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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.

Astaro

Another intriguing vendor for unified security is Astaro, which makes a security gateway that incorporates network, mail, and Web lockdown controls. Users can navigate among updates, installations, and appliances with a graphical management tool.

There are plenty of these type of all-in-one kind of devices, but Astaro goes to great lengths to highlight its differences, such as providing a quarantine for spam mails on a local hard drive, or a 7th generation AJAX-featured GUI.

In the coming year, Astaro is likely to put more oomph behind its newest hardware appliance, the Astaro Command Center, which basically lets customers build their own managed security business. Plus, it’s all fueled by Linux.

Likewise Software

Acting like a coach with a fondness for teamwork, Likewise fashions products that make Linux, UNIX and even Mac systems work well in a Windows environment. Although Apple has a very small slice of the enterprise market, some analysts expect the numbers to grow, and Likewise Enterprise 5.0 will be a must-have in those mixed environments.

For companies without much to spend in 2009, the let’s-all-get-along approach offered by Likewise could be beneficial, since it would let users streamline management of different systems without the usual integration and support tangles. Also, for Windows-centric IT shops and data centers, Likewise provides a way to bring in Linux without much pain.

Open-Xchange

In another nod toward Apple’s presence in the enterprise environment, many developers are working to make the iPhone more friendly to corporate types, and Open-Xchange’s efforts are worth watching.

The purveyor of Open Source messaging and collaboration software recently announced that it added support for some Apple applications, including a beta version of its iSync connector, OXtender for Mac OS X. The connector lets mobile devices like iPhones and iPods have access to Open-Xchange data, even if they don’t have an Internet connection. For companies that have employees who are already using Mac products, or that have a virtualization strategy that includes MacBooks, the connector could save on support time and potentially reduce interoperability headaches.

Coraid

Even though budgets might get tweaked, the amount of data created by employees is likely just as voluminous, if not increasing. Coraid, self-dubbed as “The Linux Storage People,” promises to give customers an advantage by showing them how to attach disks to existing servers for storage, instead of having to buy new servers.

Adding inexpensive ATA disks through EtherDrive Storage Blades can create a scalable environment where servers can be sized to meet the need, rather than defined by how much storage capacity they have. The company also sports storage virtualization appliances that it boasts can offer new flexibility to an EtherDrive SAN, also creating a new storage system without a major purchasing round.

These are the types of strategies that are likely to be the hallmark of 2009: doing more with less, and making do with what you’ve got.

Parallels

It’s tough to believe that it was only in 2007 that Parallels came out with its new vision of “optimized computing,” centered around its Open Platform that brings together desktop and server virtualization. Since then, the company has certainly been busy. There’s a robust product family with support of Linux, Mac OS, some Windows systems, and, the company notes, Xen in the future.

Look for its high level of development to continue in areas like consolidation, automation, virtual desktop infrastructure and high-scale virtualization — basically, all the areas that are much-discussed right now for their ability to help an enterprise strategy without a big-pricetag purchasing round. Particularly interesting is the high-scale Linux virtualization, aimed at getting optimal efficiency from servers running Linux, with quick provisioning, resource tracking, load balancing, and more.

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