Creative minds at work. That could be the sign hanging over any of the 22 companies and organizations listed in our inaugural Companies to Watch list.

The origins of this list are simple, and to be honest, we’re smacking our collective heads at not kicking this off sooner. Every year, while compiling the SD Times 100, the editors discuss and debate every significant company and organization in the software development industry. We start with a huge list, collected both from our internal research and from reader nominations. The challenge is to whittle that big list down to one hundred.

The SD Times 100 (which you can read in our June issue) recognizes the top innovators and leaders in the industry. As we discuss and debate, sometimes we’ll say about a company, “They’re not ready yet, but they’re one to watch for next year.”

This year, we did something different. We wrote down those “ones to watch” and decided to revisit them in a few months. In late summer, we looked through the list, crossed some out, and added a few new entries. Et voilà: The Companies to Watch: 2013.

Every one of the 22 companies listed here is an innovator whose technology is emerging, impactful and growing in influence—but which didn’t make the final cut for the 2012 SD Times 100.

Some have been around for a while. ActiveState, for example, is well known for its development tools for scripting languages like PHP and Tcl. Recently, however, ActiveState has begun to transform itself with technology for dynamic languages, and that makes it a company to watch.

Others are much newer—so new, in fact, that we’re not sure how things will turn out. JustOne Computing launched in January 2011 with its NewSQL relational database architecture. There’s plenty of buzz about JustOneDB, and it’s deserving of your attention.

Which companies are you watching? Write us at
What They Do: MongoDBCompanies to watch 2013
Why We’re Watching: Far and away the most popular of the NoSQL solutions, MongoDB has won developers’ hearts and minds, thanks to ease of use and lack of schema.

What They Do: Stackato
Why We’re Watching: While their IDEs are interesting, it’s Stackato, their on-premise PaaS offering, that makes ActiveState interesting. Private PaaS hasn’t taken off yet, but ActiveState is already ahead of the curve.

What They Do: NoSQL
Why We’re Watching: Membase was mildly interesting, and CouchDB was exciting technology. Now the two come together this fall in version 2.0, making Couchbase an interesting database company to watch.

Drawn to Scale
What They Do: Spire
Why We’re Watching: Spire brings SQL and real-time querying to Hadoop, thus solving two of the largest problems for the platform at the same time.

Exo Platform
What They Do: Cloud IDE
Why We’re Watching: While Exo is an interesting content-management platform, it’s the Web-based Cloud IDE that has captured our attention.
What They Do: Social document sharing
Why We’re Watching: Making SharePoint faster and easier to use is a surefire way to become relevant. Their ability to enhance Google Docs and mobile platforms makes them a company to keep an eye on.

What They Do: Hadoop 2.0
Why We’re Watching: The standard bearer for the next generation of Apache Hadoop, Hortonworks is the gatekeeper to moving the project beyond Map/Reduce.

What They Do: OpenSolaris fork
Why We’re Watching: ZFS, Zones and DTrace are all here in an operating system that actually got a shot in the arm when Oracle threw it overboard.

What They Do: Distributed Object-Store-as-a-Service
Why We’re Watching: The Ceph project is an innovative approach to cloud-based storage; the unification of object, block and file storage in one system brings new thinking to cloud databases.

JustOne Database
What They Do: Relational “NewSQL” database for Big Data
Why We’re Watching: The company’s reinvention of the relational database turns PostgreSQL upside-down to get rid of indexes, partitions and schema transformations—and allows queries directly against the datastore.

New Relic
What They Do: Real-time application-performance management
Why We’re Watching: The company offers very sophisticated slicing and dicing of users, servers and applications, with the goal of offering proactive, predictive alerting. There’s no trendy buzzword, just solid monitoring of the stack.

Nexenta Systems
What They Do: Configurable storage management for DevOps
Why We’re Watching: Developers may not know Open Storage ZFS, but Unix administrators know that it’s a fast, scalable storage platform. The company builds on ZFS for hardware-agnostic management of local and cloud storage.
NimbulaCompanies to watch 2013
What They Do: Tools for building and managing clouds
Why We’re Watching: The Nimbula Director system automates the creation of public, private and hybrid clouds for DevOps, with a special focus on implementing Hadoop-based Big-Data storage in those clouds.

What They Do: Chef-based cloud automation
Why We’re Watching: OpsCode leverages Chef, a well-regarded open-source automation system, to apply zesty “recipes” for server configuration. Using Chef, it’s easy to spool up preconfigured clouds ready for Big Data or other tasks.

Piston Cloud Computing
What They Do: Support for OpenStack cloud framework
Why We’re Watching: OpenStack is an increasingly popular framework for implementing cloud-computing architecture; Piston Cloud Computing is evolving OpenStack while offering their own implementation for enterprise deployments.

Puppet Labs
What They Do: IT configuration management software
Why We’re Watching: As DevOps reaches critical mass, Puppet Labs has taken a popular open-source tool and is making it an enterprise-ready platform on which developers can easily roll out their own environments for pre-deployment testing.

What They Do: Cloud-based testing solutions
Why We’re Watching: PushToTest couples open-source testing tools with professional services to orchestrate agile, load and performance testing in the cloud for more reliable applications.

Revolution Analytics
What They Do: Big-Data predictive analytics
Why We’re Watching: Revolution Analytics has built a MapReduce solution on top of the open-source R programming language to give organizations looking to tackle Big-Data issues a way to analyze information to drive businesses forward.

What They Do: Cloud management
Why We’re Watching: They’ve created Agility Platform, which enables organizations to manage their application life cycles on a project-by-project or companywide basis through policy-based definitions and enforcement.

What They Do: Analytics for developers
Why We’re Watching: This company’s solution gives developers visibility into production systems, helping them solve application problems more quickly and be better able to support applications in production.

What They Do: Open-source networking
Why We’re Watching: By providing network support for virtual devices in use in VMware, as well as Xen and XenServer by Citrix, Vyatta enables companies to quickly deploy the network configuration they need into and out of the cloud.

What They Do: Elastic MySQL cloud database
Why We’re Watching: The company offers an “always-on” Database-as-a-Service for MySQL applications, designed to replace MySQL databases by being massively scalable and highly available.