Forty Vendors We’re Watching: 2012

Register now

For a third year we bring you our list of up and coming vendors on our radar that are doing their part to shape the groundswell in information management technology in the 21st Century.

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

[*=Repeat winner]

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.

What: Social and customer analytics for marketing, sentiment, product launches
Why: They say marketing gets the bucks for technology these days, and here’s one place they are spending it. Out-of-the-box social solution is a sandbox with power tools for brands to listen, analyze, relate and act on customer conversations on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. With natural language processing and text analytics, companies can burrow into the mounds of unstructured data that is social media.
Where: Palo Alto, CA
Of Note: Customers include Airbus, Charles Schwab, Citigroup, HP, JetBlue, Lloyds Banking Group, Safeway, Siemens, StubHub, TiVo, Travelocity, Unilever, Walgreens, Wells Fargo and Whirlpool. Government organization users have included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Attensity helped JetBlue utilize all their customer feedback data.

What: Data replication, change data capture, access and federation
Why: “Real time data warehousing” Web enabled for high information availability and data integration to transfer, connect and join data resources anywhere. The big four software companies resell them and 1,000 partners OEM and integrate them.
Where: Burlington, MA and Bracknell UK
Of Note: New (beta) CloudBeam product makes it easier to load and move data to and between cloud environments. Customers include Deutsche Bank, HSBC, New York Life, Raymond James.

What: Cloud-based BI
Why: A first mover in a logical service category, this outfit went a step farther by integrating dashboards, enterprise reporting, data warehousing, ETL and ad hoc queries into one suite. Going mobile? Birst brings dashboards and analytics to the iPad in an interactive app. Besides its original (SaaS) deployment model there is now a software virtual appliance for those who want to take it home.
Where: San Francisco, CA
Of Note: This year, Birst was included on JMP Security’s list of Hot 100 Software Companies, and took a 2012 Cloud Award for Data Innovation of the Year. Twenty-six million in series D financing this year.

Check out all the BI vendors from our 40 list here.

Cambridge Semantics
What: Unified information access
Why: Another upstart real-time integration player launched by brainiacs, Cambridge Semantics’ Anzo open platform integrates BI, compliance information management, IT asset management and ESB model management.
Where:  Boston, MA
Of Note: Users include Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Staples and U.S. Air Force. Cambridge Semantics' new Competitive Intelligence Solution has been named Best in Show at the 2012 BioIT World Conference.

What: Sentiment Analysis via natural language processing text analytics
Why: Like an industrial ore digger, Clarabridge churns text and customer experience into a uniform view.  Natural language extracts and translates anything from social media (Facebook, Twitter, product review sites) to call center notes, email, chats and surveys. Clarabridge has climbed the ranks as standard working gear at by top brands across multiple industries.
Where: Reston, VA and London
Of Note: Nissan, Best Buy, Marriott, H&R Block, Dell, Wendy’s and, most recently L’Oreal are all customers.

What: Managed cloud database
Why: NoSQL that’s distributed, replicated, “managed by experts,” REST API full-text search and analytics on globally scalable ApacheCouchDB. Besides migrating your marketing analytics database to these MIT guys, they sound like the type you’d trust to feed your dog while you’re away.
Where: Boston, MA
Of Note: Answers the question, “so, where do you go from here?” for three MIT physicists who held a stint managing data at the Large Hadron Collider. Scale is what they live for. NoSQL data layer for Windows Azure and a gig hosting online game player data.

What: Data storage and processing services on Apache Hadoop
Why: For big data users that are ready for enterprise-level security, integration and infrastructure and a variety of subscription-based services. Backers have made it rain in this cloud for the last three years.
Where: Palo Alto, CA
Of Note: Founder and CEO Mike Olson is among the most visible and outspoken visionaries and advocates of Hadoop. Cloudera’s platform was part of the big data appliance Oracle launch this year, and has been seen hanging out with Pentaho, HP and IBM. Has its own certification “university” for Hadoop training. Customers include eBay, Groupon, Morgan Stanley, Nokia and Qualcomm.

