Notable Vendors

Maybe one day, everything the high-tech industry has to offer your enterprise will come from the likes of IBM, HP, Oracle and Microsoft. But until that day arrives, it's refreshing to see a number of stealth-like vendors delivering some notably innovative solutions for customers.

In my recent travels, I've encountered some vendors who really made me lean forward as they were explaining their solutions. In a world of rampant standardization and consolidation, I found it refreshing to hear from some independent thinkers. Among those worth watching, I would suggest:

Splunk: A killer name with a very interesting solution, Splunk basically leverages search to provide IT management, security and compliance tracking and analysis. They like to say "Google for the Enterprise," but what I found most interesting was how they're building a community for IT pros similar to the model Spiceworks has created. Watch these guys. They are onto something unique.

Actuate: Ever have problems extracting the value of your information assets? Actuate serves up enterprise reporting and performance management applications that are customized around specific business processes. Being that CIOs are always trying to extract more value and insight from data, Actuate has developed an open-source development environment (Eclipse BIRT) that presents data in a richer, more interactive way via the Web or any device.

SonicWall: With security still ranking among the top three IT priorities for CIOs-and the network now the digital nervous system for your business-SonicWall is focused on network security, secure remote access, e-mail security and data protection. Assuming that these are priorities as you strive to keep customer satisfaction high and operational disruptions low, I found it interesting to see how SonicWall is growing beyond the small/midsize company space to address the needs of the enterprise.

As M&A activity keeps accelerating in our industry, it's quickly becoming a "David v. Goliath" landscape. But the market needs all shapes and sizes of vendors to push innovation forward. I find myself cheering for these best-of-breed suppliers with their more targeted solutions.

While these smaller players may seem to be "David" in size, they just might have some "Goliath" solutions to offer.

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