Based on our decision to tilt toward vendors with customer traction that also seem agile or green field, we ruled out nominations for bigger outfits like TIBCO or Information Builders. It was clear though that the rebound of 2010 leading into this year has lifted larger businesses like those as much as it has an Aster Data or Kognitio.
In the mix of high performance database, columnar, in-memory and appliance vendors, last year we chose to rule out many since the category had so many worthy contenders. But with acquisitions of Greenplum, Vertica and Netezza and others pending, we reopened the door to ParAccel, while wondering whether they and the others might still be around when next year's list arrives.
Compared to last year, even more providers on the list have ties to bigger service platforms like Salesforce.com. We almost broke out a SaaS-only list, though the database sellers and some others offer multiple ways to deploy. Software or service, where we might have fallen short is in areas of IT management and monitoring software and services, which, despite their obvious importance, we placed behind tools aimed at the front office and the top line.
So there you go. A lot of boats were lifted in 2010 and for what it's worth and for all the uncertainty that remains, we're pretty happy to have 2009 so far in our wake.
More details about the companies on our list can be found in our slide show.
What: Data warehousing, analytics, reporting as a service
Why: Those who don't like the cost and risk of DIY might also find better time to data through uploading raw data to hosted analytical database management system; analysis and reporting comes via Web browser. Platform services and specialties for financial services now extend to high-volume retail and CPG transactions
What: Open source SaaS BI and reporting
Why: Among the first enterprise software vendors strategically committed to open source; offers value add premium BI, performance management and server products; co-leads the BIRT (business intelligence and reporting tools) project, a development environment for visualization across formats and devices, and opens a huge Eclipse community of resources to BIRT users
What: SaaS-based planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting
Why: Excel may never be stamped out, but midsized and larger companies now have a cloudy option for the grunt work we all face. Broad functionality, hundreds of customers, documented customer satisfaction and no back rooms of hardware and bored IT staff makes this a compelling offer
What: Open source enterprise content management
Why: Solid traction and surprising penetration of open source in large institutions; a new and timely pitch for management and compliance for "social" shared content in documents or collaborative platforms like Salesforce Chatter or Drupal
What: BI with geospatial analysis, data quality, ETL
Why: Demand for fast data processing for searching, sorting, and retrieval of record-level data along with spatial data analytics and reporting; one-platform ETL, data quality, profiling, analytics and visuals, notable for importing geocoding and grid mapping
What: Technology, consulting services for Oracle's Siebel CRM
Why: Managing the customer experience has to be comprehensive over all channels, with intuitive user interfaces and process-oriented order management; it's a Web framework and hosted SaaS front end across portals, e-commerce and order management for an obvious installed base
What: Massively parallel hybrid row and column database, analytics and services
Why: Just say "big data" and "analytics" and you've attracted attention; the performance, flexible formats and economics of scalability carry buzz for software, appliance or cloud deployments
What: Enterprise search
Why: Information access evolves with a universal index to provide access to unified, integrated content and information regardless of native format; Active Dashboard for real-time role-based updates and analytics for text, email, SharePoint, etc. as well as databases; can also be embedded in products or applications
What: Cloud-based end-to-end BI, apps for performance management
Why: Analysts are picking up on ease of use and customer satisfaction; analytics, dashboards and reports that can be embedded in Salesforce or other service-based platforms look like must haves
What: Automated Web data monitoring, collection
Why: Challenges of unstructured data abound, but collection, analysis and distributions of this content is more in demand than ever; prices, news, data and any amount of competitive info on the Web is all fair game
What: Data visualization
Why: Dashboards, charting, mapping and mobile in smart presentations; customers list includes thousands of big companies; a new patent for a technology to automatically optimize images and graphics in Web browsers and mobile devices increases the base and potential attraction of interactive visualizations
What: SaaS-based project management and collaboration for portfolios in IT, PMO, professional service and R&D
Why: Configurable apps that are easier to adopt for portfolio/project/resource/T&E and document management; BI tools for portfolio reporting and support services; well-regarded as a prime platform for herding cats