Ten Leading Open Source Innovators

Wednesday Feb 21st 2007 by Jeff Vance
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Profiles of companies on the forefront of open source application development. We look at their key project, funding, top personnel, and market strategy.

It’s a contentious time for the open-source community. Microsoft has partnered with Novell, Oracle is angling for Red Hat’s customer base, while Linux is promising to enlarge its influence in the burgeoning market for mobile phones and set-top boxes.

In the past, any open-source discussion centered on Linux, but now that Linux is a mature, stable operating system, the real innovation is happening elsewhere. As Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff notes, what’s most interesting is what happens when the open-source push collides with other technology trends – when it enters the data center, when it drives the virtualization movement, when it changes how software is delivered and monetized, or when it spurs application ecosystems.

Gartner analyst George Weiss opines that just 12-18 months ago, there were still questions about whether open-source business models were sustainable. Now, no such questions remain. Open source is becoming so pervasive that big proprietary vendors are not just embracing open source but now must be careful not to be seen as impeding the progress, fearing both developer and customer backlashes.

With those points in mind, here are ten leading commercial open-source innovators and the projects they’re working on:

1. Zenoss

Location: Annapolis, MD

Product or Service: Zenoss Core is open-source network and systems monitoring software. The product includes automatic configuration change tracking, automated remediation of IT infrastructure problems, and other IT management features that are critical for effective IT management.

Why it’s innovative: IT monitoring and management is difficult enough in proprietary environments. Too many tasks are cumbersome, labor-intensive and error-prone. Cobbling together disparate open-source offerings has thus far been a non-starter. Zenoss Core provides the necessary features to monitor an organization’s complete IT infrastructure, including network devices, servers, applications, and environmental controls in a single solution.

The latest version, released on January 26, 2007, also offers automatic change tracking and remediation. Core allows users to build policy rules for automatic remediation steps based on availability issues, performance issues or alarms. Compared to the commercial offerings on the market, such as IBM Tivoli/HP OpenView, or BCM Patrol, Core is significantly less expensive and requires no vendor lock-in, while providing an easy to use web-based GUI and template-based policies.

What’s their track record? The initial release of Zenoss Core has gained some traction in the mid-market where customers can’t typically afford the offerings from the incumbents. Zenoss claims it provides 80% of the functionality of the big offerings at 20% of the cost.

In its first four months of release, Zenoss Core registered more than 50,000 downloads. Based on download statistics from SourceForge.net, Zenoss Core was the most popular commercial open-source IT management platform and achieved an activity rank of 250 out of more than 133,000 registered open-source projects.

Funding: Zenoss recently closed a $4.8 million funding round led by Boulder Ventures and Intersouth Partners with participation from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and individual investors.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? This is a tough market. Besides taking on behemoths like IBM/Tivoli and CA, Zenoss must also fend of other open-source competitors, including Groundwork Open Source, Hyperic and Qlusters.

Who’s on the management team? Bill Karpovich, CEO and co-founder, formerly held leadership positions with several IT startups including USinternetworking and Digex, both of which had successful IPO’s on NASDAQ. Erik Dahl, CTO and co-founder, was previously a senior architect at USinternetworking and director of product development for Meta4. Steve McManus, SVP sales and service, formerly co-founded USinternetworking and served as vice chairman. Mark R. Hinkle, VP business and community development, co-founded both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium, while previously serving as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine.

2. Qumranet

Location: Santa Clara, CA and Netanya, Israel

Product or Service: Although still in stealth-mode, Qumranet has generated enough buzz in the open-source community that its future product offering is already coming into focus. The company will deliver virtualization solutions developed around a kernel-based approach that allows the software to be smaller and more efficient than competing solutions.

Why it’s innovative: “Everybody has been assuming that open-source virtualization will always mean Xen, but Qumranet has taken a different approach that bears watching,” said Brian Stevens, CTO of Red Hat.

