New startups have burst onto the scene, promising to shake up networking and storage.
The once-staid worlds of networking and storage have become hotbeds for innovation as software takes a bigger role in enterprise infrastructure. With a number of startups leading the charge, software-defined networking continues to shake up an industry that had been tied to the speeds and feeds of the latest hardware. Meanwhile, software-defined storage startups are breaking new ground with profound implications for the data center.
This summer unleashed even more innovation as new startups emerged out of stealth. In June, four networking startups launched products with bold claims of revolutionizing enterprise networking. The launches came with lots of talk about the need to fix things. Some entrepreneurs argue that what the industry has done so far with SDN and open networking has fallen short, and tout their technology as simplifying the job of designing and managing networks.
Similarly, one of the new storage startups, NooBaa, argues that the industry has failed to deliver true software-defined storage, a shortcoming it addresses.
In networking, the recent spate of startups is part of a continuing evolution of the industry as startups are created to tackle new requirements in the rest of the infrastructure, Dan Conde, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, told me.
"Networking serves the needs to tie the rest of the infrastructure together, so as new needs arise -- such as more bandwidth that travels east-west, more intruders coming through networks, rapidly created/destroyed workloads in containers, or programmability -- the networks need to change to meet their needs. Changes in one area affects another," he said.
Some startups, like 128 Technology – which describes its mission as fixing the Internet -- seem to be a reaction to the complexity that develops when traditional solutions are built on top of each other, he added.
Continue on to check out the tech startups making a splash this summer.
Apstra introduced its distributed operating system for multi-vendor data center networks in June. The Apstra Operating System is designed to run as either a turnkey application or as code on top of existing network infrastructure. The platform uses intent statements from the customer to automate design and deployment of network configurations, and provides telemetry and analytics.
Apstra is led by CEO Mansour Karam, a former Arista executive who co-founded the company with CTO Sasha Ratkovic, formerly of Juniper Networks, and chief scientist David Cheriton, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University. Cheriton, with holds numerous patents in networking and distributed systems, has an impressive track record as an early investor in Google, VMware, and Arista (which he co-founded).
In a blog post introducing the company, Karam said Apstra aims to overcome the complex nature of networking, which he said SDN has failed to fix. He said the keys to Apstra's platform are treating the network as a system instead of box-by-box, and an intent-driven and vendor-agnostic approach. AOS is scheduled to be generally available this summer.
Led by a team of networking veterans, Barefoot Networks emerged out of stealth last month touting a super-fast switch chip that makes networks programmable down to the data-plane level. Barefoot's Tofino chip targets network equipment makers and operators of hyperscale data centers who are able to program it using the open source P4 language. The executive team includes Nick McKeown, a Stanford University professor who co-founded Nicira, which VMware bought in 2012 for $1.2 billion.
On the enterprise wireless networking front, Mist recently launched WLAN technology that combines cloud-managed WiFi, analytics, SDN, and unique beacon-less location-based services. WLAN architect and Network Computing Contributor Lee Badman called Mist's product the most "next-gen WLAN platform" he's ever seen. The startup was founded by former executives of Cisco, Airespace and Motorola.
Storage startup NooBaa hasn't made a big public splash yet, but already is generating some buzz. According to a blog on the company's sparse website, software-defined storage solutions on the market have fallen short. NooBaa's goal is to provide the "ultimate instantiation of SDS" with agile, Amazon S3-like storage for on-premises applications with complete hardware independence.
The startup impressed Enrico Signoretti, an independent consultant and blogger. In a blog post, he described NooBaa as taking a different approach to object storage. "This is a true SDS solution with storage nodes and intelligence separated from each other. The “brain” is in a VM (or a set of VMs) and it manages the cluster, while the storage nodes (which can be virtual, physical or in the cloud) can be installed everywhere and can take advantage of the storage resources found in the host."
Founded in 2013 by a team of experienced storage and networking executives, the company has offices in Rehovot, Israel, and Silicon Valley. According to storage blogger and advisor Philippe Nicolas, NooBaa's software is in beta and should be generally available early next year.
There are a lot of network performance monitoring systems on the market, but Nyansa claims its Voyance analytics platform provides unprecedented visibility. Founded in 2013 by tech pros hailing from MIT, Meraki, Aruba Networks, and Google, the startup launched out of stealth in April. In a Network Computing blog post, WLAN architect Lee Badman said he was impressed by Nyansa's software.
"To me, Voyance is about cloud-managed, multi-site aggregation of hundreds of data points that tell a rather large story from the client-device perspective. The WLAN sites that participate are other Voyance customers in an equation that leads to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts," he wrote.
When it launched in June, 128 Technology made headlines with its catchy marketing theme of fixing the Internet. The Burlington, Mass.-based startup's session-oriented Secure Vector Routing software platform aims to simply networking and make it more secure. 128's founders claim that their approach is simpler than SDN and NFV and will eliminate the need for extra boxes like load balancers and firewalls. ESG analyst Dan Conde said the startup's technology allows enterprises to create a hybrid WAN without an IPsec overlay and reduce reliance on MPLS.
A bunch of former data center network engineers at Apple founded SnapRoute in 2015. The startup, which launched out of stealth in June, touts its FlexSwitch open-source software as providing a way for networks to be really open. On the company's website, founder and CEO Jason Forrester wrote that despite the explosion of SDN software and white-box switches, Gartner says few companies are really changing the way they go about networking. The missing ingredient, he said, is a truly open software standard for basic switches and routers.
SnapRoute has already scored a big win with Facebook's Open Compute Project, and the startup has contributed its software to OCP. "This contribution continues the move by the OCP networking project up the stack to higher layer networking software, and FlexSwitch is the first full L2/L3 open source networking stack officially available on top of Facebook Wedge (and Wedge 100, once it's generally available)," Omar Baldanado, who manages Facebook's network team, wrote in a blog post.
Based in London, StorageOS unveiled its container-based storage software at DockerCon in June. The storage startup claims its software makes it easier for developers to create, test and deploy containerized applications with enterprise-class production storage. StorageOS is designed to automate the management of persistent containerized storage.
In a blog post, storage expert and blogger Chris Evans wrote that StorageOS is one of a handful of companies coming to market to address the problem of persistent storage with container technology.
StorageOS was founded in 2013 by four storage professionals working in the financial services industry. The company is offering a free trial of its beta software.
Veriflow launched in April with what it says is a new approach to network security by applying mathematical verification to the network. The technique is designed to ensure policies are implemented as intended with the goal of preventing breaches and outages. The Oakland, Calif.-based company came out of stealth in April with $2.9 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.
This week, Veriflow announced that it raised $8.2 million in Series A funding from Menlo Ventures and NEA, which it will use to hire sales people, engineers, and boost its marketing.