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Intelligent Enterprise 2009 Editors' Choice Awards

Intelligent Enterprise names 'The Dozen' most influential vendors in enterprise IT for 2009. Plus, we highlight 36 'Companies to Watch' in five categories.

2009 Intelligent Enterprise Editor's choice: The Dozen

THE INTELLIGENT ENTERPRISE DOZEN

ADOBE. When it comes to rich Internet applications (RIA), Adobe has a formidable line-up: world-class graphical content creation tools (Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash Professional), the ubiquitous Flash Player for running client RIA programs, and the somewhat lesser-known Flex and Adobe (AIR) for application developers. Adobe's enterprise software products aren't as well known, but the LiveCycle Enterprise Suite is a leading business process management suite that gained content management capabilities in 2008. The workgroup collaboration story tucked away in Bridge and Version Cue will also bear fruit beyond the graphics context. Before the dust settles, we'll see Adobe pull pieces together and become a heavier hitter in enterprise software.

AMAZON. Amazon is writing (and then selling) the book on "infrastructure as a service" with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon SimpleDB, among other services. With its experience in scaling online retailing, Amazon understands the inherent challenges in scaling enterprise systems. What's more, it has the brains and the bucks to address the business continuity and security concerns facing cloud computing. While other vendors talk and make announcements, Amazon is making cloud computing a reality.

IBM. BI, business process management, content management, event processing, relational database, in-memory database, information integration, mashup technologies, master data management, enterprise search – you name it, and IBM undoubtedly has it in the most comprehensive information management portfolio in the business. The company also has the vision to bring all the pieces together. Cognos was a particularly nice, overlap-free fit for the company, and in 2008 IBM added Business Viewpoint for flexible dimension management in BI, OLAP, analytic and master data management activities. IBM has stayed maniacally focused on helping companies to build a "trusted information layer." What's more, it adds technologies whenever they emerge as important differentiators.

MICROSOFT. There seemed to be lots of distractions up on the bridge in 2008 (Vista, Yahoo! and so on). But like a super tanker in motion, Microsoft has momentum that carries it forward in important areas of the enterprise. SQL Server, SharePoint and Performance Point, to name a few products, are still winning market share. Loyal developers and Microsoft shops have held steady even as executives ponder the next course. If Microsoft follows its usual pattern, it will deliver a fresh wave of products in the coming year, and the company will make additional inroads into the enterprise. In the BI arena, look for beta in-memory technology and glimpses of scale-out database technology by year end.

MICROSTRATEGY. Much to its credit, BI vendor MicroStrategy has resisted the temptation to be a "me-too" on analytics and performance management. Instead this independent has focused on delivering world-class BI with state-of-the-art dynamic dashboards. The MicroStrategy 9 release set for Q1 2009 adds in-memory analysis to speed queries and reduce data-prep dependency on IT. And a new multi-source engine opens up data access while supporting flexible modeling as BI spreads from workgroup to enterprisewide deployments. In short, MicroStrategy will set new standards in the BI market in 2009.

NETEZZA. Now that Oracle has introduced its HP Oracle Database Machine and Microsoft has committed to a scale-out compatible version of SQL Server by 2010, it's not a good time to be a startup data warehouse appliance vendor. But Netezza is no longer a startup; nor is it resting on past accomplishments. With its triple-digit and still-growing customer base, Netezza is plowing money back into R&D and developing a compelling story around in-database processing with help partners in the Netezza Developer Network. The vendor's on-stream programmability enabled one customer with whom we spoke to cut three- to four-week data mart build times down to four to eight hours. That's the kind of dramatic difference that will keep Netezza on the data warehousing short list.

ORACLE. Solid from a financial perspective and still at the center of the database universe, Oracle has also made a lot of good moves. For one it has responded forcefully (with partner HP) to the data warehouse scalability challenge with a new line of appliances. BI initiatives are paying off, too: With control over the database and applications in many accounts, lots of customers are buying the performance management and analytic applications that rely on Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition. Oracle has also beefed up the Oracle Universal Content Management line, and its Oracle Secure Enterprise Search product is poised to shake things up in the enterprise-search market. If there's any chink in the armor it's Oracle Fusion Applications, which are late. But better to get it right late than to stumble when the market has little appetite for upgrades.

SALESFORCE.COM. Clearly the standard setter in the world of software as a service (SaaS), Salesforce.com continues to refine its core offering, providing points of integration to sync information back into the enterprise and a user interface that non-technical types love. The company also has innovated with its Force.com "platform as a service," making it simpler for customers and partners to deliver all kinds of enterprise apps. In short, Salesforce.com will continue to define how SaaS and the larger cloud computing market evolve.

SAP. This vendor now has the market-leading position in both enterprise applications and business intelligence. SAP customers are loyal, and more than 500 are said to have replaced incumbent BI vendors with SAP Business Objects. Performance management and process management are high-priority strategic thrusts for SAP, and customer demand for better cash management and process efficiency will help the company weather a down economy. The potential for SAP's emerging NetWeaver Business Process Management story is not well recognized, but promised integrations with SAP ERP are likely to make it the only logical choice for existing customers looking to optimize business processes.

SAS. The quiet giant of business intelligence, SAS continues to lead with its segment-dominating analytics tools and myriad prebuilt applications. Last year, SAS made the sensible decision to spin off data integration talent and initiatives to its DataFlux subsidiary, which is now better positioned to innovate in the areas of data quality, data integration and master data management while SAS concentrates on BI and analytics. In the latter area, SAS has partnered with Teradata to push complex analytic processing into the database for greater scalability and faster results. It's that kind of innovation that will keep SAS at the head of the pack.

TIBCO. This company serves a vital role in that it offers strong alternatives in lots of categories that would otherwise be dominated (and no doubt monopolized) by the giants. TIBCO offers the unique-among-independents combination of business activity monitoring, SOA/integration infrastructure, business process management, event processing, master data management and other technologies. The latest addition (through acquisition) is BI visualization via Spotfire, which remains a leader in real-time analytics. In a vendor landscape that has drastically consolidated, TIBCO remains a rare, strong independent survivor.

TERADATA. This stalwart remains the leader in large-scale data warehousing, but it has shown new flexibility and aggressiveness in a changing market. Teradata has kept its enterprise data warehousing (EDW) ideology in check as it has introduced a gradation of platforms from appliance to data mart to EDW. It has also improved the core database and partnered with independents such as SAS, MicroStrategy and Informatica while remaining close to its loyal, innovative customers. It's a focused company that has only benefitted from intensified competition.

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