10 hot hybrid-cloud startups to watch

With few enterprises using purely private or purely public cloud infrastructure, a range of startups has emerged to meet unique hybrid-cloud needs for management, storage and virtualization. Here are 10 hot hybrid cloud startups to keep an eye on.

clouded view of data center
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As the cloud matures, many businesses are finding that not every application belongs in public clouds. Due to regulatory issues, security risks, data ownership concerns, and fears of cloud lock-in, many applications are stubbornly rooted in on-premises architectures.

The startups in this roundup understand that, and rather than trying to sweet talk enterprises into forklift upgrades, these startups are willing to work under hybrid-cloud constraints.

The startups below federate data, making it available from any cloud to any application; provide application virtualization software, which enables enterprises to move workloads to and from various clouds at will; provide cloud file systems that optimize and mobilize data, and much more.

One thing to note: We did include a few hybrid cloud storage startups, and even a data analytics one, because they all operate at infrastructure levels or they push infrastructure features up to the application layer. They are cloud-enabling tools, in other words, rather than add-ons, enhancements or cloud-delivered ones. Click here to see how we chose the 10 startups to watch.

The 10 startups below are redefining what the hybrid cloud is, enabling enterprises to quickly and cost-effectively adopt new data-intensive technologies such as IoT, AI, Big Data, machine learning and more.


What they do: Provide application virtualization and hybrid-cloud management software

Year founded: 2014

Funding: $6 million in seed and Series A funding from KPCB and Costanoa Ventures

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

CEO: Rahul Ravulur, who previously led the product management team for availability products at VMware

Problem they solve: Moving complex business-critical applications to the cloud is a challenging, labor-intensive process. AppOrbit argues that for most companies a full transition to the cloud is too expensive and time-consuming to justify the benefits. Migration, security, networking and data ownership issues, to name only a few headaches, undermine the perceived advantages of the shift.

How they solve it: AppOrbit eases the transition to the cloud by pushing virtualization up the OSI stack from the infrastructure layer to the application layer. “Just as VMware freed the OS from the underlying bare metal, AppOrbit frees applications from the underlying OS and bare- metal infrastructure,” said AppOrbit’s VP of Marketing & Strategy, David Morris.

AppOrbit provides three products to help enterprises virtualize and containerize business-critical apps to move them to the cloud:

  • AppPorter is a legacy application modernization platform that analyzes and transforms legacy applications into containerized applications that can be transitioned into the cloud.

  • AppVizor is an application management and development platform that facilitates the continuous development of modernized and cloud-native applications. AppVizor creates a layered container structure to accelerate the development and deployment of new features and functionality.

  • AppSwitch virtualizes network and security configuration, control and management at the application layer rather than at the traditional infrastructure layer. This approach frees applications from the typical infrastructure/cloud lock-in efforts by existing vendors.

Competitors include: Docker, VMware, RedHat and Cisco
Customers include: Airtel, Ericsson, AutoDesk, Micron and Vodafone

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: AppOrbit has a strong senior leadership team with plenty of exit experience. CEO Rahul Ravulur participated in the due diligence for several VMware acquisitions, and David Morris, vice president of marketing and strategy, helped lead exits including Kazeon’s acquisition by EMC, Cetas’ acquisition by VMware, and EMC/VMware’s divestiture of Pivotal.

Even though AppOrbit has only raised $6M to date, they already have big-name customers like Ericsson and Vodafone. The company pushes virtualization up the stack to the app layer, freeing enterprises from the inevitable trade-offs that come with vendor-lock.


What they do: Provide a data-lake-intelligence platform for hybrid clouds

Year founded: 2013

Funding: $45 million from Wells Fargo, Industry Ventures, Storm Ventures, UMC, Comcast and XSeed Capital

Headquarters: San Mateo, Calif.

CEO: Chris Lynch. Prior to AtScale, Lynch co-founded and served as a general partner at Accomplice, a venture-capital firm that invests in early stage tech companies. Before that, he held leadership roles at tech startups including Vertica, Acopia Networks and Arrowpoint Communications. 

Problem they solve: Hybrid clouds have a data problem. As businesses embrace Big Data, AI and automation, they still run into roadblocks when it comes to freeing data from application silos. Even if they are able to free data, the next obstacles they face are often security and privacy. 

How they solve it: AtScale’s OLAP (online analytical processing) software is built on Hadoop and is designed to automatically federate disparate data silos into a unified data lake, helping enterprises use cloud architectures to modernize applications and accelerate AI, Big Data, machine learning and other data-intensive initiatives.

AtScale is a self-provisioned environment for customers who are either migrating to the cloud or running business intelligence (BI) across hybrid-cloud environments.

AtScale is deployed as a layer on top of application databases, creating a “universal semantic layer” that enables end users to query the newly federated data from BI tools (Tableau, Microsoft Excel, PowerBI), as well as from custom APIs. Data is shielded by several security protections, including encryption, masking and role-based access policies.

Competitors include: Dremio, Databricks, Arcadia Data and Xplenty
Customers include: TRAC Intermodal, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Home Depot, Visa, Toyota and GlaxoSmithKline

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: AtScale might fit more in a Big Data roundup, but its focus on creating a middle Universal Semantic Layer is compelling.

AtScale landed a capable new CEO Chris Lynch at the end of June. Before joining AtScale, he led Vertica to its acquisition by HP. After he left HP, he co-founded the venture firm Accomplice, where he invested in DataRobot (where he serves as Chairman), Sqrrl, Hadapt (acquired by Teradata), Nutonian, and others.

