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Linux Magazine’s Top 20 Companies to Watch in 2007

We pick the companies that are defining the future of Information Technology and will have the most impact on the Open Enterprises of 2007. It's the inaugural edition of our 20 Companies to Watch list and we guarantee that every company here will challenge how you think about Linux and Open Source before the year is out.

VMware

Don’t think, just say it. When you hear the term “virtualization,” what’s the first company that pops into your mind? Chances are the answer is VMware, which has quickly become the virtualization hypervisor of choice. Although the vendor has a number of competitors, especially startups that have noticed the booming amount of discussion about the benefits of virtualization, it manages to stay king of the mountain, at least for now.

An EMC subsidiary, VMware has been arguing for years that virtual machines will make running a data center more painless, from using server hardware more efficiently, to simplifying software installs. The company has been toiling to make its underlying virtual machine technology the foundation to beat, and given potential customers a glimpse at its offerings with a Web site where users can download sample, virtual-based packages from Oracle, IBM, and other vendors.

But with success comes competition, and in VMware’s case, it’s likely to face a very heavy hitter in the next year. In November, Microsoft promoted virtualization as a way to try out software easily , and touted its own Virtual Hard Disk, a product developed to serve the same intent as VMware. VHD is available under the terms of Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise, which removes fear of patent infringement for developers, and so doesn’t require a commercial license. Offering the tool for free has been a way to encourage developers to make use of VHD, and it’s also a move that could ultimately hurt VMware in the near future.

Still, it’s likely that VMware, the EMC darling, won’t go down without a fight. The company has been inking deals and extending the reach of virtualization in late 2006, most notably by launching a marketplace and certification program for virtual appliances. Customers can evaluate or purchase from a collection of more than 300 appliances, making enterprise IT shopping as easy as throwing together an Amazon.com wish list.

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