The 451 Firestarter awardees in the fourth quarter of 2019 consist of large and small technology firms that 451 Research analysts believe are disrupting and innovating in their given fields. The focus of the various recipients spans commerce and payments, information security, DevOps enablement, data management and digital transformation infrastructure. We are proud to recognize the impact that these six disruptors are making in their respective markets.

The 451 Take

The 451 Firestarter award recognizes organizations for exceptional innovation and disruption in their markets. Firestarters are awarded quarterly to technology firms of any size and age. Awardees are nominated by the 451 Research analyst team based on their own insights and expert opinion of long-term trends and competitive landscape, and their in-depth conversations within the industry. Nominations are based on a combination of factors, including uniqueness, strategic and technology vision, and the disruptive potential of the organization's technology. Award recipients fall within the four key technology themes of 4SIGHT, the 451 Research framework for understanding the evolution of the digital transformation landscape: Contextual Experience, Invisible Infrastructure, Pervasive Intelligence and Universal Risk.

The Four Technology Pillars of the 4SIGHT Framework

Contextual Experience defines interactions between a customer, worker or citizen and an organization that are augmented by rich sources of real-time information, delivered to them in the right format and at the right time, for an experience that is friction-free, empowered by technologies such as smartphones, machine learning and the cloud.

Invisible Infrastructure describes the evolution of IT and communications infrastructure to meet the demands of modern, digital organizations, enabling technology consumers to assemble, access and pay for digital services in a simple, seamless and automated manner, without specific knowledge of the underlying physical infrastructure.

Pervasive Intelligence describes the ubiquitous use of data and analytics to drive not just business decisions, but also the core operational applications of the business itself. 451 Research defines Pervasive Intelligence as the infusion of human and artificial intelligence into applications, services, workflows, systems, devices and computing systems infrastructure – on the cloud, in the datacenter and at the edge – to deliver, democratize and automate data-driven decision-making.

Universal Risk reflects the new reality of digital transformation. Today, the risks of IT are largely confined to the operational realm, or the consequences of cyberthreats. As technology increasingly permeates virtually all aspects of everyday life, its impact will become pervasive – more universal – as will the risks that arise from the consequences of technology failures and threats at every level, from the personal to the corporate to the national and global.

Recipients of the Q4 2019 451 Research Firestarter Awards (in alphabetical order)

Nominated by Jay Lyman, Principal Analyst, Cloud Native and DevOps

DevOps vendor GitLab has earned a Q4 Firestarter nomination for its continued innovation, transparency and healthy open source software-based business. Founded in 2014, GitLab has grown from software issue tracking, source code management, testing and verification to more comprehensive support for enterprise DevOps lifecycles and continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflows. The company has also invested in scalability and availability in its latest releases. GitLab continues to expand the features of its open source software with configuration, monitoring, security and remediation capabilities. GitLab is also focused on making its DevOps software more suitable and scalable, as evidenced by larger customers that have thousands of developers. While it integrates with many other popular tools for enterprise DevOps releases, GitLab is also positioning itself as a central and single home for all of the different pieces – a critical need for enterprise DevOps teams that face a broad choice of tools and growing complexity.

Our take – GitLab is gaining traction in the enterprise as the DevOps trend continues to drive spending for digital transformation and as management and leadership, the primary purchasers of enterprise IT, are increasingly involved. GitLab is also targeting the right audience of software developers, IT operators, combined DevOps teams and site reliability engineers (SREs). Its growing breadth of coverage of enterprise CI/CD releases and destination as a single home for DevOps tools and components make GitLab appealing to enterprise teams wary of tool sprawl and complexity. GitLab is also unique in its priority on security, monitoring and code analytics, which put it at the forefront of trends within DevOps, including secure DevOps (aka DevSecOps) and DataOps. The company's open source contributions and transparency with an open core model that includes enterprise features and enhancements for paying subscribers highlight GitLab as a modern, healthy example of an open source software company. GitLab also partners and integrates with all three of the hyperscale public cloud providers, helping to mitigate their competitive threat and challenge.

More about GitLab – GitLab's software is built from the ground up as a single application that comprehensively covers the enterprise DevOps release process, including planning, creation and development of applications, as well as verification, packaging, release management, configuration and monitoring for IT operators. The company has also been among the vendors actively injecting security in its software and DevOps release processes. The single application concept means a single user interface, permission model and data store that supports team collaboration, governance and security, and software lifecycle analytics. Since its software was launched in 2011 with source code and issue management, GitLab has exponentially expanded and deepened its range of features across managing, planning, creating, verification, packaging, security, release management, configuration, monitoring and defense to now include dozens of capabilities.

Most recent 451 Research Coverage

Hitachi Vantara (Lumada)
Nominated by Christian Renaud, Research Vice President, Internet of Things

Hitachi Vantara has earned a 451 Research Firestarter award on the strength of its Lumada offering. Lumada has expanded in functionality and scope from an IoT platform to solving specific problems in target verticals, as well as bringing to bear Hitachi Lumada's depth of expertise in data management.

