In Pictures: The 21 most powerful enterprise networking companies

The biggest players on the network, presented for your consideration.

  • Kings of the network Here they are – the 21 companies that have the biggest effects on the day-to-day operations of enterprise networks. Spanning a broad range of different businesses – from wireless carriers to hardware vendors to cloud providers – these firms are, in our view, the ones with the most sway over what happens on the network. We drew on our own institutional expertise, as well as extensive discussions with industry analysts, to come up with the list.

  • A10 A10 is the top ADC vendor in Asia, and has gained market share in the U.S., according to Gartner. Despite the recent unpleasantness of a successful lawsuit by Brocade, A10 continues to build its presence in the ADC market, and recently announced plans to pour an additional $115 million into its product portfolio.

  • Apple Unless you’re using massive amounts of AirPorts in a role they were not meant to fulfill, Apple probably isn’t a vendor you deal with directly in your daily networking activities. However, it’s probably the company most responsible for the headaches associated with consumerization, and it’s likely going to stay that way as long as workers continue to buy iPhones and iPads. Which, obviously, they are – Apple said that it sold 33.8 million iPhones in the last quarter alone, and the holiday season is upon us.

  • Arista Aggressively targeting both high-end data center infrastructure and more limited deployments, Arista is going after no less than Cisco itself with the recent release of its 7000X series of switches. The company is said to be planning an IPO next year.

  • Aruba So wait a second, who uses wireless LAN, anyway? Oh, that’s right – everybody. So would that mean one of the biggest makers of wireless networking gear – rated as a leader in the field by both Gartner and IDC – is a pretty important company, in the grand scheme of things? Yes. Aruba isn't resting on its laurels, either, having introduced a new cloud-centric management service in its latest generation of access points last month and posted record quarterly revenues of $160 million last month.

  • AT&T AT&T is a crucially important player in the network, even beyond its role as one of the biggest mobile network operators in the U.S. It’s also, according to a 2012 report from Frost and Sullivan, the largest MPLS VPN provider in the country. AT&T is presently in the midst of a $14 billion three-year plan to expand and overhaul its network. With the company’s Next plan – which offers accelerated device upgrades to mobile subscribers – fueling even more rapid smartphone growth, the influx of personal devices into the enterprise could speed up as well.

  • Broadcom It's been a rough few months for Broadcom, which announced in October that it would be laying off more than 1,000 workers after poor quarterly results, but the chipmaker is still a force to be reckoned with in the connectivity solutions market. It's also moved aggressively to shore up its position in mobile chipsets – the iPhone 5S uses plenty of Broadcom hardware, according to iFixit – and the company likes to boast that more than 99% of all network traffic in the world touches its silicon at some point.

  • Brocade Brocade won praise from Gartner in its latest data center networking infrastructure Magic Quadrant, in particular for the strength of its Virtual Cluster Switching technology, and is one of the top vendors in the sector. The company also tied for second place, behind only Cisco, in Infonetics' most recent enterprise networking vendor scorecard. Brocade has continued to be profitable in a difficult business environment, posting $682 million in IP networking revenue in fiscal 2013, according to its most recent financial results.

  • CA CA is a fixture in the management of networks specifically and enterprise IT in general. The company’s latest financials show its profits, particularly from its services, on the rise. CA’s $4.6 billion in revenues last year should help put the scale of the company in perspective.

  • CheckPoint CheckPoint Software is the biggest enterprise firewall company in the world – accounting for 22.4% of the total market – according to the most recent figures from Gartner, which also rated it as one of the best vendors in the market in a magic quadrant report. IDC, as well, rates CheckPoint among the top security companies out there.

  • Cisco Well, obviously. It almost doesn’t even need saying, but Cisco, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is the 800-pound gorilla of enterprise networking. Its switch sales dwarf the entire rest of the market combined, and it’s got a presence in just about every corner of the industry. While Cisco isn't invincible – witness a recent 12% stock price skid on the back of missed sales estimates – the company is clearly moving forward, having re-asserted its claim to the data center throne with last month's Insieme launch.

