In the past year, we’ve seen the demand and need for cloud communications and infrastructure accelerate. The COVID-19 pandemic has pointed to the need to build a highly efficient and agile virtual infrastructure that can scale on demand – this includes cloud storage and compute, networks, and communications applications that enable organizations to thrive and function in the digital world.
At the core of this has been some key technologies, including distributed cloud networking, unified cloud security, cloud automation, edge cloud and cloud data management. Let’s dive deeper into these trends and the top private companies driving them.
Digital transformation means that organizations are using the scale and agility of the cloud to deliver better workflow, collaboration and efficiency for daily work. Emerging cloud infrastructure and communications technology make all of this possible.
In recent years, most of the innovation in cloud and communications infrastructure has come from the venture-backed startup community. Some of the great success stories we have followed in this market that have had successful Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) in the past few years include Atlassian (TEAM), Cloudflare (NET), Crowdstrike (CRWD), Datadog (DDOG), Fastly (FSLY), Fortinet (FTNT), Okta (OKTA), Snowflake (SNOW) Twilio (TWLO) and Zscaler (ZS).
All of these companies have featured prominently in our research.
Some key innovations are making this possible: Open hardware systems, software-defined infrastructure, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Kubernetes and cloud automation and cybersecurity driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are some of the more important developments.
Recently, my firm Futuriom decided to delve into these areas of our research from the past 12 months to create a “best of” report. Futuriom analysts combed through a year of our reports and blogs, poured over thousands of our surveys and debated current trends. We then came up with a list of five key trends and then we named the top 40 private companies leading innovation in these areas.
Key trends in cloud infrastructure
The bottom line? Futuriom predicts strong demand for technology in some key cloud trends. Here’s an overview of what’s happening in these important areas of cloud innovation:
Trend #1: Distributed Cloud Networking. Software-driven networking technologies including software defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) and multi-cloud networking (MCN) using Web interfaces and API gateways will be used to build secure, dynamic, virtualized networks to connect distributed applications running across clouds.
Trend #2: Unified Cloud Security. Integrated cloud security tools will increasingly leverage automated data ingestion, artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) to monitor and detect applications and identity-driven behavior and remediate anomalies.
Trend #3: Cloud Infrastructure Automation. Clouds and cloud-hosted applications are becoming increasingly complex and can no longer be managed by humans. Cloud automation will use real-time collection of data, AI, and abstraction of infrastructure elements using APIs to build software orchestration and automation tools that respond to changing conditions and needs in real time.
Trend #4: Edge Cloud. As the cloud expands to billions of new devices via networks such as 5G and more powerful digital transformation of industry, it requires a wide range of new technology to enable multi-cloud orchestration, distributed compute and data management at the edge of the network, which can include cell towers, retail branches and industrial sites, for example.
Trend #5: Cloud Data Management. As the scale of cloud workloads grows, so does the proliferation of data. It must be managed effectively and securely to service the needs of cloud applications.
Private companies driving cloud
To develop our final list of the Top 40 Private Companies, Futuriom analysts gathered data on all the companies included in our reports over the past year, consulted with a team of trusted industry veterans (including end users and investors), and then had a meeting to reach consensus on the top trends and companies for the final list.
The top companies that we identified: Alkira, Arrcus, Aryaka Networks, Auth0, Aviatrix, Cato Networks, Cockroach Labs, Cohesity, Couchbase, Darktrace, Databricks, DriveNets, EDJX, Exabeam, Fivetran, Fortanix, HashiCorp, Infiot, Itential, Kentik, Lacework, Macrometa, NetFoundry, Netris.AI, Netskope, PacketFabric, Pensando, Pureport, Rubrik, Saguna Networks, StackPath, SUSE/Rancher Labs, Tigera, Triggermesh, TrueFort, Vapor.io, Versa Networks, Volta Networks, Weaveworks, and ZEDEDA.
These private companies will help drive the important cloud infrastructure trends and set the stage for much innovation to come in the next few years. I’d watch these companies carefully, as they will be the leaders and they are most likely to be acquired by larger companies – or go public. In fact, one of the companies we had on the the initial list – Volterra – was acquired during this report’s production!
If you are interested in reading further, we have published this free report on our website (registration required).
R. Scott Raynovich is the founder and chief analyst of Futuriom. For two decades, he has been covering a wide range of technology as an editor, analyst, and publisher. Most recently, he was VP of research at SDxCentral.com, which acquired his previous technology website, Rayno Report, in 2015. Prior to that, he was the editor in chief of Light Reading, where he worked for nine years. Raynovich has also served as investment editor at Red Herring, where he started the New York bureau and helped build the original Redherring.com website. He has won several industry awards, including an Editor & Publisher award for Best Business Blog, and his analysis has been featured by prominent media outlets including NPR, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, and the San Jose Mercury News. He can be reached at [email protected]; follow him @rayno.
Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceTelecom staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceTelecom.