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.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

February 11, 2010

18 Min Read

Intelligent enterprises aren't just surviving in challenging times, they are thriving. They are improving internal operations and developing innovative products and services with the help of better insight into customer needs. They are rapidly adapting to changing business conditions. They are increasing customer satisfaction by improving the quality of products and services. And they are doing all of these things with the aid of technology.

To recognize technology providers that are helping practitioners to lead the way, Intelligent Enterprise presents its 11th Annual Editors' Choice Awards. Our editors and contributors considered scores of vendors that are delivering outstanding products and services. We view all 48 companies on our Editors' Choice list as leaders, but a select group of 12 were named among "The Dozen" elite companies that will matter most to intelligent enterprises in 2010. We highlight 36 vendors as "Companies to Watch" in three categories:

Business Intelligence
Enterprise Applications
Information Management

Our Editors' Choice award nominations were a collaborative endeavor, with extensive input from seven experts who are regular Intelligent Enterprise contributors:

Rajan Chandras, integration expert and author
Seth Grimes, Alta Plana
Cindi Howson, BI Scorecard
David Linthicum, data integration and cloud computing expert
Curt Monash, Monash Research
Alan Pelz-Sharpe, CMS Watch
David Stodder, Perceptive Information Strategies

We are grateful for the input and analysis provided by these experts. However, Intelligent Enterprise Editor-in-Chief Doug Henschen was responsible for the final selection of "The Dozen" and "Companies to Watch." We encourage practitioners and independent experts to share their comments in our discussion forum (below), while those representing or otherwise tied to individual vendors should send comments to [email protected].


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.


Acorn Systems offers activity-based cost-analysis software that helps companies assess the true cost of products, services and customers. This capability helps companies reduce cost, improve efficiency, optimize distribution and logistics, and assess suppliers, products and customers. It's as close as you'll come to a silver bullet for ensuring profitable growth.

Actuate entered the ground floor of the open-source BI movement back in 2004 by proposing BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) to the Eclipse Foundation. Embracing and supporting the project's strong and growing developer community, Actuate has repositioned its commercial version around this growing open-source project.

Adaptive Planning gets you up and running with SaaS-based budgeting, planning and analysis within weeks instead of the months required for on-premise software. The service offers everything from data integration to dashboards and reporting, and it's particularly appealing for global and highly distributed enterprises.

Attensity has delivered breakthrough voice-of-the-customer analysis results for customers like JetBlue Airways. This insight helps them spot, understand and quickly respond to trends in customer sentiment. This capability helps executives see gaps in service and product quality and seize opportunities to address customer concerns.

Clarabridge has mastered the science of extracting insight from e-mail messages, surveys, customer comments and social media networks. The company's software lets users explore these findings and bring them into the world of conventional BI for a deeper understanding of product and service strengths and trends in customer sentiment.

Host Analytics provides SaaS-based corporate performance management. It's a no-brainer for distributed enterprises that want a low-cost, low-fuss way to get a grip on budgeting, planning and financial consolidation. Integrated forecasting, scorecarding and OLAP-based financial reporting seal the deal.

Information Builders doesn't get the credit it deserves for its WebFocus BI suite. The vendor's pioneering Active Reports technology was improved in 2009 with Active PDF, which delivers slick, Flash-based reports with data interactivity. Information Builders has also integrated analytic analysis with its BI suite through RStat, a free module based on the R open-source programming language. The choice ensures a rich set of algorithms and ongoing community development.

Jaspersoft has strong partnerships and OEM relationships that have helped the company build a strong financial base and big community of developers around its open-source BI suite. Recent upgrades include improved in-memory analysis and Flash-based visualizations. With open source, what you pay for is the service, and independent surveys show Jaspersoft's is among the best in BI.

MicroStrategy is among the largest independent BI vendors remaining, and it has proven itself in large-scale deployments with cutting-edge dashboarding capabilities. Last year's MicroStrategy 9 release introduced an in-memory analysis option, and its free, downloadable Reporting Suite now seeds entry-level adoption. MicroStrategy is a popular choice as an enterprisewide BI standard.

Oco has offered SaaS-based BI since 1999, and it can rapidly integrate complex data sources. It offers a battery of prebuilt analytics that address sales and profitability, sourcing and procurement, quality and production, inventory, transportation and logistics, and customer management. In short, it's ready for a range of business-specific challenges.

PivotLink started as SeaTab Software back in 1998, and it has been offering BI as a service ever since. The company has among the broadest functionality in SaaS-based BI, and upgrades in 2009 introduced welcome dashboard and data visualization upgrades.

QlikTech is a fast-growing industry leader that has helped transform expectations about how BI should work. Its rapid deployment capabilities and flexible, in-memory analysis clearly influenced the market. Now that in-memory architectures have gone mainstream, we're anxious to see how QlikTech continues to differentiate.

R Project is an open-source statistical programming environment that is winning broad praise and accelerating uptake as a language for in-database analytics. The likes of SAS, SPSS and Information Builders are even using it to extend their proprietary suites.

Tableau has combined advanced visualization capabilities with ease of use, enabling nontechnical users to quickly develop insightful, easily understood dashboards and reports. The company's desktop product is highly affordable, and its server-based product supports broad collaboration and immediate understanding with minimal training. The new Tableau Public service brings data exploration to the social networking masses.

TIBCO could just as easily be listed among our Information Management Ones to Watch. But this firm sets itself apart by helping companies interpret -- as well as manage and integrate -- data and events. TIBCO Spotfire provides trend-spotting analysis through easily understood data visualizations. The company also offers complex event processing (CEP) for the broad market, where insight into events will make real-time BI a reality.