What: Web-based collaborative governance tools
Why: “A rock solid theoretical foundation, very community and business oriented,” a trusted advisor tells us, unlike metadata tools that get too wrapped around IT concepts. Made to allow business and technical people define their business concepts, facts and rules, in collaboration with roles, workflow, and validation. We’d call that buttoned down.
Where: Brussels, Belgium
Of Note: A spinoff of something called STARLab at University of Brussels, one of the first places to do database research that’s now onto advanced semantics and ontology.

Composite Software
What: Data virtualization, federation
Why: Stalwart and standup, one of a few innovators to carve a future out of data virtualization and federation. Integrating disparate data sources is the specialty; what you get are virtual data marts, virtual operational data stores and data abstraction layers.
Where: San Mateo, CA
Of Note: Customers include Pfizer, Wachovia, NYSE Euronext, U.S. Army, the U.S. EPA, Comcast, Croc, Lowes, Merck, BMC, HP, Dell, AT&T and Time Warner.

What: NoSQL Cassandra Hadoop
Why: Okay, we’re sensing a theme. DataStax brings an array of open source products to Cassandra, a scalable NoSQL database for real-time big data workloads across multiple nodes. With a workhorse of a download platform (you pay for support and consulting), our source tells us DataStax will become a household name in BI. (Is there such a thing as a household name in BI?)
Where: San Mateo, CA
Of Note: Customers include lots of service providers including eBay, GoDaddy, LivePerson, and Netflix uses Apache Cassandra to minimize downtime and outages.

What: Data virtualization, federation
Why: Name recognition is not a problem for Denodo, which has plied the virtual integration space for a long time now and with regular appearances on the Forrester Wave and other product reviews. If you hate ETL and like the sound of information as a service you’ll be looking this over sooner or later.
Where: Palo Alto, CA
Of Note: BBVA, Biogen Idec, Telefonica and Vodafone all use it.

Check out all the Integration/Governance vendors from our 40 list here.

What: Cloud-based mashup reporting analytics
Why: Thousands of customers and positive testimonials speaks volumes about a value proposition. With a single platform that combines operational dashboards, metrics and performance reports, data storage, analytics and collaboration tools, this solution give even the most tech-illiterate access to quality BI.
Where: San Francisco, CA
Of Note: Interesting new “Bashes” release gives users views and clues into monetizing big data. GoodData socked away another $25 million in a third round of funding, bringing the total investment up to $53.5 million. Customers include Groupon, AOL, Time Warner Cable, Mint, Living Social and TriNet.

What: In-memory Java middleware for big data
Why: In-Memory = real time. This high performance Java middleware can start with less than 10 lines of code (they print the world’s shortest MapReduce app on the back of their business cards) to build enterprise e-commerce platforms, hyperlocal advertising, global gaming platforms and more.
Where: Foster City, CA
Of Note: GridGain carries clout, counting some of the largest companies in the world as customers, such as Apple, Canon and Sony.

What: Big data analytics
Why: Combining relational database technology with Hadoop into a single system, Hadapt produces cloud-based big data analytics. Data stored in Hadapt can be accessed using existing SQL-based tools and SQL queries can be performed significantly faster than using Hadoop+Hive.
Where: Cambridge, MA
Of Note: Hadapt made Gartner’s 2012 Cool Vendors in Information Infrastructure and Big Data. MassTLC named Hadapt one of the Innovative Technology of the Year for Big Data.

What: Enterprise big data platform on open source Apache Hadoop
Why: Big in the big data space right off the bat, Hortonworks with engineers and financing from Yahoo!, you could say these folks wrote the book on enterprise use of Hadoop because they did, a lot of it anyway. With a year under their belt, Hortonworks gets high marks from analysts on cluster monitoring and metadata sharing across systems. 
Where: Sunnyvale, CA
Of Note: In a tight big data market that often confuses the C-suite set, Hortonworks turned some heads at Hadoop World and Strata conferences in the past year; high-profile rollouts and Yahoo! connections no doubt aided from big data relationships with Teradata, Microsoft and others. Like other providers in the competitive democracy that is Hadoop, Hortonworks has its own certification courses and a legion of developers in its virtual sandbox.   

