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12 cloud computing companies to watch

12 cloud computing companies to watch

Venture capital investment has rebounded in recent years to healthy levels and one segment of the technology market that's basking in this is cloud computing.

Investments in cloud computing companies rose from $2.1 billion in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2012, and according to Dow Jones VentureSource's numbers from 2013, $3.4 billion more was invested through the first three quarters of the year.

"We're at the early stages of the impact cloud computing will have on the broader market," says North Bridge Venture Partners' Michael Skok, who estimates that the cloud has penetrated less than 10% of the roughly $300 billion software market. "That makes people very bullish."

Startups are forming up and down the cloud stack, from optimizing infrastructure services to offering development platforms. There are applications served from the cloud and new classes of apps that could not have been made without the cloud. Network World has scanned the universe of cloud computing startups founded within the past few years and built this non-exhaustive list of companies (listed in alphabetical order) that give a glimpse of what's to come in this fast-growing market.

+ MORE AT NETWORK WORLD: Previous cloud companies to watch (from 2012)  | Network virtualization, SDN and data center companies worth watching  +

Company: CloudLock Focus: Provides security on top of Google Apps and by ensuring that sensitive information is encrypted and being handled correctly.Management: CEO Gil Zimmerman was entrepreneur-in-residence at VC firm Cedar Fund before co-founding CloudLock. Before that, he held positions at Sun and EMC. Co-founder Tsahy Shapsa is formerly of Sun and Network Appliances.Founded: 2007, but rebranded in 2010Based: WalthamFunding: $28.2 millionInvestors: Cedar Fund, Ascent Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture PartnersFun Fact: Co-founders Shapsa and Zimmerman served in the Israeli Defense Forces, and Shapsa served in the Israeli Prime Minister's office as a security team leader. Now, both executives run networking events in the Boston area for Israeli- startups.

The cloud fundamentally changes the security paradigm: Instead of having potentially sensitive information on your own premises behind a firewall, it is now on your provider's cloud. The key to being comfortable with that model is knowing that your most sensitive data is protected, and that's where CloudLock focuses.

The company provides data security, encryption and auditing services for workloads, specifically those in the and Google clouds.

"It's all about knowing where the crown jewels are stored," Shapsa says. Once policies are created to instruct CloudLock about what it is looking for, it can identify that information and let users know whether or not it is encrypted, where it is located and who has access to it.

CloudLock can, for example, scan Google Drive and identify all of the credit card and Social Security numbers stored in the cloud to ensure they are encrypted properly. CloudLock uses APIs from the services it is protecting to provide the services, as well as proprietary, custom-made tools. CloudLock itself is hosted on Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine. The company runs all of its computations, scans and analysis through AES 256-bit encryption itself, and CloudLock works without opening or reading or storing the content of any documents or sites to ensure security of its customers.~~

Company: CloudMunch Focus: Application lifecycle management software for devops and agile development processes.Management: Co-founder and CEO Pradeep Prabhu is former VP and head of SaaS at Infosys. Co-founder and CTO Prasanna Raghavendra was head of engineering in Infosys's SaaS practice.Founded: 2011Based: SeattleFunding: $1M seed roundInvestors: Svapas InnovationsFun Fact: CloudMunch has a completely distributed workforce across the globe with no central office. All employees work from their home and the company manages its operations using its own technology.

Devops codifies the idea of software developers and infrastructure operations workers cooperating, though getting them to do so can be more easily said than done. CloudMunch has created application life-cycle management software aimed at smoothing this approach.

"Developers are adopting an agile model for building web, mobile and customer facing apps," CEO Prabhu. "But when the time arrives to hand the app off to the operations side after the development is done, they run into multiple challenges."

CloudMunch works across a variety of public and private cloud or infrastructure platforms, from Amazon Web Services to Windows Azure to OpenStack. PaaS tools like Cloud Foundry or AWS's BeanStalk are even supported. By having developers and operators both on the CloudMunch system, it allows developers to track and create the software in a collaborative process, but also gives the ops team insight into what resources are needed to run the application. That allows infrastructure to be provisioned from an application-centric point of view, according ot CloudMunch.

The company is looking to break into the enterprise market, specifically targeting companies that are developing web, cloud, mobile, big data and customer-facing applications that need to be continually tested and modified.

