The behind-the-scenes nature of data center means that they often get passed over in conversations about innovation. While they might not be as compelling as other aspects of the enterprise, data centers are fertile soil for technological advancement.
Advances in server technology, data processing and distribution, networking, and storage mean that data centers are more powerful and efficient than they have ever been. Most of these advancements came about as the work of small, new companies.
What was once only the territory of large incumbent corporations, innovation in data centers is now driven by a host of startups. Here are five startup companies that are looking to shake things up in the data center.
CloudGenix bills itself as a software-defined enterprise WAN. Being a software-define WAN means that users can program and configure network resources for all locations from a central software. The company came out of stealth mode earlier this year with a software that simplifies networking between a company's headquarters and its satellite offices.
By virtualizing the network, CloudGenix allows users to manage different types of apps, users, and policies, as well as allowing different types of connections to work in tandem. CloudGenix is already working with clients such as Columbia Sportswear Company and Coca-Cola. The company, founded by a Cisco veteran, raised $9 million earlier this year.
For many companies, improving the data center starts with adding more and more — more capacity, more bandwidth, and so on. Kasah Technology wants to enable clients to do more with the infrastructure that they have. The company has developed a proprietary technology for image compression and decompression, with virtually no loss of quality.
The technology focuses solely on JPEG files, which Kasah can make up to seven times smaller than its original size. The reduced file size frees up storage and makes the transmission of files becomes more efficient. The company claims it can cause an 85% increase in available bandwidth and can make file transfer up to seven times faster on existing network infrastructure.
Founded by a former VMware executive and a former head of data products at VMware, PernixData offers software that virtualizes flash storage that boosts virtual machine (VM) performance without any changes to existing data center infrastructure. According to the company's website, it can improve VM response times by up to 10 times.
PernixData is built on the idea of separating performance from capacity, what it refers to as "decoupling." In theory, this should help lower costs and improve flexibility when it comes to operating your data center.
Launched in 2012, NIMBOXX has been called a data center in a box. The goal of the company is to bring hyper-scale computing capabilities to companies of all sizes, including SMBs who may not have the resources to pursue a traditional virtualization deployment. Out of the box, the NIMBOXX appliance can have VMs up and running in under nine minutes, according to the website.
NIMBOXX is KVM based, relying on the same KVM hypervisor used in hyper-scale data centers run by companies such as Google and Amazon. With a NIMBOXX deployment, one interface manages the entire stack, comprising storage, hardware, network, virtualization, and guest operating systems.
Rex Computing has built high-powered servers powered by ARM chips. Specifically, they are powered by multi-core ARM processors made specifically for servers by a company called Xilinx. The servers are built to provide the same amount of power as their traditional counterparts, while using significantly less power to operate.
The company was founded by 17-year-old Thomas Sohmers, as part of his participation in The Thiel Fellowship run by Peter Thiel. Sohmers dropped out of high school to start the company with co-founder Kurt Keville. Rex Computing made its debut at the Open Compute Project Summit in San Francisco earlier this year.
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.