What: Real-time operational intelligence
Why: Don’t we all want to take advantage of a tighter “decision window”? Dashboards connecting to live data sources, KPIs, metrics and actionable intelligence are modern tools for the working manager. A point and connect tool, collaboration, anywhere access and the bold name “Presto.”
Where: Chevy Chase, MD
Of Note: Enterprise and government customers include Qualcomm, Diebold, GE, Banamex, Elsevier, Random House, NASA, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army.

What: Data governance and master data management
Why: With longstanding emphasis on model-driven data quality, Kalido has tapped into a “No ETL” vibe of late for its product stack. The latest Data Governance Director software pushes enterprise data automation and extensive data policy monitoring for BPM officers, and its new Information Engine features out-of-the-box metadata migration.
Where: Burlington, MA
Of Note: Started in the late ‘90s as an offshoot from the IT department at Shell Oil. Works closely with Teradata in sales partnerships. High in customer satisfaction from a recent survey by analyst firm, The Information Difference, Kalido’s customers include Owens Corning, Labatt Breweries, Independent Health and BP.

What: Web-based data visualization and BI tools tailored for business size and industry
Why: Something old, something new, mostly all useful with modular architecture and boilerplate connectors that keep sources of reports and dashboards in one funnel with side benefits their customers have told us about directly. A diverse set of visualization tools, consistent quarters of double-digit revenue growth.
Where: McLean, VA
Of Note: LogiXML scored a number of users in the university library circuit earlier in the year, and broadened its partner horizons in the U.S. and Europe throughout 2012. Its BI visualization tools are at use by more than 1,000 organizations, including ADP, NASA, Sony and GE Healthcare.

What: Enterprise-scale Apache Hadoop distribution
Why: Claims “no single point of failure” or downtime and full data protection. No shortage of community coding language contributions from MapR, and it’s winning commercial converts of late on those SLAs. It’s early to name any knock-out winners in enterprise Hadoop, but clearly stated use cases across multiple industries and a mantra of reliability can’t hurt their case.
Where: San Jose, CA
Of Note: Two editions, turnkey solutions for private and multitenant, can run on AWS and Google Compute Engine; 451 Group called them the “clear choice” for Hadoop.

What: BI analysis, reporting, monitoring
Why: We’ve known these guys forever, so what gives? From free edition giveaways to cloud to “social intelligence” alerting and customer segmentation to “the Internet’s Third Act” (mobility), no one has done a better job of grabbing the next wave and understanding how to communicate it from the customer point of view. Their customers have told us so.   
Where: Tyson’s Corner, VA
Of Note: Users include Lowes, Herbalife, Novation,, Guess?, Telefonica and the U.S. Postal Service and Amerisource Bergen. Top rated mobility platform in a Howard Dresner survey.

What: Desktop or server self-service BI and search
Why: People have talked about data discovery with Internet-like free form text search against structured data; this one automates text queries by identifying keyword strings and using algorithms to match relevance, nearness and occurrence to the data set(s). Use the data mapping tool, skip the app for a text window, load and go with carousel displays of search results and overlays.
Where: Birmingham, England
Of Note: Next up: advanced visualization, cloud and mobile versions. Gartner calls them a cool vendor in 2012.

What: “New”SQL cloud relational database management system
Why: A “new approach with a familiar interface,” Nuo keeps the SQL and ACID transactions, but layers it on a distributed database. An elastic rethink of relational based on a cloud of distributed computers rather than a single system. General availability comes later this year, putting it at the confluence of big data and cloud interest.
Where: Cambridge, MA
Of Note: More than 1,000 developers poked around the beta version of the DB offering; CEO and Founder Barry Morris has a pedigree of success in past storage system ventures, leading StreamBase and Ireland’s IONA Technologies.

Check out all the Database vendors from our 40 list here.

Orchestra Networks
What: Multidomain MDM and data governance
Why: As other vendors struggle with integrated governance and reference data management as a native MDM capability, Orchestra has forged unified capabilities for underlying enterprise data. The latest MDM offering homes in on the business side and the power user with timeline, integration and shared workspaces. Even as other areas of BI get more attention, here is some evidence that good governance isn’t out of vogue.
Where: Boston, MA and Paris, France
Of Note: Orchestra has expanded reference and master data in the cloud via Outside analyst rankings are consistently favorable in the MDM space. Enterprise users include BNP Paribas, Michelin and U.K. supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s.