The startup has raised $45 million in funding, and named customers include several Fortune 500 companies.


What they do: Provide hybrid-cloud file storage for the enterprise

Year founded: 2013

Funding: $70+ million from Battery Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, CE Ventures and strategic investors including Dell EMC, Cisco, and Western Digital

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

CEO: Erwan Menard, who previously served as President and COO at Scality

Problem they solve: While cloud adoption in the enterprise continues to rise, many organizations struggle to embrace the cloud in ways that make sense for their particular use cases. Too often, cloud infrastructure feels like a one-size-fits-all proposition, and many organizations worry about releasing their sensitive data to third-party cloud providers.

How they solve it: The Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) is software-defined data infrastructure designed for the efficient management of dynamic workloads across heterogeneous environments. Elastifile’s data fabric allows users to dynamically shift data between on-premises and cloud environments, scaling storage infrastructure as needed. By exposing data in the cloud via an enterprise-grade file system, Elastifile enables customers to run existing applications in the cloud without needing to refactor them.

Elastifile also manages data tiering between its file system and object storage. Its cloud infrastructure can be dynamically spun up (or torn down) on demand, enabling enterprises to closely match infrastructure spending to business need, and it provides granular data monitoring and policy-based controls.

Competitors include: Incumbents like NetApp and Dell EMC as well as startups like Cohesity, Rubrik and Weka.IO
Customers include: eSilicon Corp., Silicon Therapeutics and HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology 

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: Elastifile is backed by significant VC funding from major organizations, and their senior leadership team has plenty of experience in the storage and cloud sectors, as well as a track record of successful exits. CEO Erwan Menard previously served as President and COO of both Scality and DDN Storage, and before that he was vice president and general manager of the Communications & Media Solutions Business Unit at HP.

Shahar Frank, Elastifile’s CTO and co-founder, was a co-Founder of XtremIO, where he served as chief scientist until the company’s acquisition by EMC. Roni Luxenburg, Elastifile’s vice president of R&D and a co-founder, was vice president of R&D and director of software engineering at Qumranet, which was acquired by Redhat.

Finally, Elastifile focuses on data to free it from app silos, while also serving as a cloud gateway (CloudConnect) between an enterprise’s on-premises applications and the cloud.


What they do: Provide hybrid cloud infrastructure automation tools

Year founded: 2012

Funding: $74 million raised in three rounds of funding from Mayfield, GGV Capital, Redpoint and True Ventures

Headquarters: San Francisco, Calif.

CEO: Dave McJannet, who was previously vice president of marketing at GitHub and Hortonworks

Problem they solve: One of the primary challenges of cloud adoption today is heterogeneity. How can operations, security, and development teams apply a consistent approach to provisioning, securing, connecting and running hybrid, multi-cloud infrastructures efficiently?

For most organizations, the move to the cloud means navigating the transition from a relatively static pool of homogeneous infrastructure in dedicated data centers to a distributed fleet of servers spanning one or more cloud providers. This means you have to rethink your approach to each layer of your infrastructure — provisioning, security, application runtime and connecting this all together.

How they solve it: HashiCorp’s solution to cloud heterogeneity is to provide cloud infrastructure automation products at each layer of the cloud stack, from infrastructure provisioning and automatic network configuration to cloud security and policy enforcement.

HashiCorp starts with open-source software and adds proprietary features – mostly focused on workflow automation, security and interoperability – to help enterprises control the often-chaotic shift to the cloud. HashiCorp argues that this approach allows the startup to focus on helping customers with workflows, rather than worrying about specific underlying technologies, which are constantly changing anyway.

According to a company spokesperson, HashiCorp software was downloaded 22 million times in 2017. The company offers the following products:

  • Terraform automatically provisions cloud infrastructure (public, private or hybrid) for any enterprise application.
  • Consul provides a distributed service-networking layer to connect, secure and configure applications across an enterprise’s clouds.

  • Vault secures both applications and infrastructure, providing access control, identity management and encryption.

  • Nomad is a cluster scheduler that helps an organization automate the deployment of any application on any cloud infrastructure.

Competitors include: AWS (CloudFormation), Microsoft (Azure Resource Manager), CyberArk, and IBM Cloud

Customers include: Barclays, Citadel, Pandora, Jet, Pinterest, Segment, Spaceflight and Cruise

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: HashiCorp has top-tier customers and has also secured $74 million in VC funding. When you’re basing your service suite around open-source projects, you can then use that funding to achieve interoperability, build out your sales pipeline, establish a solid brand identity and attract the talent needed to grab market share from incumbents.

The company’s C-level executive team has plenty of experience with successful exits, having helped lead IPOs from Hortonworks, New Relic and BEA, as well as the acquisitions of SpringSource by VMware (what became Pivotal) and Compose by IBM.


What they do: Provide a hybrid-cloud management platform

Year founded: 2016

Funding: $49 million in three rounds of funding including a $25 million Series C round on September 12. Backers include a new investor, HighBar Partners, along with previous investors Atlantic Bridge Capital and Acero Capital.

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

CEO: Nariman Teymourian, who previously served as SVP and GM for HPE

Problem they solve: Current IT stacks are siloed and difficult to connect. As enterprises migrate business-critical applications to the cloud, they discover that the must: rely on multiple vendors, which slows deployment schedules; recruit and retain highly skilled technical staff in a tight labor market; and either eliminate or automate a cascade of manual processes.

Moreover, once new applications are up and running, the typical hybrid-cloud-app ecosystem requires multiple platforms to manage it, which adds both complexity and cost.

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