(Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

Data Center Technology Startups to Watch in 2016

You won’t find hot SDN, cluster management, flash, or application container startups on this list. We specifically chose to narrow it down to companies we feel are addressing some of the biggest pain points in data center design and management.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but the startups listed here are trying to solve big problems in interesting, innovative ways. Feel free to suggest other companies that should be on this list by submitting comments below or on our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+.

Vapor IO

Few companies have attempted to challenge the way people think about data center design as radically as Austin-based Vapor IO, which came out of stealth in March, has. The startup proposes that straight rows of IT racks and hot and cold aisles between them is not actually the most efficient way to use space or energy in the data center.

Its alternative, the Vapor Chamber, which consists of six wedge-shaped server racks arranged in a cylinder. Cold air comes into the servers from outside, and warm air gets exhausted into a “hot column” inside, which replaces the hot aisle. Exhaust air gets sucked out at the top of the chamber.

Vapor Chamber from all angles (Image: Vapor IO)

Vapor Chamber from all angles (Image: Vapor IO)

Vapor, which announced its first funding round earlier this month, claims its chamber saves space and offers a way to deploy a high-density data center anywhere with enough air conditioning and power. The company’s founder Cole Crawford likes to say that a defunct video rental store will do.

Vapor’s primary target is the quickly growing edge data center market. As more and more media content gets consumed online, and as businesses rely more and more on cloud services, the need for data center capacity in places that aren’t known as major data center markets, is growing quickly.

The startup also has developed a commercial server and rack management software product called Vapor Core and open sourced a portion of it as OpenDCRE, or Open Data Center Runtime Environment.

Crawford took part in the creation of OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure software that has become the primary alternative to building clouds using VMware’s technology. He’s also held several senior leadership roles at the Open Compute Foundation, which oversees the Open Compute Project, Facebook’s initiative that aims to bring benefits and philosophy of open source to hardware and data center design.

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About the Author

San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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  1. Check out Project Rhizome, as well. It provides an interesting take on what data centers could be architecturally - not something that most of us think of daily when we think of data centers, but still highly important.