12 hot companies to watch

The demand for greater efficiency drives federal agencies’ IT plans these days. The cloud-first directive, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative and the Digital Government Strategy speak to the need for streamlined operations, cost cutting and improved data management. Such efforts, in turn, place an emphasis on technologies that help agencies ease administrative burdens and get the most value out of their data holdings.

Accordingly, this year’s list of companies to watch features suppliers of products and services in fields such as cloud computing, data analytics and mobile device management. Unlike the revenue-oriented lists in this issue, the 12 companies below were selected based on such market-momentum factors as being added to federal contract vehicles and business partner activity.

Big data/analytics

Discovering critical patterns in ever-growing stores of data has become a crucial task for large enterprises, including government agencies. In the big data and analytics category, Cloudera and SAS Institute have made important inroads in the federal sector.

Cloudera offers a leading distribution of Hadoop, the Apache open-source project that provides a framework for processing massive datasets across arrays of computers. Cloudera offers CDH, its Hadoop distribution, and Cloudera Enterprise, which bundles CDH, a management tool and technical support.

In the government sector, Cloudera is getting a boost from solutions provider Carahsoft Technology, which announced a partnership in August to offer Cloudera’s Hadoop software and services through Carahsoft’s General Services Administration schedule contract.

Government integrators large and small have been training engineers to become certified developers under the Cloudera Certified Developer for Apache Hadoop program. In another federal move, Cloudera has established offices in Tysons Corner, Va., and dedicated a team of engineers to providing concept development to federal users.

Those steps could further broaden the appeal of the company, which has cultivated a niche in the intelligence community. In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit organization that identifies technologies for the CIA and other intelligence agencies, is among Cloudera’s investors.

SAS, which targets the business analytics space with software and services, has captured a number of government deals in recent months. In a project announced in June, the Air Force tapped SAS Enterprise BI Server and JMP statistical discovery software to manage the care of patients enrolled in the Air Force Medical Service’s Patient-Centered Medical Home.

In other recent moves, IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chose the SAS Fraud Framework for Government, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT tapped SAS to help develop the Health IT Dashboard. Treasury Department customers buying SAS products include the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

The company also expanded its technology and consulting partnerships with Accenture, Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, Teradata and Greenplum, a division of EMC.

Cloud/virtualization

Many agencies are looking to the cloud to help them comply with various federal mandates to consolidate and streamline operations, and virtualization is often the first step to getting there. Not surprisingly, companies that provide cloud services and those that manage virtualized environments are in demand. Among them are Carpathia Hosting and SolarWinds.

Carpathia Hosting offers cloud, hosting and colocation services; it targets the federal market through Carpathia Government Solutions. Federal customers represent more than 40 percent of the company’s hosting business. It is now investing in compliant data center space, operational support and increased sales initiatives.

This year, Carpathia has added several branches of the Defense Department to its roster of customers, along with new civilian and Cabinet-level agencies, higher education customers, and systems integrators. As for federal partnering, Carpathia Government Solutions teamed with three of the nine winners of GSA’s Infrastructure as a Service blanket purchase agreement.

Carpathia is gearing up for future growth. In February, officials announced plans to build a 64,000-square-foot data center in Northern Virginia. The center will provide colocation, managed and cloud services that comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act, the DOD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process, and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. The company is partnering with data center operator Equinix to construct the IBX Vault facility.

SolarWinds specializes in products that help customers monitor cloud-based applications and virtualized infrastructures. Other products target data center and compliance issues, which are also important in the federal sector.

Earlier this year, company officials said their Orion suite of IT management products had achieved Common Criteria certification, which opens the products to federal IT users who need to run their applications in national security systems environments.

SolarWinds’ defense customers include the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program. The Federal Aviation Administration, Agriculture Department and U.S. Postal Service are among the company’s civilian customers.

Content management

The Obama administration’s Digital Government Strategy, which debuted in May, calls for agencies to better coordinate their website management efforts via centralized processes and systems. That’s where content management systems come in, and Aquilent and Phase2 Technology are among the busiest federal players.

One of Aquilent’s core areas of focus is enterprise content management. The company — which forecasts 50 percent year-over-year growth in staff, revenue and profit — provides strategy consulting, product evaluation, design and integration services around deploying content management systems.

