The 10 Coolest Virtualization Startups Of 2015 (So Far)

Virtualization Value

Few startups today want to be known as being focused on virtualization, because cloud computing is where the action is. Yet virtualization is the key enabling technology for cloud, and many startups are working on virtualizing storage, servers, networking, management and even user-profile information.

Here CRN presents our picks for the coolest virtualization startups of 2015 so far. There's some well-known names on this list, as well as some new ones. All of them are pushing the limits of what virtualization technology can achieve in terms of making businesses run more efficiently.

For more on the "coolest" of 2015, check out "CRN's Tech Midyear In Review."

Ravello Systems

CEO: Rami Tamir

Ravello Systems, a startup founded by the creators of the KVM hypervisor, develops technology for moving workloads from VMware private clouds to the Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform public clouds.

Ravello does this using "nested virtualization," which lets workloads move between clouds without requiring apps to be recoded. Ravello's technology also moves the networking and storage connected to the workloads using software-defined networking.

Ravello has enterprise customers moving production workloads using its technology, Navin Thadani, senior vice president of products, told CRN in March. "We think of this as a next-generation virtual infrastructure that sits on top of public clouds," he said at the time.

Primary Data

CEO: Lance Smith

Storage startup Primary Data, whose management team includes former executives from Fusion-io, came out of stealth mode last November touting the benefits of its data virtualization technology, which it claims is the key to making storage in the data center more efficient.

Primary Data says virtualizing data makes it more easily accessible by applications, servers and storage, enabling companies to get the most out of their enterprise systems. Rounding out the product is policy-based automation, which ensures the data is made available across heterogeneous infrastructure.

Primary Data, Los Altos, Calif., also has Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on staff as chief scientist. And who doesn't love Woz?


CEO: Ian Pratt

Security startup Bromium uses virtualization to isolate Windows functions into what it calls a "microvisor," in which malware can execute but can't move beyond to the rest of an enterprise network. This mitigates damage in the event that a user unwittingly opens a file with malware.

The startup in June launched Bromium Enterprise Controller, a platform that handles "one-click deployment, policy orchestration, monitoring and threat management" for enterprise endpoints, according to a company press release. It's seen as a play for large organizations that need to get a handle on the bring-your-own-device trend.

Bromium was founded in 2010 by virtualization executives Gaurav Banga, Simon Crosby and Ian Pratt, and it claims to have a "rapidly growing set of Fortune 500 companies and government agencies" on board as customers.


CEO: Jeff Hausman

CloudPhysics, a startup founded by former VMware engineers, sells a SaaS product that analyzes anonymized operational data from customers' environments and uses it to detect problems with their virtual server, storage and networking configurations before they arise. The goal is to reduce the human error that often leads to problems in the data center.

CloudPhysics' predictive analytics solves a tough problem for operations teams that are tasked with keeping multitier applications running in virtualized environments. As more organizations move to virtualization, they may find that tools like these are crucial to keeping their data centers running like well-oiled machines.


CEO: Ben Golub

Docker is the highest profile startup building a business around Linux containers, and it's now leading an industry effort -- called the Open Container Project -- to develop a standard for the technology, which allows apps to be broken down into chunks and run on any kind of infrastructure.

Amazon Web Services, Cisco Systems, CoreOS, EMC, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat and VMware are among the vendors supporting the Open Container Project, which is housed under the Linux Foundation.

Last month, Docker launched new software called Docker Trusted Registry, which is used for storing and sharing Docker images and aimed at large enterprises with sophisticated security and compliance needs.


CEO: Ziv Kedem

Zerto sells business continuity and disaster recovery software for virtual and cloud environments, and its flagship Zerto Virtual Replication product competes with VMware's Site Recovery Manager and others. The Boston-based startup said it has more than 500 channel partners and 170 cloud service providers worldwide.

With its latest software update in May, Zerto added support for replicating and migrating data between VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors, and from private clouds to public clouds such as Amazon Web Services. The update also lets Zerto partners deliver their own disaster recovery services.

Sea Street Technologies

CEO: Harley Stowell

Sea Street Technologies, a stealthy Boston-based startup, sells a cloud orchestration and automation product called Genesys, describing it on its website as an "operating platform that dynamically drives infrastructure to meet the needs of the applications, under the control of policy, through the full application life cycle, independent of implementation and without human intervention."

Aimed at service providers and large enterprises, Sea Street Technologies' Genesys is pitched as a way to minimize cloud downtime and ensure that workloads can be ported across private and public clouds, all managed by policies.

Harley Stowell, CEO and co-founder of Sea Street Technologies, was CEO and co-founder of LineSider Technologies, a network virtualization vendor that Cisco Systems acquired in 2010.


CEO: Terry Cunningham

Hyper-converged infrastructure startup Springpath, founded by former VMware engineers, sells software that turns industry-standard x86-based servers into hyper-converged infrastructure appliances.

The Springpath Data Platform software, sold as a subscription starting at $4,000 per server annually, lets enterprises leverage industry-standard servers to manage and store data with a full set of enterprise-class features.

Springpath came out of stealth mode in February and then in May hired Terry Cunningham, a longtime industry and channel veteran, as its CEO.


CEO: Ariel Maislos

Hyper-converged infrastructure startup Stratoscale came out of stealth mode last November with a $32 million funding round led by Intel Capital, with Cisco and SanDisk joining in as strategic investors.

Stratoscale's technology is software-only and turns industry-standard x86 servers into hyper-converged appliances. The startup is targeting service providers and large enterprises and touts distributed management and fast deployment as key selling points. Stratoscale works with OpenStack and also supports Docker containers.

Stratoscale is entering a field where startups like Nutanix and SimpliVity are well-established, and where relatively newcomer VMware is looking to build buzz around its EVO:RAIL hyper-converged reference architecture.


CEO: Dheeraj Pandey

Nutanix, widely regarded as the leader in the hyper-converged market, started out developing storage virtualization technology but recently branched out into server virtualization. Its Acropolis hypervisor -- which is based on the open source KVM hypervisor -- and its Prism management software aim to give VMware customers alternatives to VMware vSphere and vRealize in the data center.

While it remains to be seen whether Nutanix's server virtualization foray will pay off, the scrappy startup has gained quite a following in the channel with a partner-focused sales model, and looks poised for an IPO at some point in the not-too-distant future.