Adatao
What They Do:
Big Data BI
Why We’re Watching: Adatao approaches Big Data in a different way than other companies by trying to bring data intelligence to all. It promises to bring us into Big Data 2.0, a world of Big Data focused on the user, rather than data scientists and engineers. Its products present data visually, making it easy to interact with and consume Big Data in a natural, collaborative way.

Two Tap
What They Do:
Mobile checkouts
Why We’re Watching: Two Tap wants to transform online shopping. The company’s API provides a fully integrated, scalable, secure and automated checkout solution for developers to implement into their applications. It enables consumers to purchase any product on any mobile application or website without having to go to the retailer’s website. The checkout solution supports desktop, mobile and wearable platforms, and is already implemented in more than 200 various retailers. With a recently announced US$2.7 million seed round, the company will continue its mission to radically simplify online shopping.

UserVoice
What They Do:
Online helpdesk platform
Why We’re Watching: UserVoice integrates feedback, a helpdesk and knowledgebase-management tools into an all-in-one customer-support platform. For expanding enterprises, UserVoice software scales elastically with a multi-agent ticketing system that mimics the user experience of e-mail, pulling data from social media, billing, and CRM systems.

OutSystems
What They Do:
Enterprise PaaS
Why We’re Watching: In a world where PaaSes are dropping like flies, the OutSystems Platform has proved it has staying power. With the ability to use Eclipse and Visual Studio IDEs to reuse existing Java and C# code, the open platform provides a visual dashboard to design user interfaces and model APIs for responsive cross-platform mobile apps.

Illiri
What They Do:
Audio API software
Why We’re Watching: There are many ways to go about device connectivity, but no one does it quite like Illiri. The company’s SAPI API offers an alternative of sorts to near-field communication by establishing ad hoc connections between devices, or a large network using plain audio signals. Illiri offers SAPI to developers for free, but the company is exploring a variety of consumer-facing applications, including mobile payments, gaming and social media.

Hazelcast
What They Do:
In-memory data grid
Why We’re Watching: In a crowded in-memory database market, where Oracle, SAP and others have entered the game, Hazelcast distinguishes itself by offering not just a data grid, but a message queue with metadata for each operation in the queue. Hazelcast CEO Greg Luck has also been integral in completing the JCache specification, and the Java-based open-source data distribution platform allows developers to quickly access data and modify it without the need to write it back to disk.

Piston Cloud
What They Do:
OpenStack orchestration
Why We’re Watching: Created by several OpenStack founders, Piston Cloud has cornered the market on OpenStack orchestration with Piston OpenStack, which automates the entire orchestration of private enterprise cloud environments with AWS-like capabilities. Piston OpenStack gives developers and IT administrators an easy path to standing up new servers and deploying new code by managing a group of servers as a single pool of elastic and scalable computing resources, improving data center efficiency to keep up with the rapidly accelerating application development process.

HashiCorp
What They Do:
IDE creation
Why We’re Watching: The company behind Vagrant, its co-creator Mitchell Hashimoto founded HashiCorp back in 2012, and the company has steadily added to its tool portfolio with offerings like Packer, Consul, Serf and Terraform. But it all comes back to Vagrant, the open-source tool for configuring lightweight, portable development environments that is still on the cutting edge of streamlined workflows and automation.

CenturyLink
What They Do:
Telecommunications, but we care because of Panamax
Why We’re Watching: It’s rare that a telco provider makes it onto this list, but CenturyLink’s acquisition of PaaS company AppFog in 2012 has resulted in Panamax, a service description and templating tool that allows developers and DevOps teams to design large-scale, multi-tier deployments with Docker images. Panamax is designed to make Docker orchestration tools like Fleet and Kubernetes easier to use and transport in hosted enterprise cloud environments.