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We Pick Our Privates

Brrrr! It's cold out there. But indoors, in the editorial offices of Byte and Switch, the kettle's on, the chestnuts are roasting, and the Top Ten Private Companies list is blazing bright as Grandpa's Yule log.

As the flakes fall outside, we recall that when we last revised this list, the snow had just melted. So had the IT spending freeze a bit, at least. The storage networking market looked flush, and there was talk of several IPOs.

The talk was premature. When subsystem player Xyratex Ltd. (Nasdaq: XRTX) went public in June to a lower opening than it had hoped for, other companies pulled their plans (see Xyratex Swims in Public Pool and Xyratex Has No IPO Regrets). Chief among these was SAN maker Engenio Information Technologies Inc., which put its IPO in reverse once it caught the discouraging drift (see Engenio Gets Cold Feet).

Despite all this, it's been a banner year for startup funding, even as IT budgets remain constrained (see Storage Startups Top $500M). In this environment, customers are looking for innovations that will help them streamline storage and trim operating costs, even as data volumes grow. Hence, our emphasis in this Wintertime Top Ten is on management software, clustered storage and filing systems, tools for remote access, and other products that make storage easier to use in a more complicated world.

To review, our basic criteria for consideration are as follows. Each company must be:

  • Privately held
  • Have shipping products
  • Name revenue-producing customers
  • 1