Intelligent Enterprise Editors' Choice Awards 2010 - InformationWeek
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Intelligent Enterprise Editors' Choice Awards 2010

Intelligent Enterprise names 'The Dozen' most influential vendors for the intelligent enterprise and 36 'Companies to Watch' in 2010.


AMAZON continues to innovate and set the standards for cloud computing with its Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure as a service. Amazon Relational Database and Elastic MapReduce were just two of the important new services added in 2009. The AWS portfolio makes Amazon the partner of choice for enterprise-focused cloud services seeking legitimacy as well as low-cost, easy-to-deploy and easy-to-administer service options.

APACHE exemplifies how far open source has come after its decade of leadership. The Apache Web/applications platform has long powered the Web and it has made inroads beyond the LAMP stack. The Lucene search-engine library, for example, is widely embedded in commercial applications. Destined to flourish in 2010 and beyond is Apache Hadoop, which offers multiple utilities for data-intensive processing, including a leading MapReduce framework that powers data transformation and analytic processing. Apache has been in the enterprise all along, but it's fast becoming a very significant player in information management.

GOOGLE maps the mashable world and API-invoked Google Charts are showcased on high-profile sites like On the cloud front, as of late last year, 30,000 employees of the city of Los Angeles started using Google Apps for their daily computing tasks. Although some raise privacy concerns, the city expects to free up 100 e-mail servers and save $750,000 just on electricity over five years. With deals like these, there's no doubt Google's platform as a service will be a disruptive force for enterprises large and small. The Google App Engine has been around for just a short time, yet it's setting standards for application development, deployment and testing on a scalable, cloud computing platform.

IBM launched a Smarter Planet initiative that kept eyes on the real prize amid the economic gloom of 2009. That big-picture message targeted business types. But the company also followed through with a large-scale Business Analytics and Optimization push aimed at the people actually tasked with creating more intelligent enterprises. Taking it a level deeper, IBM backed up its analytics bravado with the $1.2 billion purchase of SPSS, filling one of the few gaps it had in its information management and analysis technology portfolio. In addition, IBM has spearheaded the move beyond appliances with the IBM Smart Analytic System, the first offering to integrate data integration, business intelligence and even industry-specific solutions into a single optimized stack. In short, IBM is providing important thought leadership, and it's synthesizing the worlds of analytics, business intelligence and day-to-day decision-making.

INFORMATICA delivered strong growth in an otherwise weak market through a combination of focused execution and disciplined moves into adjacent markets. Acquisitions in 2009 brought the company into application data lifecycle management, postal data quality and complex event processing. The company also extended three years of work on cloud-oriented integration approaches with the Cloud 9 platform, a multi-tenant environment for building, sharing and running data integration services and data quality mappings. Informatica kicked off 2010 with a major new release, Informatica 9, and the acquisition of master data management vendor Siperian. There's little doubt we'll see continued rock-steady execution and leadership from Informatica in the months ahead.

MICROSOFT has three legs supporting its seat in the enterprise: SharePoint, SQL Server and Office. SharePoint 2010 was on a roll last year, while Microsoft SQL Server held steady and Microsoft Office saw declines in corporate sales. All three products are poised for strength in 2010 as Redmond readies its SQL Server R2 release (with the PowerPivot add-in for in-memory analysis). Microsoft is also slated to introduce a highly scalable Parallel Data Warehouse. And then there's Windows 7, which will finally begin to replace XP and prompt upgrades to Office 2010. Although Microsoft's old formula still works for millions in the broad enterprise market, the company is also preparing for the future with the cloud-based Azure platform. It took a while for Microsoft to refocus, but now it's betting big that companies will want to simplify and cut the cost of IT.

NETEZZA is doing what's necessary to stay in the thick of the data warehouse appliance market and ahead of a pack of alternative providers. The 2009 move to the TwinFin architecture got Netezza off proprietary hardware while retaining the advantages of the company's data streaming technology. Aggressive pricing and smart partnering have also been to the company's advantage, and the new Skimmer appliance looks like an affordable platform for development, market seeding and innovative plug-in applications. In addition, Netezza is a leader in bringing analytics into the database through a large and active partner community.

ORACLE shines on the well-known "ability to execute" scale. Regulatory delays notwithstanding, Oracle smartly and swiftly integrates the many companies it acquires, picking the best technologies rather than preserving sacred cows. In the wake of the BEA acquisition, for example, Oracle pursued deep, technical integration, melding BEA's business-user-friendly tooling with its own strong backend. There are encouraging signs of the same approach with the Sun acquisition and coming Fusion Applications. Oracle's record isn't perfect; we've waited too long for Fusion Apps, and we suspect the Exadata hype is well ahead of field deployment. But you have to be impressed with the depth, breadth and consistent execution of this fastest of fast-growing mega vendors.

SALESFORCE.COM extended its dominance in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) space in 2009 by moving into complementary applications. Service Cloud 2 is the company's fastest growing product, netting more than 8,000 customers in little more than a year. On the platform side, isn't just a means for customers to extend and customize sales and service applications. It's a boon to the company's huge and growing list of ISV technology partners. BMC, for instance, will soon bow a SaaS-based version of its Service Desk Express help desk application on the platform. You can expect more deals and continued leadership.

SAS is not only the incumbent of choice for deep statisticians and analysts, it has also built a vast and growing portfolio of industry- and process-specific applications that are giving companies a head start on "competing on analytics." With all the hype about analytics these days, it's important to remember that the wonks who are developing analytics are more than twice as likely to be using SAS software than tools from any other vendor. What's more, analytics aren't something you just purchase; we're talking about a discipline you must practice. SAS understands this, and plenty of smart people will go with the SAS technologies they know when they are asked to build a smarter… whatever.

SYBASE has not only survived, it has thrived. The Sybase ASE relational database is entrenched in the financial services industry, and Sybase IQ -- the top-selling column-store analytic database -- is opening doors across industries and around the globe. The company's complex event processing (CEP) platform, introduced in 2008, has brought Sybase into real-time analytics, and its Aleri acquisition more than doubles Sybase's presence in the CEP market. Mobility is another area where it's clear Sybase has its eyes on the long-term future and where customers will want and need technology and support.

TERADATA is, with good reason, a perennial fixture in the top-right corner of leading analyst reports. It sets the standards for data warehouse performance, and it continues to innovate. In 2009, Teradata filled out its product portfolio to cover more scale, latency and performance bases. The Teradata Extreme Performance Appliance 4555, for example, will meet demands for hyper-fast querying in 2010 as the first-ever solid-state-disk appliance. The company has also introduced virtualized and cloud-based options for sandbox-style development. Teradata's ace in the hole is its depth of understanding of what leading customers need to do to take full advantage of information.

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