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12 hot cloud computing companies worth watching

Cloud innovations focus on mobile, software-defined networking, monitoring and management

By , Network World
September 05, 2012 11:08 AM ET

Page 2 of 5

Domo

Domo

Focus: Business intelligence software 
Founded: 2010 
Location: American Fork, Utah 
Management: Founder/CEO Josh James, who also started the Omniture Web analytics service  
Funding: $63 million, including from Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff
Product availability: Not saying yet
Fun fact: Changed name to from Corda to Domo, meaning "thank you" in Japanese, which is the reaction the company hopes it elicits from customers using the service 

Why we're watching: You'd think Josh James would have been thrilled to sell Omniture to Adobe in 2009 for $1.8 billion, but he had frustrations: He says it wasn't easy to get access to all the reports he needed as CEO. HR reports were in one area and file system, financial and operational reports in another.

Now James is back on the startup scene with cloud-based business intelligence software vendor Domo looking to solve that problem.

"We're focused on helping business executives get the information they want, when they want it, how they want it," says Julie Kehoe, vice president of communications. The company remains fairly hush-hush about its technology as it continues to operate in stealth mode, but Kehoe says Domo can handle anything from sales to HR and online/offline marketing information from across an enterprise and beyond. "When we talk to customers right now, they talk about all the promises of analytics tools, but the No. 1 pain point is not having all their information in one place," she says. Domo is designed to work on top of and alongside existing reporting applications, including Salesforce.com's CRM tool.

James got the company started by purchasing Corda, another analytics firm, and changing the name to Domo. No word yet on when the product will be released, but industry watchers expect it to be next year.

Embrane

Embrane

Focus: Virtualized network appliances 
Founded: 2009 
Management: Former Cisco spin-in execs Dante Malagrinò (Embrane president/CEO) and Marco Di Benedetto (CTO) 
Funding: $27 million from North Bridge Venture Partners, Light Speed Ventures and NEA 
Product availability: Version 2.0 is generally available

Why we're watching: What's the next big thing in cloud computing? If the buzz in the network industry is any indication, it could be software-defined networking (SDN).

While SDN promises to virtualize network Layers 2/3, it does not address the upper layers, 4 through 7, and that presents an opportunity to Embrane, says John Vincenzo, vice president of marketing. [Also see: "Startup founded by ex-Cisco execs pushes software-defined networking"]

RELATED: Tech explainer: Software Defined Networking

Embrane's software, which it markets as Heleos, virtualizes load balancers, firewalls, VPNs and other services, allowing the applications to be provisioned in minutes and dynamically scaled as needed. It gives the functionality of a hardware appliance in the convenience of a software package, Vincenzo says. "In the evolution of IT infrastructure, virtualization has hit the compute and storage layers, but the network has still not caught up," he says.

Embrane doesn't compete directly with SDN players such as Nicira and Big Switch, but company officials hope to position its offering as a complimentary service that can be used inside or outside an SDN environment to virtualize network applications. It could be used either as an on-premise or via the cloud.

As SDN continues to gain market clout, particularly with VMware's recent $1.2 billion Nicira acquisition, Vincenzo says Embrane is expecting a big push by enterprises to virtualize various parts of the network. If they're not ready to take the full plunge into SDN though, he says virtualizing the upper layers of the network and the applications serving it can be less daunting, but equally fruitful in achieving increased network agility. "Any enterprise that needs to rapidly deploy new applications, or manage multiple private cloud deployments could benefit from easier deployment of network applications," he says.

Garantia Data

Garanatia Data

Focus: Redis and Memcached NoSQL database optimization and management 
Founded: 2010 
Location: Santa Clara, Calif., and Tel Aviv, Israel 
Management: Former F5 Networks execs 
Funding: $3 million in angel funding 
Availability: Generally available for free as a public beta

Why we're watching: The world used to be a place of structured data, neatly organized in Excel spreadsheets showing the metrics of a business. But data today is big and unstructured, and there are increasingly popular databases used to handle such information.

Two of the most popular are Redis and Memcached, both of which are NoSQL in-memory databases, allowing them to be faster than traditional databases that store information in disk storage or flash memory. Some of today's leading Web companies use these technologies: Flickr and GitHub are among Redis users for unstructured data, while Memcached is employed by Twitter, Zynga, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Netflix.

But these open source databases aren't really plug-and-play ready for developers. Most notably, Redis by default is not easily scalable and Memcached does not inherently provide for high availability.

In steps Garantia, a company that attempts to ease the management of in-memory NoSQL databases. "Lean back and let us do the heavy lifting for you," pleads CEO Ofer Bengal, who co-founded the company along with CTO Yiftach Shoolman, former president and CTO of network management company Crescendo Networks, which was purchased by F5.

The key to the technology, Bengal says, is Garantia's ability to compress files while automatically sharding them, which saves memory space and ensures the fastest possible retrieval.

Garantia services currently are only offered through Amazon Web Services marketplace, but in the future Bengal hopes to attract other public cloud providers. The company also will look to expand support to other database types.

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