2005’s Cool Vendors in Emerging Trends and Technologies

Gartner, a market research company, has tapped seven small technology providers it says have the right stuff to be cool. Anne-Marie Roussel, research vice president and "Cool Vendors" lead Gartner analyst, says these companies share three attributes: innovative, enabling users to do things they couldn't do before; impactful, because have, or will have, business impact; and, intriguing, mainly because Gartner noticed them.

Gartner analysts say XenSource, a new software company formed to promote the Xen hypervisor, is possibly Microsoft's greatest challenge. The hypervisor is a thin layer of software that runs at the hardware level of a system. This thin layer of open-source software allows for operating systems to run on top of it, thus fully emulating the system platform and thereby allowing multiple operating environments to run in parallel on a single system.

"XenSource's technology threatens to loosen Microsoft's grip on the PC market, and open up the PC for non-MS software that runs in conjunction with Windows," says Martin Reynolds, group vice president and Gartner Fellow. "It's like an operating system for operating systems, and it can run multiple environments simultaneously."

Hypervisors provide the necessary security and partitioning to run multiple operating environments in parallel on a single system. "Hypervisors will pervade all computing environments during the next five years, improving security, flexibility and manageability," Reynolds says. "Hypervisors are critical to reducing hardware management costs, drawing maximum value from IT investments and building massively scalable systems.

Exavera Technologies, Dust Networks and Impinji have technologies important to the development of sensor networks and location technologies. "Sensor networks will drive the number of network-connected devices up by one or two orders of magnitude during the next decade," according to Reynolds. "The companies are all developing intellectual property and market segments that will naturally draw them to location-aware networks."

ZealCore is a company that has tools that can assist in debugging complex software environments. These tools are important when implementing service-oriented architectures. Gartner analysts say these new architectures will be needed to deal with the data provided by sensor networks.

Teranode is a company that applies design automation to life sciences. Its technology allows scientists to better understand biochemical reactions. "Life sciences will continue to represent an IT frontier for many years to come, and controlling the costs of teasing knowledge from complex systems will be a critical factor in advancing IT in life sciences," says Carol Rozwell, vice president and research director at Gartner.

Clairvoyante has innovative display technologies that can deliver more visual information at lower costs, improving the ways in which people interact with computers. The company has developed enhanced technologies enabling LCDs to use fewer pixel cells to deliver identical visual resolutions. These LCD panels will become more power-efficient and less costly to make. The high-resolution displays could one day allow users to use electronic displays more efficiently than paper hard copy, Gartner says.