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2010's IT Companies to Watch: Where are they now?

24 out of 25 startups still around, in some form

By , Network World
September 12, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Network World - Last year, Network World identified 25 IT startups poised to develop innovative technology for a new age of cloud computing, virtualization and mobility.

Nearly one year later, several of the companies have made big shifts, gotten acquired or even shut down completely. Most are chugging along, trying to build up their technology and customer base. Let's take a look at last year's "25 new IT companies to watch" and see where they are now.

THE ORIGINAL LIST: 25 hot products from new IT companies

MORE STARTUPS: 7 hot cloud companies to watch

First off, the aptly named Cloud.com was purchased by Citrix in July. Cloud.com was founded to help service providers and enterprises turn physical and virtual resources into infrastructure-as-a-service clouds, and could be a good fit under Citrix, one of the industry's top virtualization companies. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, so it probably wasn't a huge buyout.

On the other end of the spectrum, storage company Cirtas has given up. Cirtas built an appliance that works with cloud storage services by caching high priority data locally and storing secondary data in the cloud using WAN optimization technology. But it turned out to be a bust.

"Cirtas decided to pull out of the market back in April," because of "issues with product functionality," a Cirtas representative confirmed via email.

Cirtas went after the most difficult area of cloud storage -- using the cloud as a SAN extension of the primary storage tier via a local hardware appliance," analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group notes. Ultimately, "the product didn't work as expected," but "that does not mean this is not a viable market segment."

NoSQL vendor Membase is another company that went through a big shift, merging with CouchOne in February to form noSQL database vendor Couchbase. Couchbase just received third-round venture financing of $14 million to expand in the enterprise and international markets, and attracted 300 attendees to its inaugural developer conference in San Francisco in July.

A network virtualization vendor we have high hopes for, Nicira, is still in stealth mode but seems to be attracting some big customers. The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) issued a press release saying Nicira helped NTT implement a virtual machine live migration and cloud computing service. This helps NTT move data center operations to backup sites in case of disaster or overload.

Chip-maker Smooth-Stone changed its name to Calxeda in November 2010 and filled out its executive team with veterans of IBM and Polycom. Calxeda has boosted staff from 20 employees last year to nearly 50 and signed up partners including Canonical, Eucalyptus and the aforementioned Couchbase, but its product is still in the proof-of-concept stage.

As a potential challenger to Intel, Calxeda has to be counted as one of the most ambitious companies on our list. Another company with a gargantuan task is LightSquared, which plans to build out a 4G LTE network. LightSquared tells us its 10 customers include Sprint Nextel and Best Buy, the latter of which "will use LightSquared's service to deliver 4G wireless data service to consumers through its Best Buy Connect wireless service."

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