Company: CloudPhysics Focus: Uses a SaaS platform to deliver big data analytics to optimize how data centers runManagement: Here's the story on the four co-founders: CEO John Blumenthal was formerly director of product management for VMware's ESX storage stack and before that he worked at Veritas Software. CTO Irfan Ahmad was also a VMware engineer, while VP of Operations Jim Klechner was with Currenex and Chief Scientist Xiaojun Liu worked at Google, and Sun.Founded: 2011Based: Mountain ViewFunding: $12.5MInvestors: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Mayfield Fund, Mark Leslie, Peter Wagner, Carl Waldspurger, Nigel Stokes, Matt Ocko and three VMware co-founders Diane Greene, Mendel Rosenblum and Ed Bugnion

It's not an uncommon story: A smart employee works at a successful company and has an idea of how to improve a product or solve a problem that the company's customers have... but that the company can't or doesn't want to undertake.

For five years, CloudPhysics CEO Blumenthal worked on VMware's market-leading ESX hypervisor. In doing, so he ran into customer after customer who had trouble determining just how many virtual machines could be crammed into a server. The answer always seemed to be: It depends.

"It was an unsatisfying answer for me," he recalls. "The dynamic nature of virtualized infrastructures constantly changes the answer. In essence, the idea of planning for capacity is not a static activity; it's an ongoing process." Blumenthal and CloudPhysics are using big data to answer complex questions about how systems are and should be running.

CloudPhysics' users download a virtual appliance that attaches to their virtual infrastructure and aggregates data from thousands of users. By looking at this massive amount of data, CloudPhysics searches for patterns of good and bad things. The SaaS recommends configurations for maximum performance, conducts root cause analysis of problems that arise, and helps operations professionals determine the effectiveness of a measure before it is taken, such as whether a solid state disk should be cached or not.

Numerous companies offer resource optimization services for applications, including those in cloud environments. But none has been focused solely on the hypervisor layer, which is where CloudPhysics gets all its info.

North Bridge Venture's Skok says virtualized environments have put new strains on systems, which has led to a market opportunity for analytics to optimize them. "With these guys coming out of VMware, they have a unique insight into what to look for," he adds.~~

Company: CloudVolumes Focus: Application virtualization and management softwareManagement: CEO Raj Parekh is a founder of Redwood Ventures and previously held CTO and VP-level positions at Sun.  Co-founder and CTO Matthew Conover is a former technical director at Symantec, while fellow co-founder and VP of Products Shaun Coleman was director of product management for Citrix XenDesktop.Founded: 2011Based: Santa ClaraFunding: $23.5MInvestors: TiE Angels, Kumar Malavalli, Sanjog Gad, Rob Thomas, Bill Crane (former VP Engineering LinkedIn, VP Engineering Proofpoint)Fun Fact: CEO Parekh is a serial entrepreneur, who in 1998 founded Redwood Venture Partners, which has invested more than $250 million across 30 companies. He sits on the boards of more than 15 companies, including as chairman at some.

In a world of so many applications, it can be difficult for IT shops to keep up with them all. "Shadow IT" -- or the issue of employees using cloud applications without IT knowing about it -- can be a huge security and logistical challenge. Enterprises need a way to control or rein in these rogue apps while still allowing employees to be productive, and that's where CloudVolumes comes in.

The company's software offers a way of managing anything that sits on an OS across an organization. CloudVolumes essentially virtualizes everything above the operating system, abstracting away the applications from the hardware and networking. "Once you uplift the app, you have the ability to have complete control over it," Parekh says. By "ungluing" the application from the OS, it allows the application to be deployed across one or hundreds of machines, all while still giving IT control over the application. Virtual desktops are one of the company's most popular use cases thus far.

When CloudVolumes is installed, the software captures the critical information an application or database needs in order to run, and creates a volume with it. That volume can then be attached to any, or many virtual machines. Applications can be made available to one user, or to thousands, in a few clicks within an administrative console.

Analyst Paul Burns at Neovise says there is no shortage of companies virtualizing various layers of the stack, from the compute, storage and now even the networking layer. But CloudVolumes' approach has him intrigued. "Just as you can mount' a remote server to make its files available through your local file system, CloudVolumes lets you mount an entire application stack to make it available on the local machine," Burns says. "This makes it really easy to deploy entire application stacks on the fly, to either desktops or servers. You simply mount the desired application stack and the applications are available. You no longer have to install or patch applications on each server or desktop, which can be time consuming and error prone."