Adobe is unquestionably a leader in rich Internet applications, but its mighty Flash/Flex/AIR lineup has come under scrutiny. In our view, the current flap will drive improvements to the Flash/Flex and AIR footprint and security features. Even if Apple continues its iPhone/iPad boycott, Adobe's pervasive technology will be a part of the slickest enterprise digital interactions.

Eclipse Foundation has built an open-source community and a powerful ecosystem that continues to revolutionize the way software is created and deployed. At the center is a multi-language software development environment and rich-client deployment platform that is open and highly extensible. Eclipse is the tail that now wags enterprise software development.

Pegasystems is a key player in the rapidly consolidating business process management (BPM) market. It offers enviable business-rule and process-automation technology, and its scale and desirable blue-chip customer base ensure a solid future, whether through independence or acquisition.

Progress Software offers a lot of key TLAs -- three letter acronyms, that is. It was among the first companies to introduce an ESB, and its Progress Sonic ESB is still going strong. Progress Apama is a leader in the budding CEP market. Progress also raised interest with its recent acquisition of BPM vendor Savvion. This collection is destined for something BIG.

RightNow not only offers rapid deployment, flexibility and low cost -- all hallmarks of its SaaS-based CRM delivery model -- it has also innovated, incorporating social media monitoring and basic text analytic capabilities into its services. The company seems to be keeping its own 2,000-plus customers happy.

SAP and its customers share at least one important priority for 2010: delivering innovative products and services. For customers, that will naturally require development around SAP's financial, human resource, manufacturing, supply chain and customer support applications. SAP has made headway toward fast process modeling, drag-and-drop orchestration and development, but too many bits and pieces have yet to be delivered. We're hoping new leadership will help accelerate the move to flexible composite apps and middleware, and state-of-the-art on-demand services.

Software AG acquired WebMethods in 2007 and IDS Scheer last year, which puts it on a short list for possible acquisition (with SAP being a potential suitor). Many organizations with sophisticated business processes are no strangers to IDS Scheer's modeling and optimization tools. And Software AG's SOA technology helps customers develop agile and reusable application components. Software AG is a serious, global player.

Workday is a leading provider of SaaS-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. With more than 100 customers and 100,000 users, Workday is building on a strong base. Broad capabilities, including built-in BI features, will keep this service growing.


Aster Data isn't large or well known (yet), but its Aster Data-Application Server is as elegant at data handling as it is proficient at integrating SQL and MapReduce analysis. What's more, Aster has integrated SAS analytics into its database. In short, Aster has a good recipe for more customer wins.

Autonomy has an enviable portfolio of technologies, including its eponymous search tools, Zantaz e-mail archiving products and services, and the Interwoven and iManage content management systems acquired in 2009. The holding company connections at Autonomy are tighter than the actual technology integrations, but it's a nice collection nonetheless.

Cloudera provides all the tools, services and support you'll need to run open-source Hadoop data processes with enterprise-grade performance and reliability. Hadoop and its MapReduce function have quickly become the default choice for many kinds of data transformations and analytic processes. Hadoop, MapReduce and Cloudera are destined for growth in the big-data era.

Greenplum is a strong analytical DBMS contender that has extended its technical capabilities with column-store and cloud options. It's also redefining price points for workgroup- and enterprise-scale data warehousing.

HP was widely expected to directly enter the business intelligence and information integration software markets, but maybe it has been smarter to partner rather than purchase. HP has a tight alliance with Microsoft, and MS SQL-based data warehouse appliances on HP hardware are in the pipeline for 2010. On the integration front, partners like Informatica are growing faster than the giants, so why pick the rose?

InfoBright developed unique compression and query approaches before taking its analytical database engine open source. InfoBright has gained marketshare and mindshare since releasing the community edition of its MySQL-based DBMS.

InterSystems can help you embed business intelligence graphs, charts, reports, dashboards and other data visualizations into applications. But we also like InterSystems' Caché object-oriented database. The DBMS offers outstanding performance that relational engines can't match when dealing with objects, yet you also get Sybase and Informix emulation. Caché plays well in the fast-growing healthcare sector, where medical records need object-oriented treatment.

Kalido is as well known for rapid data warehouse development and modeling as it is for its master data management (MDM) software. Diversity is also shown in Kalido's support for Oracle- and SQL Server- and Netezza-based data warehousing. An appliance offering built on Netezza hardware will add yet another option in 2010. We like this company's prospects.

Kapow Technologies delivers a Web Data Service that performs the integration middleware function of selective extract and transform from Web sources. Load and other operations are up to the subscriber. Kapow's service essentially turns Web sites into information sources for BI and analytics applications.

Nuxeo is growing despite -- perhaps because of -- the rocky economy. The open-source enterprise content management (ECM) vendor is expanding in the United States while chugging along nicely in its European home base. Nuxeo's appeal is solid-yet-affordable content management. Business-specific applications and use cases naturally benefit from strong community support.

OpenCalais is a free Web service from Thomson Reuters that applies semantic annotation (tagging) to named entities, facts and events in submitted text within seconds. An open API makes it easy to integrate/mash content to deliver new information products and services. What's more, high-performance/high-volume commercial services are available.

Talend has already democratized data integration with its open-source ETL engine. Now the company has its sights set on MDM, a market in which six-figure software fees are just the starting point. Talend is making data integration and data-quality management more affordable.

Vertica is bringing cutting-edge data storage architectures to the commercial mainstream with its column-store analytic database. Now that rival Sybase has acquired CEP vendor Aleri, look to Vertica to draw closer ties with sister company Streambase. Database luminary Michael Stonebraker had a hand in launching both companies, and it would make a winning combination.

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