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8 Networking Vendors Catching Fire In 2016

  • Technology is growing in leaps and bounds. We outlined the top trends across the IT spectrum, but now we'll drill into the networking industry specifically. What's likely to make news and what companies should you keep tabs on in the networking space this year?

    First, expect to hear a lot more about software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN). Gartner predicts, "By year-end 2018, 10% of enterprises will have replaced their WAN routing with SD-WAN-based path forwarding, up from less than 1% today." SD-WAN offers benefits in both price and performance, particularly in cloud environments that are spurring increasing interest in the technology.

    Second, don't expect the adoption of software-defined networking (SDN) to slow down anytime soon. IDC has IDC has predicted that between 2014 and 2018 the SDN market will grow from $960 million to more than $8 billion -- that's an annual growth rate of 89.4%.

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    Finally, going hand-in-hand with SDN is network function virtualization (NFV) technology, which is also growing adoption at a very rapid pace. IHS forecasts that the NFV market will climb from $2.3 billion last year to $11.6 billion by 2019.

    While industry heavyweights like Cisco, VMware, HP and Dell are all getting involved with these three key trends, much of the pioneering work on this new technology is being spearheaded by younger, smaller companies. This slideshow features nine of companies -- listed in alphabetical order -- that are at the forefront of the new developments in enterprise networking technology.

    (Image: alexsl/iStockphoto with modification)

  • Anuta Networks

    Anuta's flagship product is its NCX network service orchestration software for medium to large enterprises and service providers. Its technology enables software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), and it is compatible with OpenStack. According to its website, NCX "enables network administrators to scale rapidly and efficiently without adding headcount."

    In 2015, Anuta won the Best of VMworld prize in the networking and virtualization category, and it's also been a finalist or a winner in several other recent awards competitions. The company was founded in 2010 and counts Cisco, F5 and VMware among its partners.

  • Big Switch Networks

    In January 2016, Big Switch Networks announced that it had raised an additional $48.5 million in venture capital, bringing its total to $94 million. One of the pioneers of software-defined networking, Big Switch offers two key SDN products: Its Big Monitoring Fabric allows companies of all sizes to monitor their existing networks, and it describes its second product -- Big Cloud Fabric -- as "the industry's most advanced bare metal SDN switching fabric intended for new data center pods such as private cloud, big data and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)."

    Like several other vendors on this list, Big Switch has a significant commitment to open source. It's a member of the Open Networking Foundation and is involved in the OpenStack community and the Open Compute Project. It also has three noteworthy open source projects of its own -- Floodlight, Indigo and OFTest -- all of which are related to OpenFlow.

  • Brocade

    The most well-known company on our list, Brocade is a large, publicly traded company that offers a wide variety of networking products, including switches, routers, storage networking infrastructure and network management software. More recently, it has been jumping on the software-defined networking (SDN) trend and embracing open source approaches to the technology.

    Last fall, the company released its second generation SDN controller, which was based on the OpenDaylight open source SDN platform. In addition it unveiled two related software tools -- Topology Manager and Flow Manager. In the coming year, expect the company to continue supporting open source SDN efforts.

  • CloudGenix

    CloudGenix offers software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology, which it claims "revolutionizes" networking. It says that its flagship product, called ION, can help companies decrease WAN costs in half while increasing WAN throughput by up to 9% (65 % on average). It also promises to improve cloud application performance and help establish a dynamic security perimeter.

    Last year, the company announced that it has raised $25 million in investment funding. It was a finalist for the Best of Interop award, and it made Gartner's list of "Cool Vendors" in the enterprise networking space.

  • Cumulus Networks

    Founded by veterans from Cisco and VMware, Cumulus considers itself a leader in open networking. It offers three products: Cumulus VX, open source software that allows administrators to test Cumulus technology; Cumulus Linux, an open source networking operating system that runs on industry standard hardware; and Cumulus Rack Management Platform (RMP), a network operating system for out-of-band management switches. It claims that companies using its products often reduce their networking-related capital expenditures by 50% and their operational expenditures by even more.

    The company received numerous accolades in 2015, including being named one of NetworkWorld's 20 Best Products of 2015, CRN's 10 Coolest Networking Startups of 2015 and Business Insider's 50 enterprise startups to bet your career on.

  • Facebook

    The social networking giant may not be the first company that comes to mind when you think about enterprise networking, but in recent years the company has unveiled several noteworthy open hardware products. First, it created a top-of-rack network switch known as Wedge, then an operating system for the switch called FBOSS. Last February it took the wraps off the first open modular switch platform, which it named 6-pack.

    In November of last year, Facebook announced that it is working on a new 100 Gbps top-of-rack Ethernet switch. This year, look for the company to continue pushing the boundaries as it looks for ways to meet its own data center networking needs.

  • VeloCloud

    Like CloudGenix, VeloCloud is a player in the SD-WAN space. This month it announced that it had raised $27 million in additional venture capital, bringing its total to $49 million. And last year it won Best Startup of Interop 2105, as well as awards from Computer Technology Review, the Fierce Innovation Awards, TMC, Business Intelligence Group, Network Products Guide, CIOReview, Red Herring and others. It was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Mountain View, California.

    Its products include VeloCloud Gateways, VeloCloud Orchestrator software and the VeloCloud Edge branch platform. It boasts that its SD-WAN solution can help organizations "slash bandwidth costs and deploy 10x faster."

  • Viptela

    SD-WAN vendor Viptela boasts that it can help enterprises achieve 50% lower costs while increasing bandwidth tenfold and improving cloud computing performance fivefold. Founded in 2012, Viptela says it has thousands of customers, including more than 15 Fortune 500 companies. Last year it was named a Gartner Cool Vendor, and Forbes put it on its list of Next Billion Dollar Startups.

    Viptela offers what it calls a secure extensible network (SEN) solution. That solution consists of two key components: the vSmart Cloud-based SDN-WAN Controller and the vManage Network Management System (NMS).