Down To Business: Enterprise IT's Most Disruptive Vendors - InformationWeek
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9/23/2010
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Rob Preston
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Down To Business: Enterprise IT's Most Disruptive Vendors

God bless the IT disrupters, those startups and established vendors that have caused enterprises to rethink and even redefine the way they evaluate, buy, deploy, manage, and use technology.God bless the IT disrupters, those startups and established vendors that have caused enterprises to rethink and even redefine the way they evaluate, buy, deploy, manage, and use technology.

God bless the IT disrupters, those startups and established vendors that have caused enterprises to rethink and even redefine the way they evaluate, buy, deploy, manage, and use technology. They're not always the most entrenched IT vendors, but they've shaken up the status quo with their new products, approaches, and models. Think Apple in the consumer market, and how it has disrupted the way people buy, share, manipulate, and use music and Web information.

The following list of enterprise IT disrupters is a natural successor to the top 20 list of most strategic enterprise IT vendors that I laid out in February (informationweek.com/1259/preston). As before, these selections are presented for your evaluation and critique. It's far from being an exhaustive list, and you can find more of our vendor selections--and share your opinion--at informationweek.com/1280/preston.

>> VMware. In less than a decade, VMware--No. 8 on my earlier list of the most strategic IT vendors--has initiated a wholesale reorganization of data center and systems management around the virtualization of the software layer. In a recent InformationWeek Analytics survey, 45% of respondents said their companies planned to have at least half of their servers virtualized by the end of 2011.

>> Salesforce.com. Another vendor that straddles "strategic" and "disrupter," Salesforce practically established software as a service as an enterprise IT model, for its CRM applications, then ramped up Force.com as the leading development platform for a range of SaaS-based business apps.

>> Google. While Research In Motion and various Linux committees fiddled with their responses to the iPhone, Google's Android roared from zero share of the U.S. smartphone operating system market in 2007 to 17% in the most recent quarter, when it was the only platform to increase its share, according to ComScore. Today, Android trails only BlackBerry (39%) and iPhone (24%). As my colleague Fritz Nelson notes, Google may just win the smartphone platform wars because it has positioned Android much like Microsoft did Windows: agnostic about everything except your using its OS.

>> Amazon.com. The whole concept of buying compute and storage resources on demand got off the ground with Amazon Web Services, which now is almost synonymous with the public cloud and "infrastructure as a service." Eli Lilly and several other companies are exploring using AWS services in more than just niche areas, while entrenched enterprise vendors such as Microsoft, IBM, and HP are in various stages of responding.

>> Netezza. The current frenzy around "big data" appliances--combining storage, processing, database, and analytics into a single, high-performance system--was pioneered a decade ago by a startup, Netezza, which today counts hundreds of enterprise customers, including Nationwide and NYSE Euronext. IBM validated that market last week with its bid to acquire Netezza for $1.7 billion, positioning itself mainly against Oracle, Teradata, and HP.

>> Vontu. Among information security disrupters, my colleague Tim Wilson, editor in chief of sister site DarkReading.com, likes Vontu, now part of Symantec. Vontu took the concept of data loss prevention and turned it into a standard enterprise security technology within about four years. DLP was the first real effort to stop insider threats and accidental data leaks, glaring security weaknesses that weren't being addressed by any of the existing antivirus, IPS, or other technologies.

Rob Preston is VP and editor in chief of InformationWeek. You can write to Rob at rpreston@techweb.com.

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