In the first part of our CIO Summer Special of vendors CIO should keep an eye on we noted 10 interesting companies that came our way recently (building on 20 previous companies listed  at the end of 2009). Here’s another 10 that we think are worth your while based on meetings, expert views, funding, management, common sense, gut feeling and one other ingredient we are not liberty to discuss...

Any company that challenges the lucrative status quo is worth watching and with its Ubuntu Linux distribution, Canonical is challenging one of the great franchises in software history: Microsoft Windows. Ubuntu has become established as the simplest-to-use desktop Linux for many organisations (and hardware vendors) where Windows might appear pricey and overkill. Of course, PC makers are also looking at Google Android and other systems but if Ubuntu can make itself the free PC OS of choice for even a base set of configurations, tasks and workloads, it stands to become a new power broker. It won’t hurt either that the company is well funded and recently hired media-hugging blogger extraordinaire Matt Asay as COO.

Motion Computing
Started by ex-Dell executives, Motion’s mission is a bold one: to make the tablet PC format the success many people have for decades been predicting it will be. With Apple now validating the model, companies like Motion that have experience in the sector might get a lift.

Magic Software
Magic has been around for a long time but its plan for cloud computing are persuasive and could put it back in the spotlight. Most big cloud migrations will leave a ton of legacy integration work to do and require a huge amount of repurposing of applications and infrastructure, and persuading reluctant executives, staff and so on. Magic says the answer is the Hybrid Cloud: essentially an application platform that lets you take baby steps towards the cloud rather than performing a cut-and-shut.

With Vista having been such thin gruel for Microsoft partners, concerns over old hardware, security and unsupported versions of Windows should override even the duff economy and make Windows 7 a popular choice. And with Win7 migrations likely to go from trickle to stream over the next year, specialists like Camwood stand to benefit by providing consulting services around deployment options, application porting and change processes.

Is someone creating knock-offs of your carefully nurtured brand and flogging them at a fraction of the price online? Or conning people with domain names that resemble your own? You could do worse than call in MarkMonitor, a boutique specialist in brand protection on the web -- and many people do just that. With a classic niche outsourcing sell, and good marketing too, this is a nice company that should grow organically for years to come -- if a big consultancy doesn’t snap it up, that is.


The most interesting product developed recently by Microsoft Research for my money is the SenseCam, a wearable automated camera that captures your day by snapping away every 30 seconds. Vicon has licensed the design and markets it as a device for helping patients suffering from memory loss but leisure applications (‘lifeblogging’, for example) and some surprises will surely come along.

The curiously named company has been all-guns-blazing with its marketing recently, capitalising on the price of electricity and eco concerns to tout its range of energy-saving power management programs. The only surprise is that it has not been snapped up by some systems management giant or other predator.

GIS and mapping software gained a big boost in awareness wit the advent of Google Maps and mashups that let users drill down on geographical data. That might spur interest in the grown-up version of a sector that has never blossomed in the way some pundits predicted. If it does, ESRI is well positioned.

Scale Computing.
Companies that can make sense of enterprise storage systems that have spiralled out of control are in demand. That’s no surprise given that corporate governance mandates, Freedom of Information rules, web page count growth, rich media types and business intelligence deployments are putting more emphasis on storing more and then interrogat the resulting mess. Scale Computing is a startup that offers storage in incremental bricks for SMBs and is emblematic of the many companies seeking to address this challenge.

Virtual Instruments.
When every millisecond counts in data performance you’re going to need to look at I/O transactions, which in turn means deep, deep instrumentation of heterogeneous storage networks, virtualised abstraction layers and yet more complexity lying somewhere among the many moving parts that make up your sprawling IT infrastructure. Virtual Instruments is a company that is building a smart reputation in automating the compute equivalent of stripping down large engines to check component parts aren’t slowing the vehicle down. The recent appointment of ex-Symantec CEO John Thompson to lead the company is a significant endorsement.