Windows Azure is already grabbing market share from more established cloud vendors.
Sure, plenty of other vendors – Google, Rackspace, Amazon and Salesforce.com, to name only a few – have a head start in this space. But what Microsoft lacks in early mover cachet it more than makes up for with ubiquity.
No matter how the big platforms shake out, though, problems remain. Security, management and licensing could all hinder broader cloud adoption. These 10 startups have novel solutions that will help drive adoption in 2010 and beyond:
What they do: The rapid adoption of virtualization technologies signals a major transition in the datacenter. Enterprises are achieving major benefits, including operational cost savings, consolidation of physical servers, and greatly streamlined deployment. However, understanding and locking down the security posture of virtualized datacenter infrastructures represents a significant challenge.
Altor tackles this challenge through a virtual firewall/IPS system that mitigates risks to virtualized and cloud-based applications and data.
Customers: Altor has 25+ customers, including Syracuse University, the U.S. Army, International Medical Corps, Ericsson and Nielsen Mobile.
Funding: $7.5 million in Series A and seed funding from Accel Partners and Foundation Capital.
CEO Amir Ben-Efraim was formerly head of business development at Check Point Software.
Headquarters: Redwood Shores, CA.
What they do:
Appirio bills itself as a provider of “both products and professional services that help enterprises accelerate their adoption of the cloud.” The company’s strategy is to focus on existing platforms, such as Google Apps, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce CRM, and provide tools and services that help customers leverage those platforms. These engagements, the company believes, will serve as a springboard to broader adoption of its cloud offerings.
Customers: Appirio claims over 2,500 customers, including Japan Post, Avago, Starbucks, Author Solutions and Qualcomm.
Funding: $16.7 million in total funding. The last round (Series C) closed in February 2009. Key investors include GGV Capital and Sequoia Capital.
Before taking over at Appirio, CEO Chris Barbin served as CIO and SVP of business operations at Borland Software.
Headquarters: San Mateo, CA.
What they do: One of the big obstacles to enterprise-class clouds is that data is locked into many applications that don’t always play well together. Delivered as a service, Boomi’s AtomSphere “can integrate any combination of SaaS, cloud and on-premise applications from its integration cloud without the need to install and maintain conventional integration products.”
Customers: Customers include Ingres, Marketo, Global Forex and EA Sports.
Funding: $4 million in Series A funding from FirstMark Capital and undisclosed investors.
Before joining Boomi, Bob Moul, President and CEO, was group president at MAXIMUS. Earlier, he spent several years at EDS where he held various roles, including director of EDS’ operations in Hong Kong and China, and executive director of its federal government business in Australia.
Headquarters: Berwyn, PA (suburban Philadelphia).
What they do: Canonical (along with Eucalyptus) developed and continues to support Ubuntu, one of the main OSes used for cloud deployments. The two companies continued to work together to further develop the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud.
Canonical is following the Red Hat model, deriving revenue from their support of an open-source project. They also deliver images of their server product for use on the Amazon EC2 cloud.
Customers: Canonical claims “hundreds or thousands of users” of Ubuntu on Amazon EC2. Meanwhile, they have pilots of UEC in place at “two major banks and a number of universities.”
Funding: The company is backed by an undisclosed amount of private funding.
Founder and CEO Mark Shuttleworth will continue to run the show until March 1, when current COO Jane Silber will take over.
Weird fact: In April 2002 Mark Shuttleworth flew in space as a member of the Soyuz mission TM34 to the International Space Station.
Headquarters: Isle of Man with offices in London, Boston and Taiwan.
What they do: Cloudkick provides tools to manage cloud servers within a number of environments, including Amazon EC2, GoGrid, Rackspace Cloud and Slicehost. With Cloudkick IT pros can monitor a number of critical server metrics, including load, CPU, bandwidth, memory, and disk space, through a browser-based agent.
Customers: This is an early stage startup that has not announced any customers.
Funding: $750K in seed funding from Avalon Ventures, with participation from Nueva Ventures.
