10 IT management companies still worth watching

Virtualization management, open source tool companies from last year’s 'Companies to Watch' list still cranking

A look back at last year’s 10 network and systems management companies to watch, including Kace, Q1 Labs and Splunk.

About a year ago, Network World shined its spotlight on 10 IT management companies poised to challenge industry veterans. The newcomers took on network, systems, applications, security and more.

Here’s a brief look at what these companies have done for you lately.


10 IT management software companies to watch


CiRBA

Why it made the list: CiRBA's DCI (Data Center Intelligence) software detects detailed configurations, changes and differences across heterogeneous environments, helping customers with data-center consolidation and virtual-server planning. "This is going to be something the big guys will want to have as virtualization adoption moves more aggressively into production," says Evelyn Hubbert a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Highlights from past year: CiRBA recently at VMworld detailed its latest release DCI 4.4, which is fully integrated with VMware. Also IBM Global Technology Services and Unisys Enterprise Solution Services in August separately announced they would standardize all server consolidation and virtualization analysis engagements on DCI.

FiveRuns

Why it made the list: FiveRuns Systems Management is delivered using a software-as-a-service model, which offers small-to-midsize companies short on IT staff the means to bring enterprise-level monitoring in house. "FiveRuns offers some interesting management tools for SMBs," says Rich Ptak, principal and founder of research firm Ptak, Noel and Associates.

Highlights from past year: The company launched its new platform Rails Management Suite in May and has signed some 60 companies as customer to date. Ruby on Rails is an open source Web framework on which FiveRuns built its management platform. The company made available this year two components of the suite, RM-Manage and RM-Install. The latter is a freeware application, which has been downloaded hundreds of times and that helps customers develop, deploy and manage Rails applications.

Kace

Why it made the list: Kace packaged its IT management and provisioning software applications on easy-to-install KBOX appliances targeted for small-to-midsize customers.. The company also received a stamp of approval from former Cisco CIO Peter Solvik, whose venture capital firm Sigma Partners invested in the company's second round of funding. Solvik sits on the board of directors at Kace.

Highlights from past year: The company has more than 300 customers and manages more than 200,000 nodes, and executives say Kace has seen more then 200% revenue growth in the first half of 2007 compared to the same period last year. Kace also signed partnerships with established industry players, such as Apple, Citrix, Gateway, Microsoft, Red Hat, Sun and VMware.

Klir Technologies

Why it made the list: Klir offered customers commercial and freeware (for managing as many as 25 devices) versions of its IT management software, which the company delivered in a software-as-a-service model by partnering with vendors and industry analyst firms to subsidize the cost of its software. Using Web 2.0 technologies, Klir offered customers IT-management software with a unique interface that featured content from partners.

Highlights from past year: Highlights from past year: According to the company's Web site, more than 4,000 IT professionals registered for the free entry-level version of Klir Analytics, and the company announced former Microsoft and Expedia executive Bill Bliss joined the company as CTO. Systems Integrator Scalable Networks also signed on with Klir to deliver the technology in its managed services business. Yet company officials didn't respond to repeated attempts to contact it for an update, and rumor has it Klir shut its doors Aug. 1.

Systems Integrator Scalable Networks also signed on with Klir to deliver the technology in its managed services business.

Persystent Technologies

Why it made the list: Persystent Enterprise software provides automated PC life-cycle management, by enforcing preset desktop use policies and addressing the most common PC support issues with every PC boot and without human intervention.

Highlights from past year: The company reports it evolved its sales model to 25% direct and 75% channel and signed some 45 partners for the latter. The change has enabled Persystent to triple its sales revenue in 12 months, and deliver Persystent Enterprise 9 early this year with a new release expected to be available in the fourth quarter.

Q1 Labs

Why it made the list: Q1 was one of the first vendors to deliver network behavior-analysis technology, which couples traffic and flow monitoring and analysis capabilities with intelligence on known threats to better secure internal networks. Also because the technology baselines normal behavior, it can alert on anomalous behavior that could be unknown or unidentified threats.

Highlights from past year: Q1 Labs announced in May QFlow, an application-layer network-analysis solution, which resonated with industry watchers. "Focusing on Layers 2 through 4 is no longer sufficient for network security monitoring,” Jon Oltsik, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said about the news. “By providing very accurate and very granular Layer 7 visibility, Q1 Labs is helping customers to safely roll out and subsequently monitor their critical networked applications.”

Spiceworks

Why it made the list: Spiceworks IT Desktop software is offered free for download and manages as many as 250 devices without requiring customers to distribute agents. The company also adopted a unique business model by partnering with Google AdSense, which entails customers tolerating clickable ads in their management console and enables the company to offer the software free for use indefinitely.

Highlights from past year: Spiceworks reports it has 5.4 million hardware devices and software application under management supporting 4.2 million employees worldwide. The company attributes those numbers to the 120,000 registered users that have downloaded the software to date. And in August, the venture capital community validated the start-up with $8 million in a second round of funding led by Shasta Ventures.

Splunk

Why it made the list: Splunk Server software, offered in both commercial and open source versions, addresses a daily need for IT managers and can be used as a complementary tool for existing systems management products. "Splunk indexes all sorts of IT data making it searchable for compliance, troubleshooting, security forensics and more, which is much easier than trolling through log files," says Jasmine Noel, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel and Associates.

Highlights from past year: Splunk added 94 customers, including Barnes & Noble, Chevron, MapQuest and Vodafone. The company has also seen its software downloaded more then 100,000 times and signed five more OEM partners, bringing its total to 30. Splunk partnered with SourceForge.net, Digg, NaSPA, LOPSA and USENIX/ SAGE to launch the second annual SysAdmin of the Year Context, “Is Your SysAdmin a Rock Star?”

Symphoniq

Why it made the list: Former NetIQ executives, wanting to speed problem resolution with Web-based applications founded Symphoniq. The company received venture backing for its TrueView software that monitors application performance from browser to backend to automatically detect, diagnose and pinpoint problems.

Highlights from past year: F5 Networks and Citrix NetScaler -- two market-leading application-acceleration vendors -- selected Symphoniq technology to be integrated into the respective product suites. Also, the company extended real-user monitoring capability to include AJAX clients.

Uplogix

Why it made the list: Uplogix's Envoy and EMS network-management applications enable IT managers to reach devices even when the network is down. Such capabilities go a long way toward cutting costs when supporting remote offices by reducing the need to locate staff at every office.

Highlights from past year: Uplogix brought on former NetBotz CEO and Apogee Networks COO Tom Goldman to be its chief executive, and former CEO Barry Cox is taking on the CTO role. The company opened an office in London to expand its reach into Europe and is expected to release upgrades to its products this fall.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.