Our take – There are many vendors of IoT platforms, each of which addresses a different piece of the entire IoT puzzle when it comes to providing outcomes to industries. Hitachi Vantara has evolved Lumada to address an increasing number of industrial applications, while at the same time providing robust DataOps capabilities for the resulting operational data. This combination of providing outcomes to OT, as well as an extensive set of data management tools to IT, earns Hitachi Lumada a nomination as a 451 Firestarter.

More about Hitachi Vantara Lumada – Launched in 2017 specifically to address IoT data, the Lumada brand was responsible for nearly $10bn in revenue, according to Hitachi's 2018 integrated report. The expansion of the brand to address data from non-IoT sources reflects its perspective that IoT data cannot and should not be managed in isolation from more traditional enterprise data sources. Lumada Data Services, Lumada Data Lake and the Lumada Data Optimizer Service all make use of functionality that originated with the company's Hitachi Content Platform storage technology and Pentaho data management assets. Along with Hitachi Edge Intelligence, they also validate the company's claim to address data management challenges from edge to cloud.

Nominated by Matt Aslett, Research VP, Data, AI and Analytics

Incorta has earned a 451 Research Firestarter award for Q4 2019 for its innovative technology. The company was founded in 2013 and has always differentiated itself from the mainstream data management and analytics providers with its focus on real-time analytics based on its Direct Data Mapping Engine for performing real-time joins on ingested data. The company also offers connectors for ingesting data from a variety of sources, as well as visual analytics via the Incorta Visualization Suite. The company maintains that this combination – and specifically the avoidance of up-front ETL (extract, transform and load) development and testing, and data model design – can significantly lower (from weeks to days) the time taken for users to gain business insight from their enterprise applications. Incorta has established an impressive roster of customers, including Henkel, Broadcom, Starbucks and Shutterfly (as well as several other big brands that we cannot name publicly). While Incorta is not disclosing the number of its paying customers today, we do know it's substantially higher than the 30 cited in October 2017. The company has confirmed that new and expanded customer traction has helped it grow 234% in the past 12 months, with headcount now at approximately 250, compared with 82 a year ago. Revenue and average contract value are also heading in the right direction (although again we are not at liberty to publicly disclose the details).

Our take – To date Incorta has described this combination of data ingestion, data management and analytics as a 'no data warehouse' analytics platform or, more recently, a 'no-ETL data warehouse.' Although the company is growing rapidly, fueled in part by recent funding, we believe the time has come for Incorta to define itself based on what its platform is, rather than what it is not. Further, we believe that doing so will give it the potential to help define a new enterprise intelligence market category. We believe it is a prime example of what we have described as an enterprise intelligence platform (EIP).

More about Incorta – Incorta has raised $75m in total, including a $30m series C round announced in August. One of the things the company is planning to use some of that funding for is to develop a free trial offering that will enable potential customers to more easily put it through its paces. Incorta reports that a healthy number of its trials convert into paying customers. However, with many enterprises still laboring under the assumption that they need separate products for data integration, warehousing and analytics, establishing the need for them to trial a combined offering could be easier.

Most recent 451 Research Coverage

Kenna Security
Nominated by Patrick Daly, Analyst, Information Security

Kenna Security, founded in 2010, has earned a 451 Research Firestarter award for achieving an early and sustained lead in doing something security desperately needs: prioritizing vulnerabilities for remediation based on risk. Most organizations are overwhelmed with vulnerability data across thousands of devices, systems, files and configurations throughout IT – and now in their OT environments as well. By aggregating this asset and vulnerability data and correlating it with input from vulnerability scoring systems as well as threat intelligence and exploit data, Kenna identifies those vulnerabilities that represent an individual organization's greatest points of exposure. This functionality is critical for modern security teams struggling to monitor and defend a constantly growing attack surface against a continuously evolving threat landscape.

Our take – Kenna's offering takes aim at a long-standing problem in security that has only become worse as enterprise IT environments have grown increasingly complex. By automating the vulnerability prioritization process and simplifying remediation workflows, Kenna optimizes vulnerability management efforts and helps security teams avoid becoming mired in assessments and findings. While not the first vendor to tackle this problem, it has won recognition for its 'data-driven' approach that incorporates vulnerability, asset and threat data. This is a theme emphasized in the current market, along with more modern approaches to asset management that have benefited Kenna's early investment in these areas.

More about Kenna Security – In September, Kenna raised a $48m series D funding round intended to fuel its international expansion and fund continued product development efforts in a highly competitive segment of the security market. Since 2016, Kenna has grown from 30 employees to roughly 180 today. 451 Research's Private Company Database estimates Kenna's 2019 revenue will be $30m.