Qumranet has developed KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) technology, which is a full virtualization solution based on a loadable kernel module. In contrast to Xen, which uses an external hypervisor, Qumranet believes that Linux itself serves as a good hypervisor. (A hypervisor manages the virtualization and enables multiple operating systems to share a single hardware processor.) KVM leverages Linux’s scheduler and memory management components, allowing full virtualization features at the kernel level.

What’s their track record? Since Qumranet is still in stealth-mode, this question is premature. However, they’ve been active in the open-source community and have gained the attention of major players like Red Hat. “They’ve already been successful at getting their virtualization technology accepted into the upstream Linux tree,” Stevens said.

Funding: The company has secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Sequoia Capital and Norwest Venture Partners.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? First and foremost, Qumranet must compete with open-source opponent Xen, which has a significant head start. In addition, VMWware’s proprietary virtualization solution has been on the market since 2001, and Microsoft is now competing in this space as well.

Who’s on the management team? Benny Schnaider, co-founder and CEO, previously was CEO of PentaCom, which was acquired by Cisco in 2000, after which he held a management position at Cisco Systems Israel. Rami Tamir, co-founder, president and VP of R&D, was formerly a founding team member of PentaCom and held a management position with Cisco Systems Israel.

Moshe Bar, co-founder and CTO, was previously founder and CTO of XenSource and co-founded and CTO of Qlusters. Giora Yaron, Ph.D, co-founder and chairman of the board, previously co-founded a group of data center virtualization and networking startups, including ExaNet, P-cube, PentaCom, and Comsys Communication and Signal Processing.

3. rPath

Location: Raleigh, NC

Product or Service: rPath’s solutions combine software applications with Linux and other open-source components to create virtual appliances.

Why it’s innovative: Virtualization is hot these days. “My watch is becoming more and more focused on virtualization,” said Gartner analyst George Weiss. Weiss pointed out that virtualization platforms like Xen serve as the foundations for future innovations.

Here’s one such future innovation. The early adopters of virtualization technology focused on server consolidation. rPath believes that the same approach can be used to create application-specific “software appliances.” Packaged with a pre-configured application and operating system, virtual appliances are easy to deploy, maintain, and update, while also promising to use hardware resources more flexibly and efficiently.

What’s their track record? Customers include Newbury Networks, Agami Systems, and Vindicia. rPath also received a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to create virtual machine images for deployment in grid environments such as the Open Science Grid.

Funding: On January 30, 2007, rPath closed a $9.1 million Series B round of venture financing from General Catalyst, North Bridge Venture Partners, and Wakefield Group, bringing total funding to $15.5 million.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? This space is in the land-grab phase. rPath does not compete directly with other major virtualization players like VMware and XenSource yet, but that could soon change. VMware has started offering virtual applications but is for the moment acting more like an aggregator than a supplier. Microsoft has also entered the virtualization game, and what their ultimate strategy will be is anyone’s guess. Direct competitors include Tall Maple Systems, Trigence and JumpBox.

Who’s on the management team? Billy Marshall, co-founder and CEO, previously served as Red Hat’s VP of North America sales. Erik Troan, co-founder and CTO, was formerly Red Hat’s VP of product engineering. Brett Adam, VP of product development, served as CTO and Vice President of Engineering for Versata before joining rPath.

Dave Cotton, VP of sales, was formerly regional VP of sales for Red Hat. Dave Welker, VP of finance, previously held management positions as VP of finance and operations at several North Carolina-based software companies; he also held management positions at KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, and Price Waterhouse.

4. Simula Lab

Location: Marina del Rey, CA

Product or Service: CoRE Network is a delivery platform for open-source projects. The CoRE Network serves as a hosting platform for developers, while enterprise customers can use it as an open-source marketplace.

Why it’s innovative: Part of Simula Labs’ value comes from consolidation. Various linked projects can be bundled and tested and then delivered as a software suite to IT customers. Simula Labs’ business model is based on support and maintenance. In addition to aggregating open-source offerings, Simula Labs intends to serve as an incubator for other open-source projects.

