20th May 2024

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The 10 Hottest Networking Companies To Watch In 2024

The pending $14 billion HPE-Juniper megadeal is expected to shake up the networking market and could impact incumbent players such as Cisco. At the same time, networking newcomers are continuing to disrupt the market with multi-cloud and private networking offerings as well as SASE.


The networking market historically hasn’t been the hottest or most groundbreaking area of IT, but with so many emerging trends, including generative AI, and a massive potential acquisition looming in the market, all eyes should be on this space in 2024.

Similar to past years, networking heavyweights are still leading the wired and wireless markets as the year kicks off, but networking newcomers are increasingly carving out their own niches and making a name for themselves with new ways to approach networking that embrace current trends and customer requirements, such as multi-cloud and private networking.

And speaking of private networking, there are some startups that are taking advantage of new kinds of connectivity, including LTE and 5G, to fill in the gaps for enterprises as businesses extend their networks into new spaces. Cloud networking and Networking-as-a-Service upstarts, meanwhile, are serving up a new way for enterprises to obtain secure networking through consumption-based models without breaking the bank.

From those specializing in cloud networking and Networking as a Service, to Secure Access Service Edge, here are 10 of the hottest networking companies of 2024 to watch.


Alkira

Four-year-old startup Alkira has been a pioneer in agentless, multi-cloud networking. The San Jose, Calif.-based company emerged from stealth mode with its consumption-based Cloud Services Exchange (CSX), a unified, on-demand offering that lets cloud architects and network engineers build and deploy a multi-cloud network in minutes. Since then, the company has unveiled a collaboration with the Microsoft for Startups program, as well as a deeper relationship with Amazon Web Services, whose Marketplace includes Alkira CSX. Alkira also partners with Cisco Systems, Fortinet, ServiceNow and VMware, to name a few. Alkira goes to market primarily though channel partners.

The company last year launched its Alkira Extranet as-a-Service (EaaS) offering. Alkira EaaS uses the company’s global hyperscale cloud networking infrastructure so that customers can instantly connect a variety of enterprise-class B2B applications and resources, establishing any mode of on-premises and cloud connectivity. This service lets enterprises connect their customers, partners and third parties seamlessly and safely across highly distributed IT environments and multi-cloud networks. The company is picking up more higher-profile customers, such as SITA, an air transport IT specialist.


Aviatrix Systems

Hybrid cloud network startup Aviatrix Systems carved out a niche for itself in the secure, cloud-first networking arena by offering visibility into complex, multi-cloud networks for enterprises asking for cloud-native networking offerings that support new ways of accessing applications through what the company refers to as Intelligent Cloud Networking. An added layer to this is generative AI, which often demands infrastructural changes to traditional networks. Aviatrix believes that this could be its time to shine with its secure cloud networking portfolio.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company goes to market with partners and is seeking out solution providers that aren’t tied to the on-premises networking world. According to Aviatrix, the company has doubled its revenue every year since its start in 2018. Due to its sizable growth, the company last year brought on Doug Merritt, Splunk’s former CEO, as its leader to take the now-larger company to the next level, Aviatrix told CRN at the time.


Cato Networks

Israel-based Cato Networks has been developing Secure Access Service Edge technology (SASE) since its start in 2015, well before the market and the networking and security incumbents, such as Cisco Systems, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks, caught on, the company’s CEO told CRN in a recent interview. The networking and security worlds are becoming tightly integrated and it’s creating a hunger for SD-WAN and security tied together into one cloud-based offering this year. It just so happens that Cato Networks spent 2023 becoming an increasingly formidable player in the SASE market as one of the few stand-alone players.

Channel-friendly Cato last year brought on channel powerhouse Frank Rauch as its new global channel chief as the company looks to further disrupt the SASE space.


Celona

Four-year-old Celona burst on to the networking scene in 2020 with a platform that lets enterprises build and deploy 5G/4G LTE private networks, which filled a major gap in the wireless connectivity market at the time, especially with interest around private networking increasing for channel partners and enterprises alike. With 5G more mainstream and becoming increasingly widespread as of 2024, demand for cellular-based private networks is on the rise and Celona stands out as an innovative startup in this arena.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company goes to market via a strategic partnership with HPE Aruba Networking for the reselling of Celona’s cellular products. Channel-friendly Celona two years ago launched a new solution provider partner program on the heels of bringing on its first channel chief and closing its most recent, and oversubscribed, $60 million Series C funding round.


