The Top 25 Disrupters Of 2013

The Disrupters

There' a saying in football that no lead is safe. Right now, perhaps more than at any other time, that applies to the IT industry as well. As the pace of technology evolution quickens, no IT company, no matter how big and dominant it may be, is invulnerable. Smaller companies and startups, meanwhile, find themselves battling in an ever-more competitive IT arena to survive, let alone thrive.

As part of our ranking of the Top 100 Executives Of 2013, CRN looks at the 25 executives who shook up the IT industry this year.

25. Lucas Carlson

VP, Cloud Evangelist, CenturyLink

CenturyLink, which markets public and private cloud IaaS services through its Savvis organization, is posing a challenge to cloud service leaders Amazon and Rackspace. Carlson joined CenturyLink in June when the company acquired AppFog, a developer of cloud application deployment technology, where he was president.

24. Jerry Baldwin

CEO, Condusiv Technologies

Under Baldwin's leadership Condusiv, perhaps best known for its Diskeeper file defragmentation software, has pushed into the hot virtualization arena with its V-locity virtualization performance acceleration software. The company also has won kudos from the channel for its new Elite partner program.

23. Hajime Nakai

CEO, Buffalo Americas

Buffalo Americas is shaking up the competitive SMB network storage market where the upstart competes head-to-head against such storage system heavyweights as EMC and Dell. The company also is expanding its reach in the markets for wired and wireless networking products.

22. Kevin Murai

CEO, Synnex

Expanding Synnex's service capabilities, and developing opportunities for solution providers along the way, has been at the top of Murai's to-do list this year. The distributor has created a mobility solutions business unit aimed at helping partners in that fast-growing arena, joined Comcast for a telcommunications services push, and acquired IBM's customer care services business for $505 million.

21. Mike Long

Chairman, President, CEO, Arrow Electronics

Arrow Electronics is pointing the way for solution providers to break into new areas such as cloud computing and converged infrastructure. The distributor, for example, has been building up its ArrowSphere cloud services aggregation and brokerage platform to aid managed services providers. It developed a converged infrastructure reference architecture to help partners deploy cloud-ready data centers. It's even created an IT asset disposition service for solution providers.

20. Vince Bradley

CEO, World Telecom Group

IT-telecom convergence is upending the traditional solution provider business model. World Telecom Group, a connectivity services distributor and one of the top master agents in the U.S., is playing a pivotal role in that transformation as many solution providers move to ramp up their telecom service offerings to meet customer demand. WTG is also working with distributors, helping them build out their telecom services practices.

19. Michael Valentine

SVP, Sales and Support Americas, Sophos

Valentine is in the critical position of leading U.K.-based Sophos' efforts to expand sales in North America and rejuvenate the vendor's channel efforts. Those moves come as the company is Web-enabling its product portfolio, starting with its endpoint security suite, and developing a managed security services provider program.

18. John Street

CEO, Pax8

Cloud computing can be complicated. Street and his management team at Pax8 are trying to change that. The Pax8 Command Console provides a way to manage multi-vendor cloud environments, provisioning multiple services from multiple vendors with single-platform billing and reporting. For solution providers it could be the tool they've needed to effectively resell cloud services bundled with their professional services and expertise.

17. Ferdi Roberts

Founder, CEO, SaaS Markets

SaaS Markets is revolutionizing the way cloud applications are marketed and distributed. The company develops app stores that open the SaaS application market to a broader base of companies, including channel partners, that otherwise lack the skills to develop such platforms on their own. The company's MarketMaker platform is designed to support proprietary apps developed by a customer, as well as more than 1,500 prequalified third-party applications.

16. Rick Hamada

CEO, Avnet

Under Hamada's direction Avnet is moving beyond the traditional role of distributor, focusing on providing links between cloud service providers that lack channel programs and solution providers looking to expand into cloud services. In the past year Avnet has created pre-packaged cloud service bundles from Amazon, launched a Cisco-centric cloud service through a deal with PeakColo, and acquired cloud integrator Seamless Technologies.

15. Ron Dupler

CEO, GreenPages Technology Solutions

GreenPages, No. 154 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 list, has set the pace for other solution providers in the cloud computing arena, especially with its hybrid cloud offerings. The company has moved aggressively into cloud services with its Cloud Management as a Service platform and LogicsOne managed services.

14. Justin Moore

CEO, Axcient

Moore is pushing cloud storage provider Axcient to change the way people store, protect and access their data, disrupting the data storage IT market in the process. The fast-growing company also has been a leader in encouraging the channel to embrace cloud services.