The company is gaining attention from some of the biggest players in the industry. In the past year CloudVolumes has signed partnerships with Citrix and Dell. Earlier this year, CloudVolumes made its software available to run in VMware virtual environments.

Company: Digital Ocean  What they do: Public IaaSManagement: The team came from hosting company Server Stack, including CEO Ben Uretsky and VP of Marketing Mitch Wainer.Founded: 2011Based: New York CityFunding: $40.4M

+READ MORE AT NETWORK WORLD Startup Digital Ocean lands $37M to take on Amazon in the cloud  +

Investors: Andreessen Horowitz, IA Ventures, CrunchFund, TechStarsFun Facts: Digital Ocean was born out of the TechStars startup accelerator program, which provides seed funding via more than 75 venture capital firms and angel investors. The named Digital Ocean is meant to be a play on words: The company's compute services are named Droplets, like those formed from the water in the ocean and that make clouds.

Some investors believe that the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market is already saturated. Not only does Amazon Web Services sit atop the market, but big players like Microsoft and Google have set their sights on IaaS, too. So how can a startup like Digital Ocean possibly compete?

The company's founders and management team point to the fact that they used to run a managed hosting provider, so they know a thing or two about infrastructure. Digital Ocean's cloud architect held the same title at IaaS company GoGrid. Plus Digital Ocean is very focused: It's targeting developers and its goal is to be the simplest-to-use cloud on the market.

Digital Ocean also competes aggressively on price. It offers a base-level virtual machine image for less than a penny per hour ($0.007 per hour), although it does only come with 512MB of memory. By comparison, AWS's lowest-cost micro instances start at $0.02 per hour.

Since launching its service to the general public in January 2013, Digital Ocean has grown its customer base to 100,000 users.

According to Netcraft, which monitors cloud usage, Digital Ocean added more new accounts on a month-over-month basis in November and December than even AWS. So, perhaps the IaaS market isn't fully settled just yet after all.~~

Company: Docker Focus: Based on an open source project, Docker offers an alternative approach to virtualization to apps developers via containerization technology.Management: dotCloud was founded in 2010 by Solomon Hykes as a Platform-as-a-Service company. In March, 2013, Solomon and other members of the dotCloud team released, an open source engine to deploy any application and its dependencies as a lightweight container that runs virtually anywhere. In early 2013, the company rebranded to Docker and Ben Golub former CEO of Gluster and Plaxo -- was brought on board as CEO.Founded: 2010Based: San FranciscoFunding: $26MInvestors: Greylock Partners, Insight Venture Partners, Benchmark, Trinity Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Y Combinator, and SV Angel.Fun Fact: Docker's headquarters is jungle-themed.

Before the advent of shipping containers, long-haul commerce used to be a lot more difficult. Boxes and cargo were all different shapes and sizes, which made moving them difficult. But Malcom McLean revolutionized global trade in the 1950s by standardizing modern metal shipping containers, making them easier for cranes to grab and for resting on any ship, train or truck. Pretty much anything can be packed inside a container, it doesn't really matter what it is. So long as it fits, it will get to its final destination.

Computing has its own version of shipping containers dubbed Linux Containers that can be packed with pretty much any application. These compute containers can run on a variety of platforms, too, including public clouds, virtualized private clouds and non-virtualized bare metal servers.

Docker is the company that is aiming to commercialize the open source Docker project, which is designed to make creating, assembling and managing such compute containers easier. Though founded in 2010, the company has really hit its stride in the past year. It changed its name from dotcloud to Docker last year, brought on a new executive team, signed partnerships with Red Hat and OpenStack, and in January the company raised $26 million in venture funding, led by VC firm Greylock Partners.

"It's OS-level virtualization," says Jason Hoffman, the former CEO/CTO of Joyent, and now an executive at Ericsson. "If you don't need operating system heterogeneity, OS level virtualization makes a lot of sense." He estimates that containers could allow four times as many instances on the OS by virtualizing the OS level instead of the hardware level with a traditional hypervisor.

Docker backers say containers can have a distinct advantage over virtual machines. Containers run above the operating system, so unlike a VM they don't carry the extra baggage of needing to run an OS in the container. That frees up space to store more applications.That could also be seen as its downfall, too, though. Without the ability to control the OS, all applications in the container must be running on the same OS. That may not be a problem for an all-Windows or all-Linux shop, but how many of them are there these days?Nevertheless, if containers get big, Docker could be one of the companies driving that change.

