterprises more visibility and insight into performance and security over the internet, inside private data centers or in public cloud environments. The San Francisco-based company launched a formal channel program in 2017.

Kentik in May said that it had raised $23.5 million in a funding round led by Vistara Capital Partners, with existing investors August Capital, Third Point Ventures, DCVC and Tahoma Ventures also participating. The latest round of funding brings Kentik to a total of $61.7 million.

Lumina Networks

CEO: Andrew Coward

Lumina Networks, a startup that joined the market in 2017, was the result of Brocade being purchased and split up. Brocade's emerging SDN technology was acquired by Lumina Networks, which today provides OpenDaylight-based SDN controller offerings and services that can be used to deliver 5G. The startup is known for its open-source approach to networking that can simplify and automate heterogeneous networks.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company in October 2019 launched its Lumina Partner Program. Made up of five tiers, the program gives partners access to new revenue opportunities through creating innovative network solutions, the company said.


CEO: Dave Ward

Three-year-old PacketFabric offers a Network-as-a-Service platform for scalable, private connectivity. So far, the company has raised a total of $100 million, according to Crunchbase. PacketFabric in January said that its hosted cloud connectivity platform offers more capacity, reduced monthly recurring costs and additional on-ramps to public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud.

Culver City, Calif.-based PacketFabric got a new CEO in April when Dave Ward, Cisco's then-CTO of engineering and chief architect, took the helm.


CEO: Sanjit Biswas

IoT specialist Samsara got its start five years ago when Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket, who worked together at cloud networking vendor Meraki—which was later acquired by Cisco for $1.2 billion—came together to create channel-friendly Samsara.

San Francisco-based Samsara provides hardware and software offerings that deliver real-time visibility and analytics for fleet management and asset tracking. The startup has raised $930 million to date, according to Crunchbase. Samsara said more than 15,000 businesses—from small companies to Fortune 500 firms—are using its technology to automate once-manual processes and to improve their operations.