Most enterprise IT customers don’t have the time or inclination to sift through an array of open-source offerings to cobble together the right mix that meets their needs. At the same time, the reliability and maintenance of open-source products post-deployment remain concerns. Simula Labs’ believes that its model of hosting, packaging, and servicing open-source projects will spur increases in the enterprise.

What’s their track record? The company launched its product in November, so it’s too early to judge. Products being offered include those from Covalent Technologies, Webtide, LogicBlaze and Chariot Solutions. Simula Labs’ backers, Redpoint Ventures and Mission Ventures, have committed an additional $10-15 million to finance a half dozen or so startups that participate in the CoRE Network.

Funding: The company has secured $6 million in first-round funding from Mission Ventures and Redpoint Ventures.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? The company is uniquely situated in the market for the time being. However, it could face competition from application ecospheres, such as SalesForce.com’s AppExchange and SugarCRM’s SugarExchange, as they expand their reaches. These ecospheres leverage the momentum of broadly adopted applications to spur the acceptance of associated products. Of course, this added functionality increases the stickiness of the original application.

Who’s on the management team? Winston Damarillo, co-founder and managing partner, previously founded Gluecode Software, which was acquired by IBM. Chuck Winckler, CFO, also currently provides interim CFO support for Greenplum, Vativ Technologies, and Litex, and he was a manager with Ernst & Young LLP’s financial advisory services practice. Philip Dodds, CTO, was previously chief architect of Unity Systems. Natalie Burdick, VP of product management, was formerly VP of product management for the CRM division at FrontRange Solutions.

5. MontaVista Software

Location: Santa Clara, CA

Product or service: MontaVista provides a family of Linux-based products for embedded, consumer electronic, and mobile devices, while also offering a Linux-based platform for carrier infrastructure equipment.

Why it’s innovative: MontaVista’s mobile and embedded products promise to push Linux into environments that are currently dominated by proprietary solutions. While this is nothing unique, what’s interesting is MontaVista’s focus on streamlining its mobile footprint to enable single-chip smartphones.

Most current-generation smartphones rely on two separate processors for their array of embedded software. This is part of the reason why smartphones have been out of reach for lower and mid-market consumers. MontVista’s Mobilinux was designed to provide a full-features mobile-phone OS on single-chip phones. Mobilinux includes other features that help to reduce the cost, including those that enable handset manufactures to reduce device footprints, minimize RAM and ROM requirements, and maximize battery life.

What’s their track record? According to President and CEO Thomas F. Kelly, MontaVista’s software has been “deployed in tens of millions of devices and electronic equipment by over 2,000 customers.”

As for mobile devices, Yankee Group analyst John Jackson notes that MontaVista Linux powers 20 million phones, most of which are available in Asian markets.

Funding: In December of last year, MontaVista secured $21 million in funding led by Siemens Venture Capital. Also participating were NEC, Alloy Ventures, US Venture Partners, Aplix and other unnamed investors.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? The opportunity is certainly there, but this is a crowded field. Venture Development Corporation (VDC) estimated that worldwide shipments of embedded/real-time and mobile application operating systems, bundled tools, and related services totaled over $1 billion in 2005. VDC expects that total to grow to $2 billion by 2008.

The various versions of mobile Linux are thus far only applicable for higher-end smartphones, meaning that the main near-term competition comes from market-leader Symbian, which has its own open-source initiatives. According to Gartner, Symbian accounted for about 71% percent of worldwide smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2006. Microsoft, Palm, and RIM accounted for only about 3% percent of smartphone shipments each in the second quarter, with Linux accounting for the remaining 19%.

While Microsoft’s Windows Mobile is only slowly gaining traction and while RIM has been bogged down in legal wranglings, neither should be dismissed. The Palm OS, meanwhile, is staking its comeback on Linux. Since its acquisition by Tokyo-based Access, PalmSource has been working to transform its software into a middleware layer running on top of Linux. The Access Linux Platform was released at the 3GSM World Congress in February 2007.