What: High performance analytic database platform
Why: Buyouts and big vendor entries abound in analytics, but ParAccel marches to its own successful beat of performance, extensibility, on demand integration, MPP, cloud and in-memory configurations. With no obvious need for a suitor, ParAccel upped its brand and analytic identity with enhancements through the year, including services and extensions to complement and support competing releases from Teradata and Oracle.
Where: Campbell, CA
Of Note: Tailored an offering for the Apache Hadoop framework and held up the back-end of a BI solution in conjunction with Birst. Q1 2012 was the largest period of revenue and funding growth ever at the vendor. Took its Analytic Platform into the cloud. Customers include CARFAX, Moody’s and Home Depot.

What: Business discovery and visualization software
Why: You’ll win a lot of friends quickly with tools that one analyst calls “instant gratification” of the type that don’t come from data models or data warehouses. New enhancements for mobile access, data lineage and metadata automated discovery.
Where: Radnor, PA
Of Note: We don’t usually include acquisitive companies on this list but Qlik just acquired Expressor to batten down metadata and governance. Like most overnight sensations they are 20 years in the making with 26,000 diverse customers (diverse, as in from Subaru to the American Kennel Club).

What: Ad hoc marketing analytics SaaS on AWS
Why: Because marketing analytics has nowhere to go but up. Proprietary pattern-store technology to locate affinities across data stores, query engine, and elastic cloud architecture.  “We exist to make analytics fun again,” they say. Was it ever not the case?
Where: Emeryville, CA
Of Note: Customers include Kohler, RAPP, Party City, ASOS, Manheim Auto Auctions, Pilot Flying J, Simplicity Creative Group and Orange.

What: SaaS predictive analytics layer for BI
Why: Self-service and agile BI need to be in your sales brochure and these days they’d better work. Our source says that is the case here with broadly accessible visual data mining and predictive analysis that’s fast, user friendly and comprehensive. (Suggestion: How about a “no cubes” t-shirt logo?) 
Where: Miami, FL and Barcelona, Spain
Of Note: Customers include Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank, Station Casinos (that sounds like a heck of a weekend) and many more across insurance, retail, health care, etc. They are also popular with government institutions and police forces.

What: Mobile real-time analytics and presentation
Why: Me, me, me! Everyone in the C-suite wants business insight in the palm of their hands, giving Roambi and parent company MeLLmo an open-door proposition. Ranks high with analysts and has analytic apps reaching into Excel with authentication to allow IT security officers to sleep more soundly.
Where: San Diego, CA
Of Note: Accolades include Ventana Research’s leadership honors. Management includes visualization and BI alums who left companies scooped up by Business Objects and Oracle.  Partnered offerings include Hitachi and

What: BI software with data warehouse integration
Why: New users like a fast learning curve into dashboards at the front and in-memory performance behind. Prism development platform employs customized controls and widgets more than coding. Outputs are reports that are clean and straightforward.
Where: Redwood Shores, CA
Of Note: Sales tripled in 2011 over the previous year, and the product line now includes a help desk system and support for Microsoft SQL Azure. Leadership now includes Bruno Aziza, former BI director at Microsoft. Maersk, Caterpillar and Target are customers.

What: Machine learning for big data analytics
Why: Machine learning is one clear path to big data processing. Use cases for clustering/segmentation, outliers, predictive analytics, similarity search. Automation and low entry point make it a low-risk bet.
Where: San Jose, CA
Of Note: More than four decades of scalable machine learning experience at environments including the Large Hadron Collider, NASA and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Advisory Board includes Pat Hanrahan (Stanford and co-founder of Pixar & Tableau) and Michael Jordan (UC Berkeley’s top machine learning expert).
Note: This entry was corrected 10/9 and eliminated references to natural language processing, which Skytree presently does not offer.

Check out all the Big Data vendors from our 40 list here.