Alex Polvi, CEO
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
What they do: Along with Canonical, Eucalyptus supports Ubuntu and the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. Eucalyptus also offers open source software that turns data-center resources into a cloud that can be controlled and customized by local IT, while also offering such capabilities as end-user customization, self-service provisioning, and legacy application support. Included APIs allow users to then extend internal apps to public clouds, such as Amazon EC2.
Customers: NASA and Eli Lilly.
Funding: $5.5 million Series A VC funding from Benchmark Capital and BV Capital.
Prior to co-founding Eucalyptus, Woody Rollins, CEO, co-founded Old Firehouse Capital.
Headquarters: Santa Barbara, CA.
What they do: Smartphone security, or rather lack thereof, is a disaster waiting to happen. Anyone who has seen PCs bog down when a bloated security suite runs knows that porting desktop-style security to the smartphone is a mistake.
Lookout’s approach is to combine two emerging technologies: smartphones and the cloud. A lightweight client communicates with cloud-based services to offer AV/firewall/ IPS protection, data backup and device lookdown/remote wiping if the handset is lost or stolen.
For any industry observers, one of the cloud’s biggest selling points is its potential to transform the mobile Internet. In order for the mobile platform to be truly enterprise-class, though, you can’t skimp on security.
Customers: For now, Lookout is a consumer, rather than enterprise security service. Currently, the beta version is free, although Lookout plans to charge a subscription fee in the future. Lookout also intends to release an enterprise version late this year or early next.
Don’t be surprise if Lookout or a startup like it follows the trail blazed by major PC security vendors and starts selling to the pipe providers, rather than consumers. It’s in the carriers’ interest to protect their networks by offering security as a free service to their own subscribers.
Funding: $5.5 million in Series A funding from Khosla Ventures, Trilogy Partnership and angel investors.
John Hering, CEO, founded Lookout (formerly Flexilis) with CTO Kevin Mahaffey in 2005. The two met as students at USC.
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
What they do: Being able to monitor performance and availability across multiple computing environments (legacy apps, multiple SaaS offerings, cloud-based apps, etc.) will become increasingly important as organizations begin to deploy more and more IT resources and applications in the cloud.
Nimsoft’s Unified Monitoring solutions enable users to monitor and manage performance, availability, and business services across IT infrastructures – including SaaS, hosted, and cloud environments.
Customers: The company claims nearly 1,000 customers, including Rackspace, 1&1, Bluelock and Enki Consulting.
Funding: $12 million in two round of funding from Goldman Sachs, JMI Equity and Northzone Ventures.
Gary Read, President and CEO, previously founded Converse Software in 2002, which merged with Norway-based Nimsoft Software. Read of course became CEO of the merged company. He also formerly served as VP of Marketing at BMC Software.
Headquarters: Redwood City, CA.
What they do: Legacy storage platforms were not built to satisfy today’s virtual and cloud-based infrastructures. ParaScale’s software transforms user-selected, commodity hardware (including repurposed servers) into enterprise cloud storage. With ParaScale, performance and capacity can scale independently, and applications can run directly on ParaScale’s platform, transforming physical storage into a flexible, virtual layer that simplifies management and reduces costs.
Customers: Customers include Carpathia Hosting, BC Networks, Voxel, Sony Pictures Imageworks and the Stanford Genome Technology Center.
Funding: $11.37 million in Series A funding from Charles River Ventures, Menlo Ventures and undisclosed investors.
Before ParaScale, CEO Sajai Krishnan was GM of the StoreVault Division of NetApp.
Headquarters: Cupertino, CA.
10. Tap In Systems
What they do: Maintaining control is one of IT’s biggest challenges as data and apps sprawl over virtualized infrastructures and the cloud. Tap In Systems gives users control over virtual infrastructures, automating the deployment of cloud services around IT policies. Tap In claims that its system, which is built around open-source Nagios, keeps applications “running smoothly by monitoring all your cloud services with a single management system that is integrated with your operational processes.”
Customers: This is an early stage startup with no announced customers.
Funding: Only angel funding to date.
Peter Loh, co-founder and CEO, was previously in charge of engineering for GroundWork Open Source.
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA