As always, our editors take notes throughout the year and we ring up our most trusted analysts and contributors, a dozen in all, to help us shape the pack. This year’s list started with well over 100 nominees, including some companies that have made the list in past years (marked with an asterisk below), so we looked for common threads and made the interviews more rigorous where we could.
Two words jumped out this year and of course, those words had to be “big” and “data.” The groundswell of products, services and even more marketing and pitches around big data themes surfaced dozens of interesting companies and topics. Some of these we quickly weeded out as “us too” stories but many of these open source companies are plainly on a roll with products and roadmaps and customers, especially in the Hadoop community. We simply can’t get to them all in the confines of our list.
And, because many of these companies are relatively young, we had no choice but to choose from a mix that spanned first round venture capital to companies that already have heft in the market. We admit it’s not always an even playing field. Can you be a hot up and comer even if your old owner and current backer happens to be named YAHOO!? For this year and this list, the answer is yes.
After big data, the second biggest theme we heard is that business intelligence is back, most certainly aided by analytic apps and themes that include enterprise mobility, cloud computing social media, and yes, big data. We weren’t sure we’d hear so many plugs for BI and dashboard type reporting and performance management, but we’re not surprised given the effect that consumer behavior and the mobile app has had on terms like self-service and ease of use.
That also kept some of the visual exploration and analytic tool growth stories on our list as they penetrate the lunch bucket spreadsheet community of managers and lines of business. (That is not to say that Microsoft, way too big for this gathering, isn’t having a pretty boffo year with PowerView in SQL Server 2012.)
Our advisers held steady with a case for data virtualization and backed a range other pure play nominations with variations on traditional technologies like SQL. Finally, governance and data warehouse automation specialists, the kind of pointed expertise you’d seek (not for a thrill ride but to build and maintain the house you live in), were also pared down to a few finalists from several noteworthy nominations.
In every category, some choices were easier than others and we had to get this list to 40. It should not be considered that anything but our arbitrary cutoff point meant that many deserving vendors didn’t quite get on this year’s list. In a year where IT spending is down and economic uncertainty continues, we can thank the intellectual property in these startups for maintaining and growing information technology from the ground up into a new and exciting cycle of utility, performance and (fingers crossed) business execution.
Along with our full list below you can also view the vendors by category:
- View all the Analytics/Visualization vendors in our list here.
- View all the BI vendors in our list here.
- View all the Big Data vendors in our list here.
- View all the Database vendors in our list here.
- View all the Integration/Governance vendors in our list here.
Our 2012 List of 40 Vendors
What: Cloud-based data warehouse and analytic reporting/services
Why: A Web-based spreadsheet running on many servers with hundreds of billions of rows may sound like a nightmare, but 1010data has customers are doing it. Not Hadoop, not open source nodes, it’s cloud-based analysis and reporting combining self-service sharing and collaboration in a visual interactive Web interface with ad hoc query capabilities.
Where: New York, NY
Of Note: Customers include NYSE, Sonic, Dollar General. Born in the 1990s financial arena, 1010data has expanced to retail/CPG and currently claims more than 5 trillion records and thousands of tables in its data cloud. Among the smaller competitors in warehouse database management, Gartner calls them a challenger.
What: Rules driven apps on analytical database
Why: Actian is banking on mainstream demand bleeding into the business with a new strategy where users build “Action Apps,” consumer style interfaces that trigger business rules to automate productivity. Pick an activity, set a threshold and trigger an action. Uses record-breaking Vectorwise SQL database to make it happen.
Where: Redwood City, CA
Of Note: Actian is Ingres reborn with suddenly bigger plans (and a takeover bid for last year’s “40 Vendors” nominee Pervasive Software. Partners embed Actian to unlock and act on Web activity. Clients include University of Oxford, Sheetz, Adeo.
What: Data analysis on open source hosted cloud
Why: Desktop to cloud strategic workflow and analytics is their business, but it’s geographic enabled intelligence that makes them spatial. Location, POS mail list to micro marketing with point-and-click interface ease of use, self-service data extraction, cleansing and automated reporting. Some are calling it “big data integration for dummies.”
Where: Irvine, CA
Of Note: The U.S. government utilized Alteryx to create the 2010 U.S. census data sets. Clients include DQ, AT&T and Chipotle.