What: IT and machine analytics
Why: Because machine data is churning and we’re still figuring out what we need and what to do with it. Splunk’s ROI comes from reducing IT downtime, cutting legacy cost, supporting revenue-generating IT, reducing fraud, enforcing SLAs with business and compliance risk insights.
Where: San Francisco, CA
Of Note: Management team built from potential machine life forms recruited at Disney, Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, Autodesk, Infoseek, Informix and SAP. Seriously though, a shelf full of awards and a Best Place to Work in the Bay Area award from the San Francisco Business Times and San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal.

What: Data visualization/search analytics
Why: Tableau built a fan club with easy-to-access dashboards. As more business users get into their data, drag-and-drop reports and charts grow an Excel-like penetration with adherents where visualizations flow into SharePoint or other collaborative platforms.
Where: Seattle, WA
Of Note: Seventh-generation data server software with wider visual toolbox elements and analytic parameters. Won “New Technology of the Year” by the not-for-profit Digital Analytics Association (journalists and nonprofits love Tableau Public). Registered more than 9,000 customers, including Allstate, The New York Times and the Department of Homeland Security.

What: Open source data integration, MDM
Why: Middleware solutions that enable organizations to gain more value from their applications, systems and databases. Shattering the proprietary model, Talend was first in new domains with enterprise-grade open source technologies that cover data integration and application integration needs of organizations of all sizes.
Where: Palo Alto, CA and France
Of Note: Talend went from dogged upstart to “Visionary” in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Quality and “Leader” in the 2012 Forrester Wave for Enterprise ETL. Customer base distinctly global compared to two years ago: Porsche, Financial Times, Citi, Virgin Mobile, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Logica, UPS, Xerox, Toyota Financial Services, etc.

What: Geographically distributed SQL database
Why: Uptime all the time, everywhere. “Nodes around the world” make up the TransLattice Application Platform or TAP. “They took distributed computing concepts and they put a database on top if it as opposed to taking a database and trying to figure out how to distribute it,” our source remarks, with instant backup, streamed, synched and replicated.
Where: Santa Clara, CA
Of Note: Awards a go go. Finalist in the Golden Bridge Awards for Most Innovative Company.  Technology Industry's 2012 World's Best Award for Data Center, one of the Most Innovative Startups by Dow Jones' VentureWire, Frank Huerta Named as of of the Top 19 Third-party Execs To Keep an Eye On. 25 New IT Companies to Watch (CIO). 25 hot products from new IT companies (Network World). Under the Rader as one of 16 Hot Startup Companies in 2011. Not under the radar anymore.

What: Scale out ACID in-memory DB
Why: A “NewSQL” database to combine the proven power of relational processing with speed, linear scalability and full fault tolerance. Open source, multicluster, in-memory, nothing shared. For performance applications such as capital markets, financial trade, telco and sensor-based networks.
Where: Billerica, MA
Of Note: Designed by DBMS pioneer Mike Stonebraker for organizations and partners that have reached the price/performance limitations of general purpose SQL databases. Customers and partners include Actuate, Booyah, Bursa Malaysia, Cloudera, GETCO, Hortonworks, JasperLabs, Jaspersoft, Shopzilla, Yahoo!

What: Data warehouse development and management tools
Why: Modeling is at the core of your data warehouse, so do it right and leave room to iterate. Tool automation generates code, generates, documents and updates tables with version control and all your other agile/scrum needs.
Where: Auckland, New Zealand
Of Note: "3D" product handles data warehouse planning; "Red" is the working environment for building and deployment. Customers include Man Group PLC, Vodafone, FirstData, ipc/Subway, HunterDouglas, United Rentals, Bridgestone, Coinstar.

Check out all the Analytics/Visualization vendors from our 40 list here.

What: Collaborative BI tools and platform
Why: Elevating BI usefulness while keeping it simple is where the industry is going, and Yellowfin is gathering a reputation for both with interactive dashboards, easy to navigate interfaces and no coding.
Where: Melbourne, Australia
Of Note: Claims more than a million end users, 10s of thousands of clients in 50 countries. Top ranking among emerging vendors in Howard Dresner's Global BI Vendor Study - Wisdom of Crowds, award winning location intelligence. Lots of awards and recognitions.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.