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Network World - With the Open Source Conference (OSCon) and IDG's LinuxWorld show in the rearview mirror of 2008, it is clear that open source is no longer just a trendy conversation.
What has happened is a clear evolution of a community that has grown up and produced intelligent, cutting-edge technologies with an eye on making computing faster, smarter and cheaper for corporate users. Companies like Openmoko are challenging the mobile device market with its notion that users should control what applications are installed. Others like XAware and SnapLogic are opening up data integration possibilities, and still more are tangling with virtualization, databases, and trading systems. Along with a company accurately called Untangle, the companies' point is to make computing less complex.
The decision is no longer a question of open source, but about what product is best at solving computing problems regardless of how it was built.
Here is a look at 10 companies to watch.
Founded: June 2006
Location: Santa Clara, Calif.
What does the company offer? Analytics appliance based on MySQL featuring the industry's first SQL chip.
Why is it worth watching? Kickfire combines software and hardware to create fast database query performance using the MySQL database. Also provides data warehousing and reporting features lacking in MySQL. The SQL chip moves query processing to a single powerful chip.
How did the company get its start? The company's founders saw current instruction-centric von Neumann architecture as inefficient for processing large data volumes so they sought to minimize the operation set and maximize the data throughput. A key was having an open architecture available via MySQL.
How did the company get its name? A combination of "kickstart" and "fire" was used to convey a new approach in the database market.
CEO and background: Raj Cherabuddi, CEO/president/co-founder. He also was the founding CEO of Sanera Systems, which eventually was bought by McData. He also served as lead architect for Sun's UltraSPARC IIIi processor.
Funding: Series A funding of $10.75 million and Series B at $20 million backed by Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, The Mayfield Fund and Pinnacle Ventures.
Who's using the product? Kickfire is in beta with interest coming from marketing, telecommunications and software service providers, network management, retail, media and government organizations.
Founded: April 2006. The 1.0 product will launch by the end of 2008
Location: San Francisco and New York
What does the company offer? The company has developed the financial industry's first open source platform for automated trading systems.
Why is it worth watching? Marketcetera gives trading companies an open platform that translates into more flexibility and control, and faster deployments which can result in considerable cost benefits.
How did the company get its start? Founders Graham Miller and Toli Kuznets worked for years as software developers and executives in hedge funds and found themselves repeatedly implementing the same trading systems. They tapped the rise in algorithmic trading and the acceptance of open source in the financial services industry to create a platform and offer services.
How did the company get its name? The company thought "Market" + etcetera" was a clever wordplay.
CEO and background: Graham Miller has more than 10 years of experience in the finance and software industries. He recently was director of electronic trading strategies for a New York-based hedge fund and worked for Jane Street Capital, which included overseeing the development of several high-throughput black box trading systems. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science from Stanford University, with a concentration in artificial intelligence.
Funding: Led by Shasta Ventures, the company received $4 million in January 2008.
Who's using the product? Hedge funds and investment banks of all sizes.
Location: Belmont, Calif.
What does the company offer? The first commercially supported open source router/firewall/VPN solution, which appeared in 2006.
Why is it worth watching? The company is combining x86-based processors and multicore technologies with open source code and communities. Vyatta's routing and security appliances scale from branch-office to service-provider installations.
How did the company get its start? Vyatta was founded by Allen Leinwand, venture partner at Panorama Capital and an early Cisco employee, who took his cue from an open source router project out of the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley.
How did the company get its name? The word "vyatta" is ancient Sanskrit and means open.
CEO and background: Before joining Vyatta, Kelly Herrell was the senior vice president of strategic operations at MontaVista Software. Previously, he was vice president of marketing for Cobalt Networks, a provider of open source-based server appliances for Web hosting. He also worked at CacheFlow, Oracle, NCR, Teradata and AT&T. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Washington State University, and an MBA from Cornell University.
Funding: Vyatta completed Series B funding in April 2007, to bring its total venture capital funding to $18.5 million. Investors include Panorama Capital, Comcast Interactive Capital, ComVentures and ArrowPath Venture Partners.
Who's using the product? Vyatta's Community Edition software has been downloaded more than 200,000 times by organizations in aerospace and defense, education, financial services, government, and technology. Corporate customers include enterprise, service provider and governments.
Location: Palo Alto, Calif.
What does the company offer? Software, support and services centered on making it easier to use Maven, a software tool for Java project management and build automation.
Why is it worth watching? Sonatype wants to give Java developers an environment that rivals Microsoft's Visual Studio and .Net. Maven has been downloaded more than two million times, and Sonatype adds to the mix its Nexus repository manager and m2eclipse plug-in, which ties it to the Eclipse IDE.
How did the company get its start? Sonatype saw a gap and filled it after recognizing Maven's widespread adoption highlighted the need for stout development infrastructure tools along with Maven support and services.
How did the company get its name? Sonatype takes its name from the Hindi word "sona," which means gold, and the Latin word "type," which means model.
CEO and background: Jason van Zyl is also founder and CTO. He has more than 10 years' experience in open source and proprietary enterprise software development. He is the founder of the Apache Maven project. Prior to Sonatype, he founded Periapt, which provides software infrastructure development services to Fortune 500 companies. He has also worked as a technology architect at Compusens. He helped found Codehaus, an incubation facility for open source community projects.
Funding: Privately funded.
Who's using the product? Sonatype's tools and services have been downloaded more than two million times by a wide range of companies and organizations that include many members of the Fortune 2000.
Location: San Mateo, Calif.
What does the company offer? It offers a commercial-grade open source gateway to small businesses for blocking spam, spyware, viruses, adware and unwanted content on the network. (Compare Messaging Security products and Secure Web Gateway products.)
Why is it worth watching? The company is aiming at being a leading IT supplier for small and midsized businesses, and is developing other open source IT tools to go along with its network security wares.
How did the company get its start? Dirk Morris and John Irwin spent three years writing code to drastically reduce the cost of proprietary software and the complexity of open source deployments. The pair used dozens of open source technologies and has open sourced 95% of the code they created.
How did the company get its name? Company founders say the Untangle name reflects their mission to eliminate IT complexity for small businesses.
CEO and background: Bob Walters used to land F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft on aircraft carriers before selling Teros, an application security start-up, to Citrix Systems. He has held executive and/or general management positions with Securant, Linuxcare, Informix Software and Red Brick Systems. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and was a Guggenheim Fellow at Princeton University.
Funding: Two rounds totaling $18.5 million with CMEA Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners.
Who's using the product? Customer list of 5,000 includes Genesis Physicians Group, Bishop Kelley High School, Franklin Academy, University of Georgia and Maine State Employees Association-SEIU Local 1989.