Cisco Systems

Cisco enjoyed growth in its networking and security businesses as a result of the pandemic as enterprises added to their infrastructures to support more users in geographically diverse and hybrid locations. Now, however, ordering has slowed as buyers digest and implement their purchases. Cisco during its most recent earnings call earlier in February noted “greater degrees of caution” related to product ordering during its fiscal second-quarter 2024. At the same time, the San Jose, Calif.-based tech giant confirmed that it would be cutting jobs globally to adjust expenses and investments to reflect the current macro environment. A week later, Cisco’s executive vice president and COO, Maria Martinez, had her position eliminated following the companywide layoff notice.

Despite the early 2024 pressures, it will be worth watching how one of the largest networking incumbents adjusts its strategy and bolsters its core networking portfolio of wired and wireless offerings this year. Also worth watching is how the expected HPE-Juniper Networks deal will impact Cisco.


Extreme Networks

Networking specialist Extreme Networks comes to market with its differentiated cloud networking platform and universal hardware, which provide choice and simplicity for customers. Like with Cisco, it will be worth watching how the expected HPE-Juniper Networks deal will impact Extreme Networks. Despite the company being a smaller competitor, Extreme Networks is considered a leader in the networking space, according to research firm Gartner.

Morrisville, N.C.-based Extreme recently made some personnel changes to its leadership team. In January, the company promoted Norman Rice, the company’s COO, to the role of chief commercial officer. Extreme Networks at the same time said that its CRO of more than three years, Joe Vitalone, resigned from his position but will serve in an advisory role with the company to ensure a smooth transition. Extreme Networks’ senior vice president of global channels, Scott Peterson, also left the company in late 2023.


HPE Aruba Networking

With the pending $14 billion HPE-Juniper Networks tie-up expected to close in late calendar year 2024 or early 2025, it’s safe to say that the entire networking industry is going to have its eyes on HPE. That’s because once the deal closes, channel partners believe that an HPE-Juniper Networkscombination will take “direct aim” at fellow networking behemoth Cisco.

HPE Aruba Networking, the wireless business that HPE gained when it acquired Aruba Networks in 2015, will gain Juniper’s expertise in AI networking, which today is powered by the powerful Juniper Mist AI engine. As a result of the deal, networking will become the new core business and architecture foundation for HPE’s hybrid cloud and AI offerings, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said when the deal was unveiled in January.


Nile

NaaS newcomer Nile exited stealth mode in 2022. The company is the latest brainchild of former Cisco Executive Chairman and CEO John Chambers, alongside co-founder Pankaj Patel, Cisco’s former executive vice president and chief development officer. As the NaaS market heats up, it’s worth keeping an eye on this startup. That’s because the San Jose, Calif.-based company offers a “reimagined” wired and wireless service that is delivered entirely as a service that gives channel partners and their midmarket and enterprise customers network simplicity, security and performance while lowering the total cost of ownership, according to the company.

Two-year-old Nile launched last year with its partner program, Nile Connect, in tow. The company in August raised $175 million in a Series C funding round, bringing its total funding to $300 million. The Series C round was co-led by March Capital and Sanabil Investments with participation from solutions by stc, Prosperity7, Liberty Global Ventures, 8VC, Geodesic Capital, FirstU Capital and Valor Equity Partners.


Prosimo

Multi-cloud networking disrupter Prosimo emerged from stealth mode in 2019 with its Application eXperience Infrastructure (AXI) platform that is modernizing and simplifying application delivery and experience across multi-cloud environments. The Prosimo platform can coexist with existing vendors in a customer’s environment or can be used to replace certain tools and features, such as zero trust or cloud peering, according to the company.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup earlier this month unveiled its new AI Suite For Multi-Cloud Networking, a set of capabilities that will ultimately help enterprises adopt, manage and troubleshoot AI applications and workloads. CEO Ramesh Prabagaran believes that the AI buzzword honeymoon period has officially come to a close and enterprises are ready to adopt AI to solve real business problems, he told CRN.

The company, which does 100 percent of its business through the channel, raised $30 million in Series B funding in its most recent funding round in 2022.


Versa Networks

SD-WAN-turned-SASE specialist Versa Networks comes to market with its Unified SASE platform that combines the company’s well-known SD-WAN technology with networking functions, including routing and security. The company’s architecture always emphasized the tight integration between the security and networking elements from its inception, according to Versa.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Versa in January launched a new line of unified SASE gateways capable of delivering more than 100-Gbps throughput as the networking and security worlds continue to converge. Versa’s two new high-performance appliances include the Versa CSG5000 and the Dell PowerEdge R7515. The devices can come preloaded with the Versa Operating System (VOS) for a combined SASE architecture.

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