Industry awards are always fascinating to judge, to contemplate, to examine.

Some awards are based on fixed numerical rankings, the best-known of which might be the Fortune 500. Others are subjective polls by the members of an organization, such as the 76-year-old Academy Awards, produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The SD Times 100 awards, now in its second year, falls somewhere between the Fortune 500 and the Oscars. The judges-the editors and writers of the newspaper-draw upon their knowledge of industry trends, developer needs, emerging technologies, market positions and recent innovations to determine the current leaders of the software development industry.

This approach, focused on leadership and innovation, makes the SD Times 100 truly reflective of the companies that are making the biggest wave and the biggest difference to developers today, and are most strongly influencing the future direction of platforms, tools, run-times and other emerging aspects of software development.

Because the SD Times 100 doesn’t focus on numbers-market share, market capitalization, new products announced, number of patents-we can look at the real thought leaders, as well as those who are driving the industry through sheer strength of investment and market dominance.

A big company can demonstrate that it’s still on top of the game and setting a broad industry agenda. A small company gaining traction on a great idea can displace a larger, deeply entrenched player that’s seemingly stuck in neutral gear.

When examining awards of this sort, or like the Fortune 500, it’s always revealing to see who’s new on the list, such as Open Source Development Labs, Novell and the Web Services Interoperability Organization.

It’s even more revealing to see who’s not on the current list. Found on last year’s SD Times 100, but not on this year’s, are 27 companies and organizations. In some cases, companies fell off the list because they were acquired, such as TogetherSoft or Rational. In other cases, we felt they failed to either lead or innovate. There is no overall top prize at the SD Times 100. The awards aren’t ranked, so there’s no equivalent to a Fortune 1 company or an Oscar-winning “Best Picture” that can serve as first among equals.

Yet if we were to recognize a single entity, it would likely be a company that many would prefer instead to ignore: The SCO Group.

It’s been a long ride for Caldera, which bought the SCO name and UnixWare assets from the Santa Cruz Operation in 2001. While the company burbled about intellectual property in 2002, last year it exploded onto the scene with its inflammatory lawsuits. The challenges against the legitimacy of open-source software, and demands that enterprise Linux users buy UnixWare licenses, sparked fevered debate, potentially dampening the industry’s enthusiasm.

Will SCO succeed? Will it drive enterprise buyers to Sun’s Solaris, Microsoft’s Windows or SCO’s UnixWare? Do its IP lawsuits protect innovation, or stifle it? Many questions, few answers. Let’s see if it’s on next year’s SD Times 100. For now, though, let’s see who else is worth mentioning for this year’s SD Times 100.

Continue to the first Best in Show: Collaboration
Previous Winners
Looking for SD Times winners from previous years? Select from the list below: