November 30, 2009, 9:10 AM — Editor's note: Starting Nov. 30, we'll reveal two this year's IT Management Companies to Watch per day, through Dec. 4. So stay tuned (and if you get antsy waiting, check out last year's list)
IT operations teams short on staff and budget dollars this past year have turned to myriad management technologies to deliver optimized services in increasingly virtualized and cloud computing-oriented environments. Quite a few of those technologies come from relative newcomers to the industry, and we've rounded up profiles on 10 of them worth watching into the new year.
Company: Windmill Networks
Founded: April 2007
Headquarters: Huntsville, Ala.
Focus: Windmill Integration Manager (WIM) installs as a VMware virtual appliance that includes a data correlation engine, which translates and reconciles information collected from multiple third-party management applications. WIM would highlight the configuration inconsistencies between tools and potentially point to configuration or other errors that could prevent future performance problems. The software also enables network managers to make a change in one application and have it propagated across many tools, the company says.
Why it's worth watching: Industry watchers say Windmill is filling a gap in many network managers' tool boxes, which would help to reduce labor and time spent configuring devices and applications. Much research has shown that many performance degradations and actual failures occur due to configuration errors.
"This tool provides a common, single interface to do configuration work and moves, adds and changes," says Enterprise Management Associates Research Director Jim Frey. "The technology would be ideal for IT managers not wanting to invest in a full-blown enterprise-scale, network change and configuration management product, which typically encompasses a lot more capabilities around compliance, for instance. Not every department needs the full-blown product."
How company got its start: Former Cisco network management employee saw the need to better manage device configurations across large networks, solving a common and critical IT manager frustration.
How company got its name: As for the company name being based on a Don Quixote reference to "tilting at windmills," or in layman's terms fighting an unwinnable battle, founders say it's a light-hearted take on a serious problem across the IT industry: Making applications from multiple vendors work smoothly together.
CEO: Fred Gray, also co-founder and CTO, previously spent 10 years at Cisco, specializing in operational and network management issues for enterprise and service provider customers.
Funding: Seed round of $500,000 from private investors.