Company: ElasticBox Focus: Management software that allows apps to be portable and run regardless of whether their underlying infrastructure is one of many public or private clouds.Management: CEO and co-founder Ravi Srivatsav has held senior engineering and product management positions at IBM and Microsoft, where he most recently worked in cloud computing. Other executives include co-founder and CTO Alberto Arias Maestro, the former chief architect of DynamicOps, which was bought by VMware and now serves as the basis of the company's multi-cloud provisioning tool. Timothy Stephan, VP of Product, was formerly head of product at mobile device management company MobileIron.Founded: 2011Based: Mountain ViewFunding: $3.4MInvestors: Sierra Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, AngelPad, Raymond TonsingFun Facts: Co -founders Srivatsav and Maestro each had twins within two months of each other, and all four of their kids are younger than 3 years old. The company also has an active Facebook page, where it posts photos such as of team members with a life-size cardboard cutout of David Hasselhoff.

Contrary to what some may believe, the cloud is not just about managing infrastructure it's about delivering services. That's the fundamental belief of ElasticBox. "Too many people are doing application management by doing infrastructure management," explains CEO Srivatsav. ElasticBox takes a different approach that allows organizations to manage their applications, regardless of the infrastructure underneath.

ElasticBox uses Boxes, which analyze an environment and capture all of the relevant data about the architecture. It collects all the scripts needed for installing the application, and analyzes all of the relationships with other services that exist, such as which databases and operating systems are used. It captures all that information in its "Box," which can then run on a variety of different infrastructures. "It's like putting lego pieces together," Srivatsav explains.

This approach eliminates the need for operations professionals to spend hours taking the time to fine-tune infrastructure to ensure it's just right. Instead, with the ElasticBox approach, the same application can run on a variety of underlying infrastructures when it's in the Box. Boxes aren't just Linux containers though: they're more advanced than that because they analyze the makeup of the application and replicate that on other infrastructures. By doing so, customers' automation tools like Puppet and Chef still work on the application.

Analysts seem to like it: "ElasticBox seems to be scratching the right customer itch by allowing large Web 2.0 and enterprise clients to create standardized, automated, repeatable application-deployment plans," writes 451 Research Group's Jay Lyman in a recent report on the company. "(ElasticBox) may also be well positioned to serve as a neutral cloud broker of sorts by supporting application-deployment automation along with other technologies and in a variety of environments, from traditional datacenters to public and private clouds."

ElasticBox founders say the platform is ideal for development and test environments where an application can be developed in the public cloud, then brought back in-house for production, or the other way around. It allows applications to be portable across different cloud providers too. ElasticBox now supports Windows Azure, Amazon Web Services, HP and Rackspace, along with VMware vSphere and OpenStack-powered private clouds.~~

Company: Jelastic Focus: Jelastic is hoping to pioneer the idea of a Platform as an Infrastructure. Jelastic is a cloud platform that runs on bare metal or virtualized servers to create a cloud that intelligently monitors and provisions the infrastructure based on the needs of applications running on it.Management: Co-founders are CTO Ruslan Synytsky and CFO Alexey Skutin. Synytsky formerly led engineering and software architecture teams at iQueLab, SolovatSoft and Datamesh. Jelastic brought on CEO John Derrick, who has extensive experience in advising and growing startups.Founded: 2011Based: San MateoFunding: $2.5MInvestors: Maxfield Capital, Runa Capital, Almaz CapitalFun Fact: Co-founder Synytsky is a former engineer and programmer for the National Space Agency of Ukraine.

There's a trend going on in the cloud world that some believe represents a convergence of two major cloud deployment models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). (Read more: Is the PaaS market as we know it dying?) PaaS is all about cloud-based application development, so the idea is that IaaS and SaaS vendors are making it easier to develop applications for their own environments by partnering with PaaS companies.

Jelastic is a company that embodies that same notion of a converged cloud system, but it wants to cut out the middle man. Instead of an IaaS or SaaS vendor partnering to enable a PaaS, Jelastic has PaaS features built right into its offering. Company officials describe it as "platform as an infrastructure."

Some may think that's just a clever way to get two buzzwords into a single tagline, but the folks at Jelastic say that combining infrastructure management with application management provides end users many advantages compared to using these services separately.