The company’s new customers and projects include several at HHS. Aquilent is working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to deliver a Web-based content management system for Medicare.gov. Other work includes projects for USPS, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Science Foundation.

In the federal Web presence and content management areas, Aquilent has recently formed strategic partnerships with Percussion Software and Acquia.

Phase2 focuses on Web application development services and large-scale content platforms for public-sector and other segments. In the content management space, the company has carved out a niche as a deployer of the popular Drupal open-source content management system.

This year, the company has been migrating numerous Energy Department offices onto the Drupal platform following the 2011 launch of Energy.gov. Another recent development is the release of DHS.gov on OpenPublic, a Drupal-based distribution tailored for government that Phase2 developed and maintains.

In March, the company merged with Treehouse Agency, which also builds Drupal websites for government customers. The company’s partners include Acquia, Carahsoft, Phase One, Development Seed and List Innovation Solutions.

IT security

IT security is a perennial area of demand in the federal market. Cloud-based security and security appliances are two approaches gaining traction as cost-effective and readily deployable solutions. Companies making federal moves in this arena include Kloudtrack and Sourcefire.

Kloudtrack provides a governance, risk management and compliance tool based on a software-as-a-service model. Earlier this year, it announced an initiative to work with agencies to ensure that their SaaS-based deployments in that area conform to FedRAMP guidelines.

This year, the company pursued a variety of projects with the Defense Information Systems Agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, VA, DHS, DOD, NASA and the intelligence community.

Kloudtrack has also been building its government sales channel. The company now has relationships with Cisco Systems, immixGroup, PC Mall Gov, GovConnection, Microsoft, ZT Systems, Arkay Engineering, ManTech International, Reflection Technologies, Vastec and Dovel Technologies.

Sourcefire makes security software and appliances that focus on protecting against intrusions and malware. This year, the company closed a number of deals with federal customers, including agencies in defense support, health care, financial regulation and law enforcement. In the company’s second quarter, which ended in June, Sourcefire reported federal-sector revenue growth of 43 percent compared with the same period in 2011.

In August, Sourcefire said its next-generation intrusion-prevention systems had been added to DOD’s Unified Capabilities Approved Products List, which DISA describes as a consolidated list of products that have achieved interoperability and information assurance certification.

Mobile device management

Interest in mobile device management has expanded rapidly alongside the growing use of tablet PCs and smart phones at federal agencies. GSA has been tapped to establish a governmentwide mobile device management platform as part of the Digital Government Strategy. AirWatch and BoxTone rank among the companies that stand to benefit from the government’s desire to tame the influx of mobile devices.

AirWatch has positioned itself in the mobile device, application and content management space and relies on partnerships with government contractors to sell its wares to federal agencies. It also offers products through the GSA schedules and NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) contract.

BoxTone also covers mobile device and application management, along with mobile support and mobile operations management, and has more than 40 public-sector customers. This year, the company has worked with IRS, DHS, VA, DOE, USPS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the federal courts. Military customers include the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Army’s Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, Navy Strategic Systems Programs, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Recent alliance partners include Carahsoft, Good Technology, SRA International, Hewlett-Packard and CSC. BoxTone has been added to the GSA schedules through Carahsoft.

Storage

Agencies find themselves in a perpetual struggle to house growing stores of data and keep tabs on storage systems that affect application performance. DataDirect Networks (DDN) and Virtual Instruments provide technologies that address those concerns in the federal market.

DDN sells storage appliances geared to big data and cloud applications. High-performance computing customers in the government market include the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

The company’s products have been added to eight federal purchasing vehicles this fiscal year, including NASA’s SEWP IV, the Army’s Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-2 Hardware and the Air Force’s Network-Centric Solutions 2.

DDN has also established or expanded partnerships with 15 companies, including CSC and Dell. DDN’s federal division sales are on track to double from 2011 totals, according to the company. Meanwhile, the number of federal division employees has expanded 125 percent in the past 12 months.

Virtual Instruments tracks storage-area network traffic to improve the performance of virtualized applications. The government is one of six vertical market segments the company pursues.

Federal customers include DOE, DHS, IRS and NASA. Government-oriented channel partners include FCN Technology Solutions, Iron Bow Technologies and Vion.

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