Finally, a number of other vendors have leveraged their past embedded open-source efforts and entered the mobile fray, taking a path much like MontaVista’s. These vendors include Trolltech, Wind River, and MIZI Research. The mobile company called a la mobile recently entered the field as a pure-play mobile Linux platform provider, and the space only promises to get more crowded as better chipset technology pushes smartphones to the mid-market.

Management Team: Thomas F. Kelly, president and CEO, was formerly CEO of BlueStar Solutions, which was acquired by Affiliated Computer Services. James Ready, CTO and VP of engineering, previously founded Ready Systems and served as its president. Russell Harris, EVP of worldwide field operations, was previously EVP and corporate officer of sales and marketing at BlueStar Solutions.

Scott Jaffe, VP of business development, previously held management positions with a number of companies, including at Sybase and Micro Decisionware. Jason Wacha, VP of corporate affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary, served as VP and general counsel for Advanced Data Exchange prior to joining MontaVista.

6. SugarCRM

Location: Cupertino, CA

Product or service: As its name says, SugarCRM provides open-source CRM applications.

Why it’s innovative: SugarCRM is banking on several current trends: software as a service, adoption of open source in the enterprise, and the penetration of enterprise applications like CRM and SFA into the mid-market.

The service-based architecture helps organizations avoid purchasing expensive “shelf-ware,” or at least minimizes their exposure to unused applications. SugarCRM’s delivery model is tailored to meet various organizational IT needs. The applications can be delivered as a service that is hosted by SugarCRM, as turnkey software housed on enterprise appliances but managed by SugarCRM, or as a server-based application fully managed by the end user.

What’s their track record? Customers include Starbucks, Honeywell, Yahoo, the State of Oregon, NASA Ames Research, AXA Rosenberg, and First Federal Bank. In December 2006, the company announced that it had landed its 1,000th paying customer, and its software had been downloaded over 1,000,000 times.

Funding: In three rounds of funding, SugarCRM has raised $26.52 million from Draper Fisher, New Enterprise Associates, and Walden International.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? The most direct competition comes from Salesforce.com. The differentiator is that SugarCRM is an open-source offering, but that difference may not be as large as it appears at first glance.

Salesforce.com operates in what could be termed a “mixed-source” environment. According to Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff, the line between open source and proprietary can get pretty blurry. “Many open-source licenses don’t require you to fully release your own source code,” he said. “How far do you have to go to be considered truly open source?”

The answer isn’t clear. Is embracing standards and delivering a solid set of APIs enough, or must you release core source code? It’s a debate most end users don’t care that much about, but those in the developer community can get downright religious about it. According to market-research firm Ovum, SugarCRM makes about two-thirds of its source code available to the open-source community.

Another venue of competition between SugarCRM and Salesforce.com is the fact that each supports an application ecosphere, featuring add-on third-party applications that have already been ported to the underlying CRM platform.

Other CRM vendors, such as Siebel Systems, PeopleSoft, and SAP, must also be taken into account.

Management Team: John Roberts, chairman, CEO and co-founder, previously held product management and sales engineering positions at E.piphany, BroadVision, Baan/Aurum Software and IBM. Clint Oram, GM of Sugar Online and co-founder, formerly worked at E.piphany, Octane Software, Hewlett Packard and PG&E. Jacob Taylor, CTO and co-founder, was formerly senior development manager at E.piphany in charge of platform infrastructure and services.

Prior to joining SugarCRM, Yun-Ping Hsu, VP of engineering, was VP engineering and worldwide support at BroadVision. Lars Nordwall, VP of worldwide sales, previously served in a variety of executive sales and professional services roles with Novell. Lila Tretikov, CIO, previously developed telecom solutions for a number of Fortune 500 customers.

7. OpenAir

Location: Boston, MA

Product or service: OpenAir’s professional services automation (PSA) software helps project-based organizations quantify the nature of each engagement in terms of the resources needed to complete the project and the final value to the organization’s bottom line.

Why it’s innovative: PSA tackles one of those difficult to quantify business processes and attempts to make it measurable and open to automation. How exactly does a service organization measure a project? Simply clocking the time people spend doesn’t capture the full extent of the project, especially when time spent on a less valuable project may impact one of a higher value, nor does time tracking help with planning.

