Why they're worth watching: To call this company a startup would be a stretch since it launched in 2001, but it takes a while to build breakthrough chips using carbon nanotube electronics technology. Despite having been around so long, Nantero is more behind the scenes than the others in this collection. But its technology could find its way into consumer and enterprise electronics that need faster and denser memory to handle explosive data needs better than flash or DRAM can. SSG-Now Founding Analyst Deni Connor says: "NRAM, because of its low-power and performance, could displace DRAM and SSDs and be used in arrays and servers of the near future." Nantero says its technology has been installed in production fabs around the world and is making its way into products. Big name outfits such as Lockheed Martin
and Schlumberger are testing the technology, as are a bunch of "confidential" semiconductor and infrastructure companies. The company added $31.5 million to its coffers in a fifth round of funding announced in June.
Headquarters: Palo Alto
Focus: Converged data management
Why they're worth watching: Rubrik is among the new vendors whose technology fits into what some are calling the hyperconverged infrastructure market, which SSG-Now's Connor describes as hardware or software-defined "appliances or systems that consist of compute and storage built on industry standard x86 servers and may be clustered for scalability." While this one-and-a-half year-old company really slings around the jargon, its message about safeguarding and delivering data across hybrid clouds has gotten through to investors, who have ponied up twice already in 2015 in the form of a Series A round in March worth $10 million and a $41 million round in May as it made its hybrid cloud appliance generally available. With a team involved in building everything from the Google File System to YouTube to Facebook and Amazon's data infrastructures, when this company says its technology supports Web-scale environments, people are paying attention.
Headquarters: Westborough, Mass.
Focus: Hyperconverged infrastructure
Why they're worth watching: Along with Nutanix, SimpliVity is rated by industry watchers such as IDC and Gartner as being among the top players in the emerging hyperconverged infrastructure market (or Integrated Systems, in Gartner's lingo) that more established vendors such as EMC/VMware, HP and Dell are also pursuing. SimpliVity claims it is "assimilating all IT elements below the hypervisor" -- including storage -- within virtualized and cloud environments. While some might still be debating exactly what hyperconvergence is or isn't (SimpliVity hits you over the head with links to definitions right on its website homepage), investors are big believers in this company, which former EMC executive and current SimpliVity CEO Doron Shempel launched in 2009. The privately-held outfit scored $175 in Series D funding in March at a valuation of more than $1 billion, making it a so-called "unicorn." This 500-employee company is rolling, and unlike some of the others in this article, is naming big names of customers for its OmniStack and OmniCube offerings, including the MLB Network and Waypoint. It's also partnering with big vendors, such as Cisco, and recently announced support for Cisco's UCS Director to automate infrastructure management.
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