After years of venture capital and startup focus on consumer-focused tech companies, enterprise networks and the data center are back in vogue.
But we're not talking sexy Vogue. We're talking virtualization, cloud computing and software-defined networking (SDN) -- the sorts of technologies IT managers need to run more efficient data centers and better support increasingly mobile workforces and customers.
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"It's an area that hasn't had any innovation in decades," says Jamie Goldstein of North Bridge Venture Partners about the networking industry. "Vendors are still selling the same Ethernet switches they were in the 1990s. Maybe the interfaces are faster, but it's all basically the same technology. Until recently." SDN is a fundamental change in networking, he says, which is causing excitement in the venture capital community.
Established vendors such as Cisco, Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent have all aired their SDN plans of late, but it's venture-backed companies such as VMware's $1.2 billion baby Nicira and Stanford University-borne Big Switch Networks that have grabbed more of the attention in this emerging field. And scads of newcomers are right behind them.
In our latest package on companies to watch -- vendors that collectively have raised some $250 million in funding -- we profile SDN upstarts as well as those in related markets such as virtualization and converged infrastructure.
Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.
Focus: Virtualization management
Product availability: HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware vCenter and HotLink Hybrid Express for VMware vCenter are both generally available.
Funding: $10M from Foundation Capital and Leapfrog Ventures
Management: HotLink CEO Lynn LeBlanc and Chief Science Officer Richard Offer co-founded FastScale Technology, a software provisioning platform that VMware acquired. LeBlanc has worked at a variety of eventually-acquired startups, including iReady, ILEX Systems and Atherton Technology
More information: HotLink