Hacking Enterprise IT: Introducing The Pittsburgh-Based Enterprise IT Startups

Hacking Enterprise IT: Introducing The Pittsburgh-Based Enterprise IT Startups

Note: As a former IBM Architect who loves startups, my sweet spot of the moment is enterprise IT startups (like the one I work for presently).  I don’t talk about them as often on this blog as I’d for two reasons.  First, they’re not that sexy because 95% of the world (those not making their living in IT) will never ever use them.  Second, there just aren’t that many of them, enterprise IT is a big boys game.  The game is changing though, it has to.  The world of IT is changing too fast for the big boys to keep up with the levels of innovation that the new enterprise will demand, startups will have to play in the space.  So, to fill this need I’m going to devote one day a week (Mondays) to Enterprise IT Startups.  I will try to keep the conversation at a level that technical readers can enjoy, whether or not they work in Enterprise IT.

The field of enterprise IT has always had a special place in its heart for Pittsburgh.  The city is the home of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and the institution that spawned it, CMU.  Over the years there have been a number of enterprise IT startups that have sprung up in Pittsburgh and I thought since I’m doing this “Hacking Enterprise IT” section on Mondays that I should probably discuss a few of them.  I’m going to limit my focus to companies that are based on a product (this means I’m staying away from service companies, even though there are several good ones in Pittsburgh).  Not just any product that the enterprise would use, but one the IT department would be using (so a company that makes software for supply chain management wouldn’t count because even though the enterprise might use it, the IT organization doesn’t).  Right now I’m aware of five Pittsburgh startups in the space:

  • POW Solutions – Short for Power Optimized Workloads creates unique software for matching workloads to the infrastructure that is currently available to run in efficiently.  The company is not quite a real company yet as it is hiring and preparing to spin out of CMU.  The company is being founded based on the research of Dr. Mor Harchol-Balter from CMU Comp Sci and they appear to have a partnership of some sort with Intel or Intel capital.  I’ll write more about them once I hear it.
  • Vivisimo is one of the Pittsburgh startup scene’s success stories.  Formed in 2000 by CMU computer science researchers, it helps companies index their information and make it searchable on the web (or intranet).  They were originally funded by Innovation Works, but (to my knowledge) haven’t raised funding since early 2008 when they received an institutional round lead by North Atlantic Capital out of Portland, ME.  When I was working for IBM I actually recommended Vivisimo to clients and they are responsible for the search portion of USA.gov, all around an exciting company to have here in the Burgh.
  • Avere Systems is a producer of highly scalable network attached storage (NAS) solutions.  The team is a group with experience from NetApp (and Vivisimo) who clearly had a brilliant solution in mind.  I do not know anyone who has experience using Avere systems, but they do present a pretty compelling case study.
  • Panasas is another storage company.  This one focused on leveraging parallel storage to produce ridiculously fast read/write rates.  There newest system may well be the fastest commercially available one with data rates up to 150 GB/s.
  • Inmedius specializes in content management solutions (CMS).  They have been around since 1995 and over the last couple years have been acquiring a couple of their competitors.

Anyone know of any that I missed?  Work for one of these and want to fill in some more details?