The Top 10 Innovators Of 2011

From cloud computing to IT security to advanced networking, these are the executives pushing the envelope to deliver hot new technology into the waiting hands of solution providers.

Here’s a look at the Top 10 Innovators Of 2011, from CRN’s Top 100 Executives list.

10. Dirk Gates

Founder, CEO

With Xirrus, Gates focuses on firepower. Xirrus flips the script on WLAN competitors by giving more bang for the buck, estimating that companies can use 75 percent fewer devices than with competitive wireless LANs. And Xirrus' launch of its first official partner program last year will bring Gates' vision to the channel.

9. Ken Xie


As founder and CEO of Fortinet, Xie kick-started the unified threat management landscape, making its FortiGate line of products a go-to to lock down the network. Fortinet is the true second act for Xie, a security visionary whose meteoric rise to fame was catalyzed by his founding of NetScreen, which was acquired by Juniper for $4 billion in 2004.

8. Mark McLaughlin

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto's McLaughlin, who previously served as VeriSign's chief, is poised to take the fast-growing network security upstart to the next level with his penchant for focusing on innovative new products and the value of the channel in getting them to market. Partners say he "gets the channel" and McLaughlin intends to prove it.

7. Pat Gelsinger

President, COO

Gelsinger is not only leading EMC's huge channel charge and pushing the storage mainstay to broaden and expand its partner base, he's also the mastermind behind EMC's bold plan to dominate the storage industry by leveraging Intel processors – Gelsinger is a former Intel man, himself -- to offer best-in-class solutions with unbeatable price/performance.

6. Selina Lo

Ruckus Wireless

Lo has kept Ruckus Wireless and its ZoneFlex line of WLAN gear one step ahead of the competition and has kept VARs excited with profitable partner programs. Ruckus' continuing successes and its movement into the enterprise space from an SMB upbringing prove it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the amount fight in the dog.

5. Andy Miller


Before taking Polycom's top spot in 2009, Miller was CEO of Tandberg from 2001 to 2006 and from 1990 to 2001 served in a variety at roles at Cisco, which acquired Tandberg last year. Simply put: Miller knows the enemy and has ramped up Polycom's channel play and turned it into a video powerhouse through key acquisitions to lead Polycom to victory on the UC battleground

4. Peter Blackmore


ShoreTel had already become a unified communications darling before Blackmore joined the team as CEO in late 2010. But under his oversight the company has launched an all-out communications assault, bringing partners not only into next-gen UC, but making mobility -- see the acquisition of Agito -- a top priority.

3. Kevin Kennedy


When Kennedy took the helm of Avaya last year, he had his work cut out for him. And in just a year he's built up Avaya's channel, brought it into the cloud and made it a stronger competitor against key rivals Cisco and Microsoft. And Kennedy did this while taking Avaya public.

2. Eugene Kaspersky

Kaspersky Lab

With a mischievous grin and a pure hatred for cybercrime, Eugene Kaspersky has put a new twist on security. Under his watchful eye, Kaspersky Lab has ballooned beyond just antivirus and antimalware software and has moved into managed security services and other new frontiers. Kaspersky's mission is to stop cybercrime, and it's working.

1. Marc Benioff


Marc Benioff isn't all talk. While he's not shy about taking jabs at the competition -- especially Oracle chief Larry Ellison, who helped groom him -- Benioff has the innovation chops to back up the bluster. He's taken Salesforce from a SaaS upstart to a cloud colossus in just over a decade and his new push into the social enterprise is altering the way global business, communication and collaboration happen. Benioff has a knack for catching onto trends well before they happen and tying them into Salesforce's ecosystem of cloud offerings. Benioff is out to prove that business software doesn't have to be boring.