  • F5 F5 is a specialist, accounting for more than 55% of the fast-growing application delivery controller market on its own, according to an analysis from Trefis. F5's Synergy product, however, is an indication that the company has greater ambitions, with some experts saying it goes a long way toward answering the question of where ADCs fit into an increasingly software-defined data center network.

  • HP The venerable computing titan’s name isn’t one that gets into as many headlines as some others – but it’s worth remembering that HP is still the biggest seller of Ethernet switches besides Cisco. The latest IDC report shows that HP sold nearly $2 billion worth of switches over the past four quarters, and Forrester Research rates its private cloud service as the best around.

  • IBM Once a powerhouse, always a powerhouse, in the case of IBM. While Big Blue doesn't have one single area in which it dominates, the company is a player in almost every part of the market. Of late, IBM has begun to make a more concerted push toward cloud and mobile, opening its Watson technology to devs via the new Developers Cloud marketplace and acquiring Fiberlink for its cloud-based MDM offering. It’s also the biggest server vendor in the world, with 28% of the market, and the biggest seller of social business software, with 14% market share, according to reports from IDC.

  • Juniper Although the company has been under pressure over the past couple of years, Juniper is still one of the biggest players in the enterprise networking industry, trailing only Cisco and Brocade on a recent Infonetics report card. The release last month of a new line of switches designed for use with the company’s new MetaFabric SDN framework makes Juniper more technologically competitive than ever, and it has remained among the top non-Cisco companies in both the enterprise and carrier switch marketplaces even through the lean times. New CEO and Verizon veteran Shaygan Kheradpir is expected to help grow the company’s core service provider routing business.

  • McAfee Long one of the most recognizable names in security, McAfee – now a subsidiary of Intel – has pivoted strongly toward the enterprise market of late. The company recently released a new advanced threat defense product, which – along with the acquisition earlier this year of European firewall vendor Stonesoft – signals a move toward what Enterprise Strategy Group analyst and NW blogger Jon Oltsik says could be a strong, integrated security architecture.

  • Microsoft Microsoft might not make the networking gear that keeps companies running, but its software - from Windows to Exchange to Office – is one of the primary traffic payloads that the network has to support. What's more, the company's Azure IaaS offering is quickly becoming a major competitor to market leader Amazon Web Services, and the rapid growth in Windows Phone adoption – IDC recently reported 156% year-on-year growth in Windows Phone shipments – could make it an increasingly important factor in BYOD.

  • Palo Alto One of the top companies in network security – and likely the fastest-growing – is Palo Alto Networks, rated one of the leaders in Gartner's most recent magic quadrant report on enterprise network firewalls. The chief competitor to CheckPoint just announced 49% year-on-year revenue gains, driven mainly by subscriptions.

  • Riverbed Though it’s being pushed by competitors like Aryaka and Silver Peak, Riverbed remains king of the WAN optimization hill. Our own recent Clear Choice Test confirmed the company’s status as the heavyweight in the sector, as did the most recent Gartner Magic Quadrant. For WAN users, Riverbed is a name you just have to know.

  • Symantec Protection across the various layers of your infrastructure is essential – and so is protection at the endpoint, where the user meets the system. A roughly $7 billion company, Symantec is the global leader in terms of endpoint protection market share, according to Gartner, which also rated the company as the best in the business in the latest Magic Quadrant.

  • Verizon Like AT&T, Verizon’s already a major influencer for its role in the BYOD phenomenon, but it’s also one of the main MPLS providers in the country. The company’s managed MPLS service is available in 84 U.S. cities, according to the latest Forrester Wave report. The company is currently working to boost its 4G/LTE capacity, having completed projects that expand its mobile network’s coverage.

  • VMware While it’s not generally known as a networking company, VMWare is the biggest and most powerful player in the business of cloud software by considerable margin – roughly 20% of all cloud management revenues between 2010 and 2012 were VMWare’s, according to IDC. Given the company’s role in the data center at large – as well as its vCloud Networking and Security product line – it seems clear that VMWare is a major influence.

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