What’s most interesting about OpenAir is how much its value increases when used within an application ecosphere. Delivered as a service, OpenAir’s PSA is part of Salesforce.com’s AppExchange. Since OpenAir is open-source software, customers are free to tailor it to their own in-house or legacy solutions, but OpenAir is most effective when working in concert with Salesforce.com’s SFA and CRM solutions. When a lead is close to being converted to a client, the SFA application seamlessly hands that information off to OpenAir, which then automates the process of devoting the resources required to close the deal, service the project and fulfill the contract.

The software creates revenue and cost estimates for engagements and uses what-if planning scenarios to optimize price, margin, billing rates, and staffing. Access to real-time information and a more granular estimate of each project’s expected profitability help the sales team focus on the highest-probability, highest-margin deals.

The software also includes collaboration, document control, project accounting, and reporting and tracking tools.

What’s their track record? Customers include Adbeam, Stellent, Collaborative Consulting, Opsware, Witness Systems, and Akibia. The company reported 45% year over year revenue growth for the third quarter of 2006. OpenAir’s subscriber base also expanded to more than 26,000 users, and the company says that it has been profitable for twelve consecutive quarters. The company estimates that revenues for 2006 fell in the $6-8 million range.

Funding: OpenAir has raised over $16 million in venture funding from Fidelity Capital, 3i, i-Hatch Ventures, Rex Capital, and angel investors.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? There are a number of PSA vendors out there. Microsoft Project and Primavera qualify as incumbents, while a number of smaller vendors deliver PSA as a service, including Autotask, Intacct, and QuickArrow.

Illuminata’s Haff notes that software as a service is taking off in the open-source sector. Since open source often aims for the mid-market customer overlooked by larger shrink-wrap software providers, delivering the solutions in a way that minimizes in-house IT burdens is both a necessity and a competitive advantage.

Flexibility is another advantage. “Most of these products can be run as in-house applications, but they’re designed so they can be delivered on-demand as services, depending on customer needs,” Haff said.

The features offered by OpenAir are much like traditional PSA offerings from Microsoft Project or Primavera. The difference is that OpenAir is delivered on-demand. Against other PSA vendors employing the SaaS model, such as Autotask and QuickArrow, OpenAir’s main advantage is that it can be closely coupled with Salesforce.com applications. The two companies even partner beyond the software itself, collaborating on lead generation and marketing.

Management Team: Morris Panner, CEO, previously held a number of operational and managerial positions in the U.S. Department of Justice, most recently serving as deputy chief of the narcotics section. Geoff Crawshaw, CTO, previously founded a software development company in Boston.

Tom Brennan, CFO and VP of strategic alliances, was formerly VP of strategic alliances at Prodigy Communications. Ed Marshall, VP of sales and marketing, was previously a management consultant at Bain & Company and at Liberty Mutual.

8. Themis Computer

Location: Fremont, CA

Product or service: Themis Computer’s Quorum product is distributed computing resource management (DCRM) software. DCRM software automates the management of Service Level Agreements (SLAs), applications, and hardware resources in real-time, mission-critical distributed systems. Built to conform to open standards, Quorum supports a variety of platforms including Solaris, Linux, Windows and LynxOS servers, as well as various network switches and SMI-compliant Storage Area Networks.

Other products offered by Themis include rugged servers for operation in harsh environments, as well as VME and Compact PCI single-board computers for telecommunications, military/aerospace, and industrial embedded applications.

Why it’s innovative: Quorum was originally developed to conform to the U.S. Navy’s requirements for its next-generation open combat systems. It didn’t take long for the company to realize that Quorum’s ability to allocate resources in real-time was relevant to the dynamic loads modern data centers experience.

The company’s president and CEO, William Kehret, has described Quorum as the next step beyond virtualization, noting that Quorum gives customers a means for the dynamic allocation of heterogeneous resources based on the real-time implementation of polices.

