TechWeb

12 Most Disruptive Enterprise IT Vendors

Sep 24, 2010 (08:09 PM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=227500587


God bless the IT disrupters, those startups and established vendors that have caused enterprises to rethink and even redefine the way they evaluate, buy, deploy, manage and use information technology. They're not always the most entrenched or dominant IT vendors, but they've shaken up the status quo with their new products, architectures, approaches and models. Think Apple in the consumer market and how it has disrupted the way people buy, share, manipulate and use music and web information. The following enterprise IT disrupters list is a natural successor to the top 20 list of the most strategic enterprise IT vendors that I laid out in February of this year. As before, these selections, which take into account input from several InformationWeek editors, are presented for your evaluation and critique. It's far from an exhaustive list, so we’re open to hearing about other movers and shakers. But let’s keep this analysis focused on enterprise IT vendors.

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




In less than a decade, VMware -- No. 8 on my earlier list of most strategic IT vendors -- has initiated a wholesale reorganization of data center and systems management around the virtualization of the software layer. In a recent InformationWeek Analytics survey, 45% of respondents said their companies planned to have at least half of their servers virtualized by the end of 2011. Next stop for VMware, according to my colleague Charlie Babcock: managing the creation of the private cloud through its virtualization software layer. "Being the supplier of hypervisors and virtual machines translates directly into cloud formation, cloud use, cloud monitoring and cloud management, also known as more advanced data center management," he says.

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




Another vendor that straddles the "strategic" and "disrupter" camps, Salesforce.com practically established software as a service as an enterprise IT model, for its CRM applications, then ramped up Force.com as the leading development platform for a range of SaaS-based business apps. Having established the model, Salesforce is now itself branching into other application areas, most recently collaboration with the launch of its Facebook-like Chatter app.

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




While Research In Motion and other vendors (as well as various Linux committees) fiddled with their responses to the iPhone, Google's Android roared from zero share of the U.S. smartphone operating system market in 2007 to 17% in the most recent quarter, when it was the only platform to increase its share, according to ComScore. Today, Android trails only BlackBerry (39%) and iPhone (24%). As my colleague Fritz Nelson notes, Google may just win the smartphone platform wars because it has positioned Android much as Microsoft did Windows: agnostic about everything except using its OS. Meantime, Google Apps has yet to make its mark in the enterprise, but plenty of companies are using that web-based productivity suite as leverage to strike better deals with Microsoft.

FURTHER READING:

Top 15 Google Apps For Business

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




The whole concept of buying compute and storage resources on demand got off the ground with Amazon Web Services, which now is almost synonymous with the public cloud and "infrastructure as a service." Eli Lilly and several other companies are exploring using AWS services in more than just niche areas, while entrenched enterprise vendors such as Microsoft, IBM and HP are in various stages of responding. So far, however, the potential reach of AWS services may exceed their grasp. While Amazon.com doesn't break out AWS revenue, it's an undisclosed fraction of the "Other" category in the company's financial statement, a category that generated $653 million of Amazon.com's $24.5 billion in total net sales in its most recent fiscal year.

FURTHER READING:

Amazon's Case For Enterprise Cloud Computing

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




The current frenzy around "big data" appliances -- combining storage, processing, database and analytics into a single, high-performance system -- was pioneered a decade ago by a startup, Netezza, which today counts hundreds of enterprise customers, including Nationwide, Neiman Marcus and NYSE Euronext. IBM further validated that market last week with its bid to acquire Netezza for $1.7 billion, positioning itself mainly against Oracle, Teradata and HP.

FURTHER READING:

Global CIO: Will Larry Ellison Launch Bidding War With IBM For Netezza?

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




Among information security disrupters, my colleague Tim Wilson, editor in chief of sister site DarkReading.com, likes Vontu, now part of Symantec. Vontu took the concept of data loss prevention and turned it into a standard enterprise security technology within about four years. DLP was the first real effort to stop insider threats and accidental data leaks, which were glaring security weaknesses for years but were not addressed by any of the existing antivirus, IPS, or other technologies.

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




Vidyo's value proposition is simple: Bring "good enough" multiparty videoconferencing to the masses via PCs, Macs and high-definition room systems, over standard IP lines, at a fraction of the cost of high-end telepresence systems from Cisco and others. We've been hearing this pitch for decades, but Vidyo appears to have the technology and momentum to help make it happen.

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




This $25 million to $30 million vendor of enterprise software support services isn't on our list for what it has accomplished as much as for what it represents: a cut-rate alternative to the 22% annual maintenance fees charged by SAP and Oracle, which are eating up a big chunk of companies' IT budgets. Rimini Street, which is being sued by Oracle for allegedly stealing Oracle's software and intellectual property, isn't backing down: It announced last week that it will expand beyond its SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel maintenance and support services to cover Oracle's E-Business Suite of products starting next year.

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




Any company whose slogan is "Take the sh out of IT" isn't afraid to ruffle a few feathers. My colleague Art Wittmann calls Splunk, whose software monitors, reports and analyzes live streaming IT data as well as historical data, the "poor man's security event management" tool, leaving the likes of ArcSight to the high end. Says another colleague, NWC.com editor Mike Fratto: "These guys put the cool into logging by making searching easy and fast. All the other log management vendors followed suit, building or rebuilding their search systems."

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




Unlike most of the other vendors on this list, AMD is a large ($5.4 billion in revenue last year), established player. But few enterprise IT vendors shook up their sector like AMD did back in 2003 with its release of Opteron, creating a new category of 32/64-bit processors. That shot over Intel's bow led to a series of multicore chip battles between the two vendors and huge advances in server-processor performance.

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




How many companies enter Cisco's core networking market with a breakthrough innovation -- in Riverbed's case, WAN optimization tools that improve the performance of critical applications -- and manage to lead that sector for years to come?

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors




Everything from Linux at the operating system level to open source databases, content management systems and application development tools have put downward pressure on software costs while putting the commercial vendors on their toes.

FURTHER READING:

Down To Business: The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors