11 open source companies to watch

Open source companies worth watching focus on cloud computing, security, collaboration and more.


Company name: Cfengine
Founded: Incorporated in 2008 in Oslo, Norway; incorporated in U.S., June 2009.
Locations: Oslo, Norway; St. Petersburg, Fla.

Product company offers: Cfengine 3, the Community Edition, is a server configuration management technology. Cfengine Nova, the commercial edition, is server life-cycle management software for building, deploying managing and auditing.

Why it is worth watching: An open source product for 16 years, the company added technical support and commercial based support just this year for software that includes a unique policy-based, real-time repair feature. The company now has a version designed for full server life-cycle management.


Company name: Cloudera
Founded: 2008
Location: Burlingame, Calif.

Product company offers: Cloudera Distribution for Hadoop is a packaging of the Apache Hadoop open source project for massive data processing. Cloudera Desktop is a unified GUI for Hadoop applications delivered in a Web browser. The client is focused on collaboration and extensibility.

Why is it worth watching: Cloudera offers commercial support, and extensions for the Hadoop project, a de-facto industry standard for data-driven computing. Hadoop does deep analysis and parallel processing of massive amounts of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data, to support distributed applications. It runs on data center infrastructure – clusters of inexpensive commodity servers. Hadoop co-creator Doug Cutting, who named the project after his child's stuffed elephant, joined Cloudera in September.


Company name: CubeTree
Founded: 2008
Location: Redwood City, Calif.

Product company offers: CubeTree is a free enterprise collaboration suite built on a social networking platform. The platform provides profiles, activity feeds, micro-blogging, wikis, blogs, polls, file sharing, link sharing and search. It integrates with other platforms including Twitter, Google Docs and Salesforce.com, and the standard version has basic security including SSL. The premium version adds access restrictions based on IP addresses or browser, password policies and the ability to turn features on and off. Its open-source stack includes Debian, MySQL, memcached and Ruby on Rails . There is a CubeTree API for developers.

Why is it worth watching: CubeTree is banking that the next generation of enterprise collaboration will be built on enterprise social networks. The platform is a cloud service and includes a "Feedback" widget to collect user innovations.

Eucalyptus Systems

Company name: Eucalyptus Systems
Founded: January 2009
Location: Santa Barbara, Calif.

Product company offers: Eucalyptus is an open source system for implementing on-premise private and hybrid clouds that turn data center resources such as computers, networks, and storage into a cloud that is controlled and customized by IT. Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition with VMware support enables customers to implement Eucalyptus using VMware's vSphere, ESX or ESXi. It also supports Xen and KVM in the cloud. Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition, VMware, and Amazon Web Services interface compatibility are in combination the same way customers use the Amazon EC2 public cloud.

Why is it worth watching: Eucalyptus is now distributed with every release of Ubuntu, including the new Karmic Koala version that was released last month, and is the underlying technology that powers the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC). The software can be deployed on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Debian, and OpenSUSE. Customers announced include Eli Lilly and NASA .


Company name: Gluster
Founded: 2005, first shipment January 2007
Location: Milpitas, Calif.

Product company offers: GlusterFS is a clustered file system for storing unstructured data. It features a global namespace, but does not have a centralized meta-data server. Instead, GlusterFS uses an index to look up files, employing a hashing algorithm to find a unique identifier for each file. Each server in the cluster knows where every file is stored. GlusterFS runs on commodity hardware and can scale from a few terabytes to multiple petabytes.

Why it is worth watching: GlusterFS delivers scalability and performance using a unique architecture. The file system is not embedded in the kernel but rather installs on top of the operating system to simplify installation and configuration. The architecture means file system functions can be combined in a modular way to build configurations for nearly any workload.


Company name: Likewise
Founded: September 2004
Location: Bellevue, Wash.