13. Chris Wysopal

Co-Founder, CTO, Chief Information Security Officer, Veracode

Under Wysopal's direction, Veracode developed a SaaS-based application code security analysis service that helps software developers identify vulnerability and configuration weaknesses in their software that hackers can exploit. The technology attracted the attention of In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital operation, which bought a stake in Veracode in 2008.

12. Simon Crosby

Co-Founder, CTO, Bromium

Developed under Crosby's guidance, Bromium's vSentry security technology has quickly gained the attention of security experts since its September 2012 launch. Crosby and company are addressing the increased security risks posed by cloud computing and BYOD using what the company calls "micro-virtualization" technology that isolates vulnerable or untrusted user tasks. It also puts the startup way ahead of established security vendors.

11. Martin Frid-Nielsen

Founder, CEO, Soonr

Frid-Nielsen's Soonr provides mobile cloud services, including its flagship file-sharing service that allows teams to work on shared digital content from any device, anywhere in the world. While competitors such as Dropbox have come up from the consumer side, Soonr developed business-grade, highly secure services that are taking the market by storm.

10. Selina Lo

CEO, Ruckus Wireless

Under Lo's leadership Ruckus has been on an aggressive growth track as the company addresses the growing need for high-capacity, high-performance Wi-Fi. Ruckus got its start in SMB markets but more recently has been expanding into the enterprise arena. The company's emphasis on product innovation is helping Ruckus give competitors such as Cisco, Dell/SonicWall and D-Link a run for their money.

9. Werner Vogels

CTO, VP, Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services is disrupting the IT industry as it offers ever-cheaper public cloud services as an alternative to many traditional IT practices. Vogel's job is to maintain that momentum by developing innovative offerings such as the year-old DynamoDB NoSQL database service and expanding into cloud networking, data warehousing and application services.

8. Nir Zuk

Founder, CTO, Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks has increasingly challenged industry giants such as Cisco Systems and McAfee with its next-generation firewall technology. As software-defined networking takes hold, look for the company to expand its presence with its security appliances beyond the perimeter into the corporate data center.

7. Mohammed Farooq

CEO, Gravitant

Gravitant's cloud services brokerage and management software make it easier for businesses and solution providers to quickly compare the cost of deploying workloads in competing public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services, Terremark, Savvis and GoGrid. Under Farooq, Gravitant is disrupting the cloud computing industry by giving cloud service consumers greater control.

6. Achim Weiss

CEO, CTO, ProfitBricks

Under Weiss' direction ProfitBricks is upending the economics of cloud computing. Its virtual data center service provides customers with access to cheaper and more flexible cloud services with a pay-per-minute plan and the ability to change workloads on the fly. The company's approach is challenging established IaaS players such as Amazon and Rackspace.

5. Mario Mazzola

Co-Founder, Insieme Networks

Cisco has poured $100 million into Insieme Networks, a software-defined networking "spin-in" that could prove critical to Cisco's SDN efforts. Mazzola, once Cisco's chief development officer, along with former Cisco engineers Prem Jain and Luca Cafiero, are working on the Insieme project, which Cisco has only described as an "application-centric infrastructure" for data center networks.

4. Martin Casado

Chief Architect of Networking, VMware

Casado joined VMware last year when it acquired Nicira, the much-buzzed-about network virtualization startup Casado co-founded, for $1.2 billion. Casado now plays a pivotal role in VMware's vision for next-generation data centers, leading VMware's charge into software-defined networking and recently launching the NSX network virtualization software.

3. Sundar Pichai

SVP of Android, Chrome and Applications, Google

Somewhere between Google's core search business and its science experiment-like projects are Google Apps, Chrome and Android -- real products that are fueling the company's growth. In March Pichai, who managed Google Apps and the Chrome browser, was assigned the additional job of managing Android, the world's most popular mobile OS.

2. Paul Martiz

CEO, Pivotal

Maritz is driving Pivotal, backed by EMC and VMware, to deliver a cloud-based big data platform that threatens both established IT vendors like IBM and Oracle, and newer competitors such as Amazon. For solution providers, Pivotal offers a new way to deliver data-centric applications.

1. Martin Roesch

VP, Chief Architect, Cisco Security Group

Sourcefire, which Roesch founded in 2001, was already attracting lots of attention for its open-source intrusion detection and prevention technology when Cisco announced a deal to acquire the company for a stunning $2.7 billion. The acquisition, completed in early October, provides Cisco with a deeper threat protection portfolio.

Roesch was Sourcefire's CTO and also served as interim CEO between June 2012 and April of this year. But Roesch is best known for his work developing leading-edge network security tools and technologies for businesses and government agencies.

The Sourcefire acquisition brought to Cisco the security technology it needed to compete against Check Point Software Technologies and Palo Alto Networks. But Cisco also gained Roesch and it will be interesting to see what he develops for his new employer.