According to Themis, Quorum’s value rests on its ability to measures application QoS in heterogeneous environments. Measurements can be based on probes that measure how long an application takes to respond, on the length of an application’s work queues, on CPU usage, or whatever is most relevant to the customer.

Quorum supports a Manager-of-Managers architecture that allows a distributed system to be hierarchically associated with a higher-level manager. As a result, a distributed system can be viewed as a single entity and can be integrated as a Quorum managed asset within a larger hierarchical system.

Quorum is a standards-based system built on top of the “Common Information Model / Web Based Enterprise Management” (CIM/WBEM), a DMTF standard. Quorum is also fully compatible with SNMP devices and is extensible to new devices via either SNMP or CIM/WBEM.

What’s their track record? Themis Computer was incorporated in 1989. Although Quorum has been on the market for less than a year, it has been selected for use in Northrop Grumman’s Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) subsystem proposal. Customers for Themis’ embedded computing solutions include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Ericsson and Alcatel.

Funding: Themis is a privately held company. The company is profitable but does not disclose revenue details.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? The grid computing space is a crowded one. Tier-one vendors include IBM, HP, and Sun, all of whom have backed open-standards efforts. The Globus Alliance offers an open-source toolkit for grid development and is backed by a number of industry heavyweights, including IBM, Cisco, HP, and Intel. Sun has a competing open-source grid project called the Grid Engine, and the Open Grid Forum was formed via the merger of two previous grid bodies, the Enterprise Grid Alliance and the Global Grid Forum.

Pure-play grid vendors include Platform Computing and Entropia. Univa, meanwhile, has adopted the Red Hat model, providing support and maintenance for Globus deployments. Meanwhile, it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate grid efforts from virtualization and SOA ones. Vendors in this gray area include DataSynapse and United Devices.

However, Themis is moving away from grid sector, or, at the very least, changing its terminology. While Quorum was originally developed for the real-time management of mission-critical applications within utility grids, the problem with positioning Quorum within the grid sector is that many potential customers don’t differentiate between utility and compute grids. Themis’ focus now is on SOA and virtualization.

Competitors include Veritas, IBM, and VMWare. However, none of the others solutions supports a truly heterogeneous environment. The support of distributed sites is also an issue.

Another competitive advantage for Quorum is its real-time response. The system was designed to manage combat systems, necessitating response times in 100 millisecond cycles. The enterprise version isn’t quite that fast, especially in distributed environments, yet responses are still a second or less.

According to Themis, many resource-sharing and grid solutions allow applications to share resources, but they do a poor job of prioritizing mission-critical applications over less critical ones. As a result, a non-critical application can impact the availability and performance of mission-critical ones. Quorum relies on user-defined policies that guarantee SLAs and assure high availability.

Management Team: William Kehret, president and CEO, Michael Crocker, COO

9. Scalix

Location: San Mateo, CA

Product or service: Scalix offers open-source messaging, calendar, and collaboration products for enterprise environments.

Why it’s innovative: Email applications are the heart of enterprise messaging and the springboard for further collaboration efforts. Scalix has taken pains in the latest release of its platform to extend the typical messaging applications (email, calendar, notes) to other enterprise applications. Taking a Web services approach, Scalix provides SOAP-based APIs for cross-application integration, allowing companies to link their email and calendaring with CRM, content management, ERP, and mobile applications.

For previous Microsoft Exchange customers, Scalix offers a migration application, and for those simply seeking more flexible server-side options, Scalix technology shields end-users who retain Outlook as the client from any changes.

Other email systems support Outlook, but due to the tight integration of Outlook and Exchange, users often notice a lack of functionality. Scalix Connect for Outlook natively supports MAPI and has been designed to provide feature-by-feature compatibility with the full range of functionality offered by Outlook. Additionally, SmartCache technology addresses the needs of mobile and remote users. SmartCache provides automatic offline email caching and retains a client-side copy of the user’s mailbox to avoid any disruptions in the event of network interruptions.