Jelastic sells a software package that can be plugged into an existing environment, on top of bare metal or virtualized hardware, to create a cloud. Unlike an IaaS though, Jelastic monitors and analyzes the applications that are placed in this environment. So, the infrastructure can intelligently scale up or down based on the application's needs. That is the fundamental advantage of the platform. "It's virtualization for an entire cluster," says CEO Derrick. The software handles code management for the cluster, it provisions the resources that application needs. "It's an IaaS that is guided by the behaviors of the applications," he explains.

In a recent report about Jelastic, research firm IDC said the company is "well positioned for the future within the PaaS-IaaS continuum." Jelastic started off selling to service providers, but is now looking to expand into the enterprise market. "Addressing the largest segment -- the (enterprise application) code-driven segment -- of the PaaS market and the largest segment of the code-driven opportunity (Java apps), Jelastic is also offering a relatively smooth path to migrating Java and PHP apps to the cloud."

Company: KoalityFocus: Speeding up code testing, via the cloud.Management: Co-founders Jonathan Chu (CEO), Jordan Potter (COO) and Brian Bland (CTO) all worked at software analytics firm Palantir Technologies.Founded: 2012Based: San FranciscoFunding: $1.8MInvestors: FF angel investor, Webb Investment Network, Felicis Venture, Index VenturesFun Facts: The name Koality plays off the idea of code "quality." The logo is of a Koala bear hugging a repository.

Developers spend a lot of time building code, which for many businesses turns into the lifeblood of their operations. An inevitable part of coding is testing it to make sure it actually works, and on big projects, testing can take a long time. And if the tests don't catch bugs, then it can significantly slow down the development process. That's the problem that Koality is aiming to solve, and it's using the power of an elastically scalable cloud infrastructure to do it.

"The goal is to change the development process to make it much more streamlined," says CEO Jonathan Chu. "We're taking testing cycles and compressing them."

In a basic sense, Koality takes code that developers have created and runs lots of tests on it across many virtual machines in the cloud all at once. This gets a lot of testing done in a very small amount of time. The company's core commercial platform uses parallelization, offering an alternative to open source tools that run tests individually one after another.

The other important part of Koality is a proxy system, which checks each test in search of errors and bugs, alerting the developers of any code that has problems with it.

Koality software sits behind a company's firewall and uses a virtual private cloud (VPC) in Amazon Web Services for the compute capacity to run the tests. So all of the testing and coding are done in secure environments.~~

Company: nCrypted Cloud  Focus: Encrypt files stored in consumer cloud services like Box, DropBox and Google DriveManagement: Founder and CEO Nick Stamos served as CTO of Phase Forward, a health care IT company that was bought by Oracle after he left. He also founded security company Verdasys and served as its president until 2011. Co-Founder and CTO Igor Odnovorov also worked at Phase Forward and Verdasys.Founded: July 2012Based: BostonFunding: $3M in angel fundingInvestors: Former Cisco, Microsoft executives

In 2012, Nick Stamos was doing consulting work after spending eight years growing Verdasys, a company he started to provide data loss prevention and encryption services to enterprises. One day he got a call from a friend associated with Mitt Romney's presidential campaign who dropped this bombshell: Romney's DropBox account had been hacked and there was concern that accounts of campaign allies might be vulnerable. Stamos, a security industry veteran, was asked if he had any bright ideas. He wasn't satisfied with anything on the market, so started building nCrypted Cloud, which became a company.

The platform encrypts files stored in popular cloud storage services like DropBox, and soon Google Drive, Box and Microsoft Sky Drive, and provides IT department centralized visibility into what employees are storing in those clouds. The company initially focused on providing a freemium-based service to consumers, but Stamos said within months of starting up nCrypted colleges and universities began calling to see if they could roll out the tool across their campuses for employees. So, nCrypted began serving the education and health care sectors, and now is being piloted at more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies.

The company is still in the early stages it has received less than $3 million in angel funding from former Cisco and Microsoft executives and will likely be seeking additional venture funding to scale itself.

nCrypted uses a technique that puts files across cloud storage platforms in a .zip container, which is then encrypted. The system then creates a unique authentication trigger for each user that automatically authorizes them through native apps supported by nCrypted. For the end user, there are no extra passwords to remember or separate platforms to log into. Users simply see a new icon in the shape of a lock to know that their content has been secured by nCrypted.

For enterprise customers, IT managers gain visibility into what documents are stored across cloud storage platforms. nCrypted wants to be the platform that will allow companies to enable employees to continue to use those systems, but in a secure way.

