While there are sure to be a lot of new networking and IT companies that emerge in 2012, these nine stood out for their potential to deliver game-changing innovations in a wide array of fields, including cloud computing, enterprise search, and mobile application development. (These are in addition to seven hot cloud companies and seven storage companies to watch that we highlighted last year.)
Founded: 2010 CEO: Sacha Labourey, former CTO of JBoss Headquarters: Woburn, Mass. Funding: $14.5 million in two rounds of funding, the most recent in July, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners
IN PICTURES: 2012 tech startups to watch product sampler
CloudBees CEO and founder Sacha Labourey has a dark secret: He used to think cloud computing wasn't all that interesting.
That's because, in addition to being one of the most overused buzzwords in the history of tech, cloud computing used to be consigned to the sphere of hardware. But once he saw that cloud computing could also be applied to middleware, he started to get excited.
"It took me a bit of time to realize what the power of the cloud could be," says Labourey, who used to work as a co-general manager for Red Hat's middleware division. "The hardware layer was a necessary evil, but the real value of the cloud came from what you could get on top and what you could get from next-generation middleware."
And so Labourey, now a full convert to the power of the cloud, founded CloudBees in 2010 to provide a platform as a service for cloud application developers that would cover them for the entire life cycle of their application, from building code to testing code to testing out different user interfaces. Or put another way, CloudBees takes away a lot of the extra work that cloud app developers typically do when designing applications.
"A developer would typically need a bunch of tools, such as servers they'd need to install their code, tools to build the code and to do UI testing to ensure the app will run on PCs, Macs, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and so forth," says Labourey. "What we offer is a one-stop shop where you can get all those services integrated so you can store your code, test your code and do Web UI testing."
The overall goal of the company, he says, is to reduce friction between app developers and IT departments by giving IT a single platform to test out and maintain apps running on their networks. Basically, Labourey wants applications to be as little of a hassle to IT departments as possible.
"If we could have a big machine that could run all the workloads in the world, we'd be fine with that, but such a machine doesn't exist," he says. "Our job is to make it look like it's run on one big machine even if there isn't one."