Nominated by Aaron Sherrill, Senior Analyst, Information Security

Radiflow has earned a Q4 2019 451 Firestarter award for equipping managed security service providers with the technologies and expertise needed to secure and protect critical and vulnerable operational technology environments including industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems on industrial automation networks.

Our take – Threats to industrial systems are no longer hypothetical, and industrial operators are making substantial investments in OT security. Yet many industrial enterprises, especially smaller operators, lack the expertise and resources to deploy and manage cybersecurity technologies, identify vulnerabilities, and detect threats in their ICS and SCADA environments. These organizations seek MSSPs to help fill their cybersecurity gaps, but have discovered that most providers lack the technologies and skills to secure and protect OT environments. Radiflow's OT-MSSP program should prove to be a win for MSSPs looking to expand their services and offer more value to industrial operators and critical infrastructure customers.

More about Radiflow – Primarily a technology product company, Radiflow provides cybersecurity solutions designed to protect ICS and SCADA systems on industrial networks. The company's product portfolio includes industrial threat monitoring and visibility systems, industrial traffic probes and collectors, and secure remote access gateways aimed at protecting the entire OT stack. Radiflow claims to protect almost 4,000 sites worldwide, with customers across the spectrum of industrial enterprises, including power generation, power distribution, transportation, oil and gas, water, renewable energy, building automation, and process manufacturing operators. Radiflow closed an $18m investment round last year led by ST Engineering Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of technology, defense and engineering company Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd.

Nominated by Jordan McKee, Research Director, Customer Experience and Commerce

Stripe, founded in 2009, has earned a Q4 2019 451 Firestarter award based on its developer-centric approach to payments and commitment to rapid innovation and improvement. In the last year, Stripe has launched upwards of 250 new features, products and product enhancements, which include major new initiatives like Stripe Terminal, Stripe Corporate Card and Stripe Capital. Stripe also stands out with its increasingly robust global value proposition that prioritizes direct integrations into local payment methods – by the end of 2019, it anticipates accepting payments in 40 markets, growing to more than 95 by the close of 2020. This global focus has helped position Stripe as not only a platform on which businesses can be launched, but increasingly one that businesses of any size can leverage to operate and scale.

Our take – Stripe was arguably the first company to democratize and streamline access to payments for emerging internet businesses. Over the years, it has evolved from a payments company to an economic infrastructure provider, with capabilities running the gamut from payment acceptance and payouts to capital and fraud prevention. Stripe's commitment to abstracting the deep complexity of payments and related functions allows its customers to focus on their core business and better allocate their developer resources.

More about Stripe – Stripe's guiding mission from day one has been to expand the GDP of the internet by making it easier for online businesses to accept, store, manage and payout funds. While the company first cut it teeth with developers and small startups seeking to sell online, it is increasingly gaining traction with larger, more sophisticated enterprises in need of a better payments experience. Customers include, Lyft, Allianz, Salesforce, Warby Parker, Postmates and Deliveroo.

451 Research will be recognizing additional organizations in 2020, and moving forward, across all four areas of the 4Sight framework: Contextual Experience, Invisible Infrastructure, Pervasive Intelligence and Universal Risk.

About 4SIGHT

4SIGHT brings together the top thought leadership of 451 Research to help frame conversations about the evolution of enterprise IT. It isn't a quadrant or a wave – it's informed perspective that can fuel your planning.

All organizations are finding themselves navigating a challenging and changing digital transformation landscape. It's hard to know what path to take and which obstacles to tackle first. In this new world, it's very easy to fall into one-size-fits-all guidance, but an oversimplified model can't address the unique aspects, skills, assets and expectations of your organization. What is really needed is a frame of reference to start more specific conversations. That's where 4SIGHT comes in.

We've built this framework to bring some clarity to the digital transformation landscape, and to help companies plan for the future in ways that fit their situation and aspirations. Organizations can expand the context of these scenarios to prepare for a wider range of outcomes.

We've grouped 4SIGHT into four areas. Like the real world, they're not distinct, and there is considerable overlap between them. They're not fixed, either. That's by design – it's a living framework that we'll update with new information, course-correcting as the future unfolds. But it does provide a critical starting point for the deeper discussions that all organizations need to have about changes in technology today.
Fernando Montenegro
Senior Analyst, Information Security

Fernando is a Senior Analyst on the Information Security team, based in Toronto. He has broad experience in security architecture, particularly network security for enterprise environments. He currently focuses on covering vendors and industry events in the endpoint security and cloud security spaces.

Jeremy Korn
Research Associate

Jeremy Korn is a Research Associate at 451 Research. He graduated from Brown University with a BA in Biology and East Asian Studies and received a MA in East Asian Studies from Harvard University, where he employed quantitative and qualitative methodologies to study the Chinese film industry.

Aaron Sherrill
Senior Analyst

Aaron Sherrill is a Senior Analyst for 451 Research covering emerging trends, innovation and disruption in the Managed Services and Managed Security Services sectors. Aaron has 20+ years of experience across several industries including serving in IT management for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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