Linux Magazine’s Top 20 Companies to Watch in 2009

Once again -- with remarkable clarity -- we peer into our crystal ball and pick which companies in and around open source are going to grab your attention in 2009.


At the risk of ruffling a few penguin feathers, Microsoft makes the list again this year. The behemoth has captured our attention for some time with its steps toward making nice with the open source community, including actually hiring developers for its Redmond workforce.

Then there’s the recent release of its Web Application Installer, aimed toward assisting Open Source developers who want to explore the .Net Framework. The Installer comes with support for Drupal and OScommerce as well as some other Open Source Web applications.

This could be a boon for those who like Drupal, but it remains to be seen whether Microsoft can really ever get past that moment that CEO Steve Ballmer called Open Source “a cancer” in the software development world. If Microsoft becomes one of the biggest distributors of Open Source Web software, will they finally call OS “a cure” instead?


It’s tough not to like a company that throws out a tagline like “Kill Your Database,” because really, at some point, hasn’t everyone felt that homicidal impulse toward a sluggish or poorly configured database?

But they don’t mean it literally (too bad). Instead, Terracotta — a provider of infrastructure software for enterprise Java scalability — offers an open source Java clustering product, Terracotta version 2.7, that promises to reduce development time and the number of application servers and databases required to support Java infrastructures. According to the company, that leads to lowered operational and capital costs, while still maintaining performance and high availability. Try ‘em out, killer.


Although analyst predictions for desktop and laptop sales in 2009 are fairly gloomy, there’s some optimism around netbooks, mainly because the small form factor allows this category of machines to be cheap.

Dell could help save some hardware upgrade costs for companies willing to replace laptops with netbooks, or simply supplement its mobility strategy with the wee machines. Dell hit the holiday buying season hard with its Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook, running Canonical’s Ubuntu 8.04, with special pricing that put it below $400. For any company considering rolling out more computing power to its mobile workforce, Dell’s Mini could be tempting for ordering in bulk.


The idea behind Zimory is that data centers can manage and utilize their servers more efficiently by building internal cloud computing systems. The company helps customers with a fairly unique offering: the Zimory Marketplace, which offers excess server capacity in an eBay-type bazaar, so data centers can either buy or sell according to their needs.

This isn’t an entirely new concept: Amazon offers this type of capacity, but the difference is that Amazon sells only the capacity from its own servers, Zimory notes, rather than acting as both a buyer and seller. The process is very straightforward and pretty simple, walking a new user through screens that are akin to setting up a Gmail account. The platform lets users select from a range of appliances, including Linux, and a few clicks later, the appliance is ready to go. It’s a handy way to play with cloud computing, without too much commitment.

Check Point

Want to really save money this year? Don’t get slammed in a security breach or infected because the temp doesn’t understand how to use a VPN. There are plenty of security products on the market, and numerous vendors, and Check Point makes the list for being one of the strongest.

The company offers network, data, and endpoint security, as well as unified policy management and monitoring through its security management service. A nicely distinctive system is its Unified Security Architecture that lets users save money by having a single, end-to-end security system instead of a cobbled-together security strategy incorporating multiple vendors. As “consolidation” becomes more a buzzword in the year ahead, that tactic will likely extend to security efforts, too, and watch for Check Point to talk up its version.

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