10 Coolest Virtualization Startups Of 2013

Solving Tough Tech Challenges

Though cloud is where most of the buzz is happening these days, many virtualization startups are still out there solving difficult technology challenges in data centers, especially ones that have to do with storage and management. Virtual desktops have been long on promise and short on delivery, but that's starting to change as startups come in with technology that tackles longstanding performance issues.

Software-defined networking is heating up, as startups jockey for positioning that hasn't yet been staked out by the big players. Startups are also finding opportunity when it comes to using virtualization to improve security and database scalability. Following are 10 of the coolest virtualization startups we've seen this year.


CEO: Bob Petrocelli

GreenBytes uses deduplication so that Flash storage can deliver the speed and throughput that virtual desktop environments demand. It scored $7 million in Series C funding in early April from Generation Investment Management LLP and Battery Ventures.

GreenBytes uses deduplication technology, which prevents data from getting backed up multiple times, to reduce the amount of Flash needed in VDI environments. GreenBytes sells an appliance, called IO-Offload, to telcos and MSPs, as well as vIO, a virtual storage appliance.


CEO: Dan Mihai Dumitriu

Network virtualization startup Midokura made a big splash in April by landing a $17.3 million Series A funding round led by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. Midokura, which was formed in Japan, uses the software overlay approach to provision virtual switches, routers, firewalls and load balancers and connect them to virtual machines.

The buzzy startup hired VMware veteran Jim Lenox as vice president of worldwide sales in October. He'll be tasked with boosting sales of MidoNet, the SDN startup's flagship network virtualization platform.


CEO: Jedidiah Yueh

One area of the virtualization market that hasn't received much attention is databases. But Delphix, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based database virtualization startup led by former Avamar and Sun Microsystems executives, is changing that.

Delphix CEO Jed Yueh founded Avamar in 1999 and sold it to EMC in 2006 for $165 million. Delphix, which landed $25 million in Series C funding last June led by Jafco Ventures, has managed to get 50 companies in the Fortune 500 using its software, and it's also been hiring away engineers from VMware and Oracle, the San Francisco Business Times reported in May.


CEO: Lynn LeBlanc

HotLink's story has to do with bridging the vast array of vendors whose gear is used in today's data centers, as well as managing both private and public clouds. One important thing HotLink does is connect VMware vCenter and Microsoft System Center with Amazon EC2.

In August, HotLink launched HotLink DR Express, a plug-in for VMware vCenter that uses Amazon Web Services for disaster recovery of vSphere virtual machines. The plug-in automatically restores virtual machines and continues operations in AWS whenever outages happen. And the best part? The plug-in is priced the same as basic backup software.


CEO: Gaurav Banga

Led by the founders of the Xen open-source project, Bromium came out of stealth mode in June with a product that uses virtualization to solve longstanding security challenges for companies with mobile workers.

Bromium uses Intel hardware-assisted virtualization to isolate system tasks before they're executed to make sure nothing bad is getting through. It does this using a piece of software called a "microvisor," which examines all requests before allowing them to execute.

Bromium co-founder Simon Crosby, former data center and virtualization CTO at Citrix, gave the following summation of Bromium in an interview with CRN in June: "The system is naturally trustworthy and naturally cleans itself of any malware. This happens through the application of virtualization as an isolation boundary."


CEO: Poojan Kumar

Former VMware and Oracle technology veterans got together to form PernixData, a startup that allows the flash storage and SSDs across multiple servers to act as a high-performance storage cluster for virtual environments.

"We're solving a very tangible problem in both enterprises and SMBs: As their environments go virtual, their back-end infrastructure is not keeping up," Poojan Kumar, PernixData CEO, told CRN in August.

PernixData in May closed a $20 million Series B funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and existing investor Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Pluribus Networks

CEO: Robert Drost

Network virtualization startup Pluribus Networks is taking on Cisco and VMware with a top-of-rack server and switch and software that aim to make data centers faster and more efficient. The startup has also been working with Red Hat on OpenStack-based network virtualization.

Pluribus Networks has been on a hiring binge lately: In November, it hired former Cisco executive Kumar Srikantan as president and CEO, and earlier this month it brought in former Riverbed executive Jim Schneibel as vice president of sales. The startup has raised $44 million in funding to date from Menlo Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Mohr Davidow Ventures.


CEO: Ziv Kedem

Boston-based Startup Zerto focuses on disaster recovery for virtualized data centers with its Zerto Virtual Replication (ZVR) software, and it also does hypervisor-based replication and backup. It was founded by Ziv and Oded Kedem, two brothers who founded storage vendor Kashya and sold it to EMC in 2006 for $150 million.

Ziv Kedem told Forbes in November that Zerto is growing fast and expects to hit $100 million in revenue by 2016 or 2017, and it's also setting its sights on an IPO.

Zerto landed a $13 million Series C funding round in April led by Battery Ventures, Greylock IL and U.S. Venture Partners.


CEO: Shimon Hason

Startup Intigua is pitching its virtual automation and management technology as an important part of the "software-defined data center," a term invented by VMware that describes storage and networking being virtualized for greater data center speed and efficiency.

After landing an $8.6 million round of Series A financing from Bessemer Venture Partners, Cedar Fund and other individual investors in early 2013, Intigua has been working with IBM, HP, Microsoft, VMware and Splunk to get its management technology working across a wider range of data center infrastructure.

Proximal Data

CEO: Rory Bolt

Startup Proximal Data's flagship AutoCache product tackles I/O bottlenecks in virtual environments by putting technology inside the hypervisor, thereby reducing the amount of flash storage customers need to buy.

Founded in 2011, San Diego-based Proximal Data was founded by former EMC executives and landed $2 million in Series B funding in April from Divergent Ventures and existing investor Avalon Ventures. The startup has some major channel partnerships with companies like Harwood International and TriAxis Storage Solutions.