Itential Makes Prestigious List of Top U.S. Firms

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By: Mary Jander

Scrappy Georgia automation startup Itential has popped up on the Inc. 5000, a list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Published by Inc. magazine annually, the list is a sought-after trophy for small U.S. firms.

Itential is ranked 1,568 on the list, showing a growth rate of 276.8% over the three-year period. According to Inc., the median growth rate for companies on the list is 165% over the same period.

Founded in 2014 and based in Atlanta and the U.K., Itential has been at the forefront of a move toward multi-domain network orchestration, or an approach that Futuriom calls integrated automation platforms (IAPs), which lean heavily on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to generate a software representation of all network elements, no matter where they reside. The goal is to configure and manage the hybrid environments that continue to spread in enterprise and service provider networks, an approach known in the industry as "abstraction."

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Itential's rapid growth is attributable to a range of high-profile customers, including some top service providers, such as Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, a raft of financial services companies, and significant partners, including Cisco and Red Hat.

Addressing Integration with APIs

The trend toward increased investment in cloud services continues to gain momentum as the COVID-19 pandemic forces companies everywhere to support increased remote and distributed work. Also, growing high-bandwidth wireless connectivity (5G), edge computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and other emerging technologies have IT focused on ways to scale and manage hybrid resources.

But this digital transformation demands a virtualized, automated method of configuring and managing these environments. Enter Itential, whose Network Automation Platform uses software management and APIs to abstract away the command-line interfaces (CLIs) of older switches, routers, firewalls, and servers with more modern cloud-based management consoles.

“[W]e are managing networking infrastructure with consolidated orchestration and controllers giving us a software interface to the network,” said Itential co-founder and CTO Chris Wade in an interview with Futuriom early this year. "That’s the most important thing — having a software representation of the network which can be managed individually.”

How Itential Works

Itential streamlines the collection of management and control data in network elements and virtualizes it in its own management and automation software. The Automation Studio add-on, announced in January 2020, lets IT construct forms using a “drag and drop” interface tied to data modeling languages YAML, YANG, and TOSCA. The result is an easier way to govern a range of older element management systems, among other resources. The package also features pre-built automation routines and templates that reflect network management best practices. And developers can use open APIs to automate workflows.

The concepts behind Itential’s approach overlap with those of a range of other suppliers, including Amdocs, Ciena Blue Planet, Netcracker, and UBiqube. A Venn diagram might also intersect with companies such as Aviatrix, whose CEO Steve Mullaney stresses the need for orchestration platforms that incorporate sophisticated API connections.

What Inc.'s List Means

Inc.’s 5000 is a great promotion for significant U.S. startups, and Itential’s inclusion demonstrates how interested enterprises and service providers have become in adopting virtualized, automated management of digitized environments. (Ed note: Check out the recent survey of 2,400 IT decision makers worldwide conducted by the Aruba business unit of HPE for data that supports this direction.)

Itential’s sector in the Inc. 5000, termed Software, includes 551 honorees. Topping the Software list — and also the entire Inc. 5000 — is OneTrust, which specializes in organizing data for automated compliance with international security laws. This company showed an astounding 48,337% growth rate this past three years.

Clearly, Itential is focused differently than OneTrust. And Inc.’s categories are questionable: Aryaka Networks, for instance, ranked 2,778 with a 144% growth rate. It is categorized as an IT System Development firm, though most would call it a specialist in software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN).

No matter. Itential can boast about its growth, and point to a range of market data to indicate it’s headed in the right direction. Given the foggy outlook most enterprises face, that’s a welcome beam of light.

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