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10 network virtualization, SDN and data center companies to watch

Brandon Butler | Feb. 28, 2013
After years of venture capital and start-up focus on consumer-focused tech companies, enterprise networks and the data center are back in vogue.

Pica8's software, which includes the Open vSwitch (OVS) agent from Nicira, also works with open source controllers from Big Switch Networks, although a variety of other OpenFlow-based controllers, such as Ryu, can be used as well. The idea, Garrison says, is that as SDN adoption continues, "no one controller will be best for every application... no one company will own this market."


Headquarters: Cambridge, Mass.

Founded: 2010

Focus: Application-driven network control

Product availability: Became generally available in Q4 of 2012

Funding: $48.5M from North Bridge Venture Partners, Matrix Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners

Management: David Husak, founder and CEO, formerly with 3Com and co-founder of Reva Systems; Ephraim Dobbins, co-Founder and vice president of engineering, formerly with Acme Packet.

Fun fact: The ecommerce portion of the company's website includes items such as a sold out bobblehead of company Husak, as well as a $30 million Plexxi jet.

More information: Plexxi 

Plexxi executives say much of the talk about SDNs and virtual networks these days is off the mark.

Instead of just re-architecting the network to make it more elastic, scalable and controlled through software, they say the network should be orchestrated from the top down, by applications telling the network what resources they need and the network automatically provisioning itself. That's what Plexxi says its switches and software combination enable customers to do. "We view ourselves as building a solution based on an SDN foundation," says Mat Matthews, a co-founder and vice president of product marketing.

The software layer collects information about applications, analyzes what network resources it's using and creates algorithms to predict what will be needed. It takes that information and relays it to the underlying integrated network hardware devices made by Plexxi - mostly switches - that configure the network to the specifications of the applications.

Plexxi has already seen some success in the financial sector, where organizations are looking for ultra low-latency private cloud infrastructures. The company's system is ideal for networks that include a high number of server connectivity points, and for content delivery and big data applications, according to Plexxi. One early customer has created a premium service cloud computing offering that guarantees no two servers are ever more than one hop away from one another, for example.

The company is made of proud Bostonians. On its website, CEO Husak shows his East Coast pride, noting: "The last time there was a shift of this magnitude in enterprise networking, Boston-based companies led the way. And, it's going to happen that way again."


Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.

Founded: 2011

Focus: Network virtualization-plus

Funding: $10.7 million in Series A funding from US Venture Partners and Hummer Winblad Partners


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