Company: PernixData Focus: Flash virtualizationManagement: Co-founder and CEO Poojan Kumar most recently served as head of data products at VMware; Co-founder and CTO Satyam Vaghani was VMware's Principal Engineer and Storage CTO.Founded: 2012Based: San JoseFunding: $27MInvestors: Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mark Leslie, John Thompson, Lane Bess, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersFun Fact: Investor John Thompson is now Microsoft's Chairman of the Board.

Compute and server resources have been virtualized and network virtualization is underway as well. But what about storage? As cloud computing has become more pervasive in the enterprise, users are running into storage bottlenecks.

"The fundamental problem is how to get storage performance that can keep up with your private cloud and virtualization," says CEO Kumar. The solution to this problem has been replacing traditional spinning media storage devices with flash, including solid state drives (SSD). But Kumar says that's not enough. "Just using SSD creates another box that leverage flash," he says. PernixData instead takes a software approach.

Similar to how compute virtualization works, this "flash hypervisor" essentially decouples the storage management from the hardware. PernixData software currently supports VMware co-founder Satyam Vaghani was one of the first VMware employees and was CTO of the company's storage division before leaving to start PernixData with Kumar but  does plan to support additional hypervisors in the near future. The software runs atop any flash storage too, so it's hardware agnostic, meaning that it doesn't require any new hardware investments for users to get up and running.

Veritas founder and CEO Mark Leslie, an investor in PernixData and an adviser to the startup, says he was attracted to the ease of use of PernixData.

"It's a simple software installation drop-in and it allows you to get huge operational performance boost," he says. "The economics are compelling."~~

Company: Salsify Focus: Cloud-based Product Information Management and Exchange for e-commerce websitesManagement: All three co-founders formerly worked at Endeca, an e-commerce search and navigation software purchased by Oracle for $1.1 billion in 2011. Salsify CEO Jason Purcell was Endeca's 24th employee and ran its e-commerce business. VP of products Jeremy Redburn ran product management and marketing for Endeca's business intelligence unit. VP of Marketing Rob Gonzalez ran marketing and product management for Cambridge Semantics.Founded: 2012Based:  BostonFunding: $8M series A financing; the company had been bootstrapped by its founders before then.Investors: North Bridge Venture Partners, Matrix PartnersFun Fact: The salsify plant is a cousin to the dandelion and is the namesake of the company. "It is beautiful, low maintenance, and spreads like wildfire -- all qualities we think the worlds of product content management, syndication, and distribution need," the Salsify website says.

While working at eventual Oracle $1 billion-plus acquisition Endeca, the three men who would go on to start Salsify were amazed about how much of a problem inventory management was for many e-commerce companies they were attempting to optimize their search results for. There are other businesses out there that will help companies manage product information Hybris, for example, was snapped up by SAP for $1.5 billion -- but Salsify says offerings from such companies can cost up to a half million dollars to set up. There had to be a better way. And it was through the cloud.

Having product information of e-commerce websites in the cloud is a no-brainer, says Marketing VP Gonzalez. E-commerce companies log all of the products they sell on their website into Salsify's software, and the system automatically tracks everything that's needed to know about the products for the consumer. The real value though is how it makes it easier for e-commerce companies to expand the products on their website. If many different e-commerce companies place their products into Salsify's cloud, then it will be as easy as point and click for another e-commerce outfit to resell a partner's product on its website. Retailers can upload products directly into the Salsify cloud, and instantly thousands of others retailers will have access to that product.

"There are two sides to this: brands & manufacturers need a way to prepare product information for many different downstream channels, each with unique requirements (images for one must be 500x500 jpgs, for another 1500x1500 .jpgs, one needs a 50-word description, another a 200-word description, etc.)," Gonzalez explains. "On the other side, retailers and distributors are receiving data from hundreds of suppliers and need to be able to quickly validate the information and nag about any errors. Both sides are done largely by hand right now, which is incredibly time-consuming."

The company just began actively selling Salsify in the summer of 2013 after being founded in 2012, but it's already raised $8 million from North Bridge Venture Partners and Matrix Partners. "E-commerce isn't slowing down, it's speeding up," says Skok, the North Bridge Venture capitalist who is also an investor in Salsify, explaining the market opportunity for the company. Skok was attracted to the team that is building Salsify given their previous $1.1 billion exit. Skok calls Salsify a core piece of infrastructure to enables transactions in the e-commerce world.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here.  

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