10 open source companies to watch

Products range from databases to data integration

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.

Company name: Kickfire

Founded: June 2006

Location: California, US

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 US$10.75 million and Series B at US$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.

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