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12 hot cloud computing companies worth watching

Brandon Butler | Sept. 6, 2012
While big-name players such as Amazon, Google, IBM, Verizon and VMware sit atop the burgeoning cloud computing market, an entire ecosystem of early stage startups are looking to stake their claim, too.

While there are a variety of other companies that provide social network monitoring, Ryan says Social Dynamx goes the extra mile to provide analytic tools on top of the stream of information it collects. Social Dynamx can be added on to social media monitoring tools, analyze information they collect and prioritize it based on the necessity of a response. "We basically filter out the noise and surface out things that are relevant, placing them in an actionable cue so you know what needs to be prioritized," Ryan says.

The company was founded by a group of enterprise collaboration and business analytics veterans, including Ryan, who was CEO of Sigma Dynamics, which Oracle acquired in 2006. Social Dynamx's CEO Mike Betzer headed up MCI's contact center operations before helping to start Social Dynamx.

The company uses Java-based software that is hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud to filter and prioritize information it gathers from the social media world. Social Dynamx works with individual customers to customize search terms, and target terms and specific vocabulary related to the company's product names, executives or services. The company even offers integration with customer relationship management (CRM) software to log communications and prioritize interactions with high-profile clients.


Focus: Application user management service Founded: 2011 Location: San Mateo Management: Co-founder and CTO Les Hazlewood is chair of Apache Shiro project Funding: $1.5 million seed funding from NEA, Flybridge, Benchmark Capital and WealthFrontProduct availability: Public beta 

Why we're watching: Stormpath is trying to make more palatable one of the peskiest parts about building an application: managing user access controls and all of the various accounts, passwords and authentication

Think about it this way: Any application that has more than one user needs a way to manage the different users' passwords, what parts of the application he or she can cannot access, as well as manage password resetting and account verification.

The problem, says co-founder and CEO Alex Salazar, is that "this stuff is hard to get right." Even for experienced developers who know how to build user access controls, it's not trivial to write code providing these features. Plus, Salazar says it's not something that is a distinguishing feature of your application, it's basically just something that applications need. Salazar points to high-profile breaches of companies like LinkedIn, Sony and eHarmony to illustrate how important user access controls can be. "If you get this stuff wrong it can be really bad."

Stormpath was born out of the vision of Salazar, a former IBM senior sales executive, and Les Hazlewood, a former enterprise architect at Bloomberg and Delta Airlines and one of the pioneers of the open source Java security framework Apache Shiro, which is a core piece of the Stormpath code. Salazar compares it to a trendy nightclub where Shiro is the bouncer standing at the door, providing the security framework, while Stormpath would be the guest list, dictating who is let in.


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