10 Server Companies That Make You Think 'Buy,' 'Sell' or 'Hold'

By Kenneth Hess (Send Email)
Posted Jun 14, 2011


There are companies that stir up interest and there are those that should go quietly into the annals of history.

Innovation makes companies memorable. Which of these companies will you remember tomorrow?

The following 10 companies bear watching in the coming months. Some of these companies some will be unveiling new software, new contracts, new innovations, and expansion into new horizons. We will give these companies a "buy." others are in a hold pattern, and we will label them as such, as they linger a while longer for observation. The remainder are sinking the innovation ship, and we will mark them with a "sell."

Note that this list is about innovation, cloud computing, service offerings, and the future of these companies as seen from the eyes of a technical observer. The list has nothing to do with company stability, stock prices or inside information of any kind.

1. HP (Buy)

HP has turned itself into a formidable technology competitor in the past few years with its new CEO, purchase of EDS, and going head-to-head and winning against IBM for major contracts. HP (NYSE: HPQ) has fully engaged its innovation machine and is ready to take on the challenges of agile enterprise computing, including cloud and mobile. It's an exciting time at HP. Leo Apotheker at the helm means new life for the company, where innovation and the original HP ideals will thrive.

Steve Jobs is sold on HP, and Steve knows what's right and wrong with the technical world. A true Apple and HP collaboration would be a significant win for both companies.

If HP continues on its current path, IBM may have to stare at someone else's exhaust pipe for a change. Keep a close watch on that rear view mirror, IBM; for you, HP means "Hot Pursuit." Innovation, support and new leadership make HP a strong buy.

2. IBM (Buy)

Anyone who knows IBM's history also knows that IBM (NYSE: IBM) is the world's most innovative company. It holds thousands of patents. It invented cloud computing and virtualization. It was international before international was cool. It's where innovation got its definition. In the dictionary, next to the word, "innovation," it says, "See IBM." Its people are the best trained and the happiest group of tech folk that you'll ever meet. And, it's profitable.

What's the secret? It's IBM. It's a brand. It changes with the times. It has always had some of the best minds on the planet working on obscure projects and products that we now take for granted.

3. Solarwinds (Buy)

Solarwinds is the darling of every administrator who has anything to do with virtualization. Thanks, Solarwinds (NYSE:SWI) for being there. Solarwinds makes the products that make virtual environments tolerable. Seriously. And, it offers a gaggle of free tools for those who want to try before they buy.

There must be something in the water in Austin, Texas that brings out the innovation in these people. It's almost as if every tool you want is available from Solarwinds. If you aren't a system administrator, you wouldn't understand, but if you are, you probably already know Solarwinds. Solarwinds builds tools for people who need them. Strong buy. And, as we say in Texas, "Watch 'em, they're fixin' to do somethin' cool."

4. Apple (Buy)

When you think Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), you think innovation. You think simplicity. And, you probably think it comes at a high price. It does. But Apple's clever products, marketing and leadership make it a company that deserves your attention. Whatever it is, Apple probably thought of it first.

If Apple makes a tablet, others make a tablet. If Apple makes an app store, other make an app store. If Apple decided to manufacture Kangaroo clothes, everyone else would decide that Kangaroo clothes are the things to make.

The problem is, for other companies, that Apple would also have a line of must-have Kangaroo accessories as well.

Apple is the company to watch for consumer goodies, but what about servers and data centers? It's interesting to note that Apple has recently moved into the cloud realm with its iCloud service. This is likely to be its first step toward a major cloud-based Apple presence. First comes storage, then comes its operating system. Desktops delivered in the Cloud like only Apple could do it. Will it succeed where others fail?

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