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There are so many opportunities in information management right now that we're seeing a market of more startups and business models than ever before. That led to our decision to pick 40 to watch, but it's not a bad thing to say there are many more interesting stories than we can document here.

Our choices are based mostly on buzz from customers and analysts, and just like you, we find some sources more trustworthy and even-handed than others. Where their ideas mirrored our findings, we were that much more comfortable.

It was much easier to populate this list than it was to decide what to leave off it. Some hot categories can't be fairly looked at without standalone coverage. How do we address data appliances and the performance gains in Greenplum (soon to be the property of EMC) without mentioning developments at Netezza, ParAccel, Kickfire, Dataupia, etc.? With a couple of exceptions, we also stayed away from high-performance database software vendors we know are growing rapidly but are better judged by readers on the merits of their unique approaches and use cases. In open source, we touched on a few outfits for tackling collaboration, ECM and MDM, but we know there's real BI traction growing for Actuate, Jaspersoft and Pentaho.

We noticed emerging areas of commodity services for software and infrastructure management or virtualization or social CRM. Others are adding new dimensions of visualization or tying external events to forecasting and visualization. We'll buy part of this as expected maturing and concede that other areas still need to prove worthy as categories of products or services.

In one sense, the 40 We're Watching are companies too hot to be acquired - yet. But we also lost likely nominees that brought the right price from enterprise vendors. One of these was Cast Iron Systems, bought by IBM. Jigsaw was another, bought by Salesforce.com, which itself is tricky to track as an entity and a network all at once.

So enjoy our list while knowing it's not exhaustive or complete. The order is random and not categorized. For what it's worth, two vendors give the nation of Denmark a disproportionate 5 percent of the total. With tidbits like that, we prefer to call the 40 a conversation starter based on our own discussions and observations. We know you'll be adding your opinions to our list for next year. In the meantime, share your opinions in our discussion thread at info-mgmt.com/40WeAreWatching.

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