Driving enterprise-grade messaging to the mobile channel will be a must-have feature in the near future. According to Scalix, what hampers the adoption of enterprise-scale email on mobile devices is the fact that it tries to be enterprise-grade. Scalix argues that a full client-server messaging solution is overkill for most users, who simply want access to their inboxes and the ability to read and respond to messages. Scalix Mobile Web Client is a lightweight web interface that runs in any browser and provides basic mailbox access from cell phones, PDAs and hotel set-top boxes.

Finally, Scalix is embracing the application-ecosphere model for furthering adoption. Through its open community and many partnerships, third-party applications can be downloaded that have been fully integrated with Scalix. One such partnership is with SugarCRM (see above). The two offer an integrated, server-to-server CRM and messaging solution. Other add-on applications include antivirus, archiving and compliance, backup and restore, and performance monitoring applications.

What’s their track record? According to the company, more than 500 enterprise customers have deployed their software, which equates to over one million mailboxes and more than 10,000 deployed email servers. Customers include Rezidor Hotel Group, Concordia Bus, the city of Weymouth, MA, and Catawba College.

Funding: Scalix has raised $19.2 million in two funding rounds from Mayfield, New Enterprise Associates, and Mohr, Davidow Ventures. The company is in the process of raising a new round of funding.

What are the major obstacles to overcome? While Scalix shouldn’t expect to compete directly with Microsoft Exchange Server, there are enough Microsoft dissenters out there to constitute a solid market. Unfortunately, IBM’s Lotus Notes/Domino has already captured much of that market.

As for open-source options, Scalix isn’t the only game in town. While Novell’s GroupWise isn’t open source, many will confuse it as such due to Novell’s commitment to Linux. Novell’s open-source NetMail messaging and calendaring solution evolved into Project Hula. Messaging Architects acquired NetMail and took over the leadership of Project Hula in late January. Adding to the confusion is Novell’s partnering agreement with Microsoft, and what that will mean when it comes to messaging is anyone’s guess. Scalix’ most direct competition comes from Zimbra and OpenXchange.

Management Team: Glenn Winokur, president and CEO, was previously COO of NetIQ. Phil Lavery, VP of sales and business development, formerly worked at Microsoft, where he held senior management positions in sales, marketing, business development, and channel management.

Jim Docherty, VP of EMEA sales, was formerly NetIQ’s VP of EMEA sales. Walter Lim, VP of finance, was previously corporate controller and senior director of finance operations for Informatica. Jim Black, VP of product development, was formerly VP of engineering at Critical Path.

10. Incumbents and Dealmakers

We’re early in 2007 and already major deals have been struck that further validate Linux and open source for the enterprise. This follows on the heels of an active 2006. In January, Wal-Mart threw its weight behind the Microsoft-Novell partnership. Microsoft will deliver SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscription certificates to Wal-Mart for use in Wal-Mart’s IT infrastructure, while assuring the integration with other Windows products.

Whether you love or hate the Microsoft-Novell alliance, one side benefit is some actual momentum towards interoperability. The Interop Vendor Alliance was launched in November. It includes Microsoft, Novell, Sun, Red Hat, EMC, Citrix, and many others.

Other incumbents making open source news include IBM, Sun, and Oracle. IBM introduced its open-source desktop this month. The desktop will run Lotus applications on top of a Red Hat or SUSE Linux OS. Sun has committed itself to creating an open-source version of Java. The company says that it will deliver a version of Java based almost completely on open-sourced code during the first half of this year, and it released the first components in November.

Late last year, Oracle validated the Red Hat model and quickly tried to steal its market share by offering Oracle the same class of support for Red Hat Linux that it provides for its database, middleware and applications products. Oracle previously partnered directly with Red Hat for this.

Despite the threat from Oracle, Red Hat remains the most active and innovative major Linux player. Its acquisition of middleware provider JBoss accelerates Red Hat’s ability to deliver SOA-based offerings.

According to Brian Stevens, CTO of Red Hat, future innovations being developed include application-to-application messaging, better real-time predictability to guarantee transaction times, additional security features, and additional virtualization efforts.

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