Canadian startup among ones to watch in 2008

Last year Network World designated more than 90 start-ups as worth watching. After a second look, we narrowed the list down to these companies – one Canadian and nine American – as newcomers offering offering agility, seamless integration and pervasive connectivity to enterprises.


Founded: January 2003

Headquarters: Toronto

What it offers: The Converged Services Node and other products that perform fixed mobile convergence (FMC). Comprising hardware and software, the company’s systems offer a session brokering function that allows a call on a single device (such as a cell phone) to be handed off to Wi-Fi or vice versa. A call also can be transferred to a different device on a different network, for instance, linking traditional PBX calls to Wi-Fi handsets.

Why we like it: FMC allows companies to treat mobile phones like PBX extensions. NewStep gear expands connections to IP phones, softphones and other handheld devices, as well as traditional phones, without requiring a forklift of current hardware. Plus, NewStep says it supports Microsoft Live Communications Server, which means it doesn’t simply route calls, but helps provide presence information for Microsoft Unified Communications shops. Since we first profiled the company in January, NewStep has been testing interoperability on a long list of technologies. These include tests of Code Division Multiple Access/Wi-Fi handsets with Kyocera Wireless, GSM/Wi-Fi handsets with Paragon Wireless, Linux handsets tests with E28, and dual- and multi-mode handsets with Hellosoft. It also has proved interoperability with IP PBXs from Asterisk, Avaya and Cisco.

How it got its start: Founders, who saw FMC technology as a “new step” for carrier voice services, spun the company out of Bell Canada to address the emerging market.

Management: The team includes CEO Neil Baimel, who is former CEO of Syndesis, maker of service-fulfillment software for service providers, and Lloyd Williams, vice president of engineering. Williams, formerly a researcher at Bell Canada, has authored more than 25 patents.

Funding: $27 million from Vengrowth Private Equity Partners, Newbury Ventures, BDC Venture Capital, B.E.S.T Fund and Bell Canada.

Who uses the product: Embarq, BT and Bell Canada, plus the company says enterprise customers in Europe are in various testing phases.

Interesting fact: NewStep has filed for more than 16 patents for its Converged Services Node software.


Founded: June 2004

Headquarters: Santa Clara

What it offers: The V-8000 Virtual I/O server, an appliance that converts individual storage and networking interfaces from commodity x86 Windows/Linux servers into a single pool, operating on a 10G fabric.

Why we like it: The appliance makes virtual resources appear to servers as if they are locally attached, with full administrative support for network multipathing, port bonding and trunking. The appliance solves the I/O bottlenecks that occur as enterprises add more virtualized servers. “It’s definitely a problem to scale up lots of virtual machines on a cluster and not be able to scale up the I/O at the same time. 3Leaf is addressing this,” said John Abbott, chief analyst at The 451 Group in our original profile of the company in August. Since then, 3Leaf Systems has made solid progress. It signed on a new CEO, B.V. Jagadeesh, founder of Exodus Communications and former CEO of NetScaler. It joined the VMware Community Source program for closer collaboration with VMware on technology development. It launched provisioning software for its V-8000 Virtual I/O device and was named to a few more “best” lists like this one.

How it got its start: 3Leaf was founded to solve such problems as the low reliability and resiliency of I/O spawned by virtualization. To come up with its name, founder Bob Quinn e-mailed company supporters for ideas. Clover Systems (playing off the idea of a shamrock and Quinn’s Irish heritage) was one name suggested, and it morphed into 3Leaf Systems.

Management: Quinn, who moved from CEO to CTO and chairman with Jagadeesh’s arrival, founded and held executive positions with Network Virtual Systems and iMODL. Other co-founders include Scott Lurndal, who previously founded XML PKI company NanoBiz (acquired by VeriSign) and Isam Akkawi, who held lead technical positions at Unisys, nVidia and others.

Funding: US$32.5 million in two rounds, from Alloy Ventures, Enterprise Partners, Intel Capital and Storm Ventures.

Who uses the product: Savvis, as well as several financial institutions and a number of Fortune 100 companies.

Interesting fact: John Kelley, former McData CEO, is on the board of directors.


Founded: February 2007

Headquarters: Chicopee, Mass.

What it offers: Apatar open source software that lets customers integrate information from in-house applications, external data sources and applications hosted on the Web.

Why we like it: The Apatar tools help applications easily share data without programming. By creating a single data stream out of multiple back-end sources, Apatar also can eliminate storage of duplicate data. Since we first profiled Apatar in April, the company has been steadily growing customers and gaining attention for its tools, particularly for legacy CRM/ERP applications. In November, the tools became available on’s AppExchange directory and the same month the company joined the MySQL Enterprise Connection Alliance, a third-party partnership for the popular open source database. These tools have been likened to Yahoo Pipes for the enterprise — they use a visual interface that lets users drag and drop to build an application. No coding required.

How it got its start: CEO Renat Khasanshyn previously headed Altoros Systems, a distributed product life-cycle management company that ran data integration projects for customers that needed to meld databases and applications but couldn’t pay the steep price of tools offered from vendors such as IBM and Informatica. Altoros mostly hand coded each project, which was time consuming and vulnerable to errors, Khasanshyn says. He set out to create an open source data-integration tool that put the kibosh on manual coding. The company earned its name when Khasanshyn had about 20 friends vote on a list of about five short names, each starting with the letter “A.”

Management: Besides heading Altoros, Khasanshyn, who emigrated to the United States from Russia in 2001, previously had been vice president of engineering at PriMed, a discount insurance company in Tampa, Fla. Funding: $500,000 from Altoros, Khasanshyn and co-founder Andrei Yurkevich.

Who uses the product: More than 400 users, including Allianz, Alcatel-Lucent, Amgen, Autodesk, Credit Suisse, University of Massachusetts and WellCare.

Interesting fact: Like Khasanshyn, other company founders and senior managers are Russian.


Founded: December 2003

Headquarters: Santa Clara

What it offers: The Maestro File Manager family of appliances, which virtualize file-level storage, particularly for unstructured data housed in files created by Microsoft products. The appliances discover the files and handle non-disruptive data migration, server retirement, data consolidation, tiering and global namespace across Windows file servers and network-attached storage.

Why we like it: These appliances eliminate the hours IT managers can spend working out how to locate and ar