16) Dell. A long-time marvel at execution, Dell's become the core for today's new-age data centers stuffed with thousands upon thousands of Dell servers that power some of the world's most high-volume and high-velocity websites. For that, Dell deserves a great deal of credit, as it does for its rejuvenated enterprise business and its acquisition last year of ACS to move into services. But at a time when integrated and optimized systems are looking like the high-performance engines of the future, Dell remains a follower rather than a leader—a fast follower, to be sure, but no longer the cutting-edge innovator it once was when its name was turned into a verb—you got delled!—to describe how its ability to execute overwhelmed many competitors.
17) NetApp. Riding its high-growth traditional business while also becoming one of the core enablers of private clouds, NetApp has racked up some dazzling quarters lately as it's continued to find ways to turn its advanced storage technologies into business advantage by creating systems that simply do more and cost less.
18) RIM. The company whose BlackBerry smartphones used to reign over the enterprise still has a massive chunk of the market and is churning out impressive new products faster than ever before, but will need to find another gear if it hopes to keep up with the iPhone and Android. Its mass has kept its influence strong, but RIM is sitting on the knife-edge—not a comfortable place even in the very best of circumstances—and either it finds a way to recapture the imagination of business consumers or it won't be long before people start asking, "Geez, RIM—whatever happened to them?"
19) Teradata. The data-warehouse kingpin has spent the last couple of years branching into the midrange with a new set of its own products as well as new partnerships with companies like Kalido that expand its addressable market and chip away at the notion that Teradata can only play at the very top of the high-performance, high-price market. This pioneer in optimized systems is seeing lots of competitors adopt its model—can it keep a step or three ahead of the game?
20) CA Technologies. Continuing to specialize in many of the less-glamorous but no less-essential portions of the market, CA Technologies remains a force due to its product breadth, the quality of its technology, and its deep entanglements in data centers where it's earned a position of trust over the past couple of decades. Its early and aggressive move into cloud technologies offers the potential to keep it among the most-influential IT vendors for some time to come.
All right, folks—that's it for the 20 most-influential IT vendors in the world. As always, your feedback is priceless so please keep it coming (and for those of you suggesting I seek a new career, would you mind tossing in a few ideas for what else you think I might be able to do?).
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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