Product company offers: Likewise provides integration and identity management software for mixed environments. It is focused on security, operational efficiencies and regulatory compliance. Likewise Open integrates authentication across Linux, Unix and Mac environments with Microsoft's Active Directory as the hub. Likewise Enterprise includes the core authentication and adds migration, group policy, auditing and reporting modules.

Why it is worth watching: Likewise functions in a hybrid open source model, with Open a free version and Enterprise as proprietary software. The industry will have to wait to see if that trend catches on, but until then they can review Likewise's sales and revenue growth of slightly more than 100% during the past year. The company has distribution deals with Red Hat, Novell, and Canonical/Ubuntu. And partners in Apple, Citrix, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun and VMware.

Lucid Imagination

Company name: Lucid Imagination
Founded: 2008
Location: San Mateo, Calif.

Product company offers: Lucid Imagination, the first commercial entity dedicated to the Lucene/Solr open source search technology, provides commercial platforms, support, training and consulting along with certified, tested versions of Lucene and Solr.

Why is it worth watching: More than 4,000 organizations worldwide use Lucene/Solr technology to develop sophisticated full-text search applications. Many of the key contributors and committers to the Lucene/Solr project are on staff at Lucid Imagination. The Lucene search library is a Top 15 open source project, according to the Open Source Census.


Company name: MindTouch
Founded: 2004
Location: San Diego

Product company offers: MindTouch Standard, Enterprise and Core deliver a platform for creating, aggregating and sharing information regardless of form. It is part wiki, portal and application server, and includes integration with Microsoft productivity tools, database and CRM adapters, charting tools, and directory integration.

Why it is worth watching: In 2009, MindTouch was cited as a Forrester Wave Strong Performer and the best product alternative to Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus. "It is kind of like an app server with a wiki-like interface," says Aaron Fulkerson, CEO and former distributed systems researcher at Microsoft.


Company/Project name: openQRM
Founded: 2008
Location: Germany

Product company offers: The core openQRM Team is four freelance programmers who also provide professional services for the platform: data center design and implementation; setup, customization and adaptation to existing infrastructure; third-party tool integration; server templating and migration; long-term support/maintenance/ update-service; and training and workshops.

Why it is worth watching: openQRM is designed to fully automate data centers and manage them in a scalable way. Among its many characteristics is a unique architecture that unifies physical- and virtual-machine deployment within a single management console. OpenQRM integrates with Xen, KVM, Citrix Xen, VMware Server, VMware 2 and VMware ESX, and supports P-to-V, V-to-P and also V-to-V migrations. The software supports NFS, iSCSI, AOE, NetApp and Equallogic. openQRM's storage integration uses snapshots to clone servers for rapid deployment, backup/restore, server versioning, disk resizing and persistent cloud storage. It also has an "N-to-1" fail-over allowing groups of servers to use a single "standby." It also has the ability to fail-over from physical to virtual machines, and an open API to integrate with existing business processes and other data-center related tools.

Reductive Labs

Company name: Reductive Labs
Founded: 2009; Reductive LLC, 2003
Location: Portland, Ore.

Product/project offered: Develops Puppet, an open source data center automation framework. Puppet allows organizations to manage their computational resources with more consistency, flexibility and transparency by auditing and enforcing configuration policies. Reductive Labs provides training, support and implementation services.

Why it is worth watching: Puppet allows users to declare policies on how machines should be configured in a generic way. Puppet enforces meta data in order to prevent "configuration drift" especially in highly virtualized environments.


Company name: Talend
Founded: August 2005.
Location: Los Altos, Calif.

Product company offers: Talend offers several open source data integration and data quality technologies It offers freely downloadable versions under the GPL license: Talend Open Studio for data integration and Talend Open Profiler for data quality. Talend also offers enterprise extensions, technical support and IP indemnification to its Integration Suite, Integration Suite RTx, Integration Suite MPx and Data Quality. The technology is available in software-as-a-service and cloud deployment.

Why it is worth watching: Talend started with data integration then added data quality and Master Data Management (MDM), which is the first open source MDM.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.