Our criteria for choosing the ten companies and technologies that we briefly describe in this posting were that their technology is distinctive, innovative and relevant to major trends in the industry that we are following. Later this month we will be publishing a downloadable report entitled 10 Companies & Technologies To Watch in 2013, which more thoroughly describes each of the companies listed and their technology capabilities and direction. We list these companies here in alphabetical order to avoid the impression that we are ranking these ten companies in some order of merit. In our view they all merit attention. (Our research program for 2013 investigates Big Data and the Real-Time Enterprise. We expect to cover many of the technologies mentioned here in that research program).
Actuate: What we find attractive about Actuate’s Business Intelligence Reporting Tools (BIRT) BI capabilities is the combination of versatile BI capabilities married to a fast and easy-to-use development capability. BI is a moving target for most companies and as such the ability to quickly enhance, change and make BI actionable is a important differentiator.
Clustrix: It is generally acknowledged now that the traditional relational databases have hit a scalability barrier, mainly because they were engineered to scale up, but not to scale out. We witnessed the recent emergence of column store databases which scale out but which focus on read only applications (i.e., BI). Clustrix is the only recent database platform we are aware of that has been built to a scale out architecture that caters both to transaction processing and BI workloads. It is also relatively inexpensive.
Greenplum: Greenplum, a division of EMC, distinguishes itself in our view because it has forged a comprehensive portfolio based on its flagship scale out database but also includes a Hadoop strategy, agile software development (through its acquisition of Pivot Labs) and a fairly advance set of data science services. In short, it is not just selling a database, but doing its best to enable a full spectrum of data analytics capabilities for its customers, including a stable of science consultants who have experience in the field.
GridGain: GridGain can be viewed as a pioneer of in-memory technology. The GridGain platform enables the assembly of large grids of servers that are configured for in-memory operation. It is being used, as one might expect, for mixed workloads of transaction processing and BI. Its relevance is not just the immense processing power that it can assemble but that it fully supports the use of memory as the location for the prime copy of data. As such it enables companies move toward in-memory application architectures.
Hortonworks: Hortonworks, like Cloudera, is competing for the Hadoop distribution and support market. As 2012 could be described as the year of Hadoop, when Hadoop undeniably became mainstream technology, we should expect at least one of the Hadoop-based distribution businesses to establish itself as the premier provider of the Hadoop software stack in the same way that Red Hat became the premier provider of the enterprise Linux software stack.
Lavastorm: Lavastorm is unashamedly focused on BI, straddling the whole spectrum from data acquisition, via a comprehensive data analytics platform, to the implementation of business controls and business action. It provides a user desktop that puts ad hoc data discovery in the hands of the the user, and also provides sophisticated out-of-the-box analytics capabilities.
Neo Technology and Neo4j: This year might be the year that semantic technologies start to gain considerable traction. Whether that’s true or not, the semantically based graph databases are starting to gain traction and the leader of the pack at the moment is Neo Technology with its Neo4j graph database. Graph databases are particularly fast and powerful for querying networks of data including those that exist in computer networks and those that form in social networks. Additionally Neo4j has proven itself in the challenging area of master data management.
Splunk: Splunk built a technology and a business by enabling swift access to machine data: the data that resides in machine logs of every kind throughout computer networks from web logs to system management logs. It was swiftly adopted by many IT departments mainly for the operational management capabilities it enabled. But fairly soon companies began to discover that machine generated data was a rich source of business information. Splunk had built a fast engine and platform for analyzing such data. This has now become a formidable business intelligence engine.
Vitria: Vitria specializes what can be thought of as real-time business systems, although Vitria prefers the term operational intelligence (OI) to describe what it delivers. Vitria’s technology includes complex event processing (CEP), business process management (BPM) and integration technology to gather data from all sources, including Hadoop and several other components. Currently more and more companies are becoming interested in such capabilities because of the competitive advantage they can deliver.
Zakta: Semantic technology is particularly useful in the kind of detailed research activities where you need to trawl through all available information and assemble a virtual research resource that excludes the irrelevant and identifies what’s important. This can, in our opinion, only be achieved by semantic search, which is part of what Zakta provides. Google is, by comparison, a very blunt instrument. Zakta offers series of tools and capabilities: Zresearch, Zmagnify, Zlearn and Zguides.