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.

VMware

It would be challenging to predict even more virtualization ahead without bringing VMware into the conversation. The one-to-beat in market, the company is eager to get virtualization across an enterprise, and it seems they’d virtualize the lunchroom if they could figure it out. Maybe that’s next year.

Recently, CEO Paul Maritz even noted that companies should think about virtualizing cell phones that are issued to employees, because it would allow for better monitoring and reduced cost. The company also launched VMware View 3 this year, which they say lets IT decouple a desktop from a specific location so that data, applications, and settings can be accessible from other devices. That plays well with the rise in mobile computing, which means that yes, actually, there might be a bit of virtualization going on in the lunchroom.

Hyperic

In addition to consolidation and virtualization, look for sharper management tactics to come up more often in the next year. After all, better management saves time and increases efficiency, and that usually translates into lowered costs.

Hyperic has a nice array of monitoring options that should be attractive to a range of customers. There’s Web application management, with monitors for servers, databases, authentication systems, and all those other umpteenth components that make up a data center. Also compelling is its Hyperic HQ 4.0, which offers application performance monitoring for Amazon cloud users. Companies that are experimenting with using the Amazon cloud services to create more affordable IT strategies will likely embrace this additional monitoring capability.

ScaleMP

Just can’t get enough virtualization options? You’re in luck. ScaleMP is part of the virtual-vendor pack, but does set itself apart with the Versatile SMP architecture, which aggregates multiple x86 systems into a single virtual x86 computer.

Over the past year, the company has been busy creating technology that plays well with multiple types of hardware, and has released aggregation software for the IBM BladeCenter, Dell PowerEdge, Sun Blade 6000, HP ProLiant Server Blades, and others. It’s likely that this level of development will continue at a nice pace, and ScaleMP will keep emphasizing the advantages of aggregation, like scalability and simplification. And, of course, cost savings.

NetGear

In the past year, NetGear has shown a move toward leveraging Linux in more low-cost products, which could provide some nice budget boosts during an enterprise’s purchasing rounds.

For example, there’s the Open Source Wireless-G router released last summer that enables Linux developers to create firmware for specialized applications. The router, which has the unpronounceable nickname of WGR614L, is supported by an Open Source router community that provides firmware downloads, user guides, source code, and support. It’s worth watching to see what NetGear might roll out next, now that it has this type of strong Open Source community created.

Then, too, there’s their recently launched ReadyNAS Pro, designed for SMBs, workgroups, and home offices. It’s a handy machine, since it has a small form factor and boasts a number of high-end server features, including built-in backup and system monitoring. For companies that don’t have much room, or need some high-performance storage on a temporary basis, this might be the one to roll on in.

Google

Mobility will be a huge topic for 2009, and choosing just one vendor to highlight is a bit tricky (ladies and gentleman, rev up your arguments for additional worthy candidates in the comments section). But even though several companies made some nifty gadgets and advancements this past year, it’s tough to ignore Android.

After all, the free mobile platform was developed by the Open Handset Alliance, a group of 30 tech and mobile companies. Samsung recently announced it was planning an Android phone for the U.S. in 2009, to battle the T-Mobile version already available. It may not be as fun to watch this battle as it would be to see actual androids duking it out, but it could be lively nonetheless. And, the more competition in the marketplace, the more price drops are likely to occur. Let the Android games begin!

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