The 800-Pound Gorillas of IT

eWEEK Labs looks at the companies setting de facto standards and how they're expected to throw their weight around in the future.

From Ma Bell to Wintel, the IT sector tends to be defined by its 800-pound gorillas-the massive companies that have positioned themselves to grab a share of the daily computing activities of most every organization and individual.

These are the companies that many of us love to hate. On one hand, tech's largest vendors provide the market influence and financial muscle to translate nascent technologies and standards into the consumable, supportable products that enterprises require to carry out their business. On the other hand, the fiduciary obligations that these titans owe to their shareholders compel them to squeeze out as much revenue-and pursue as much product lock-in-as their customers will accept.

In this feature, eWEEK Labs considers five companies with enough size and product clout to bend the fabric of their industries, thereby shaping the products and services available to you, the standards by which these products abide and the viability of new competitors in a given market.

Of course, a company that weighs 800 pounds today may have been a lightweight just a few years ago. Conversely, companies that can currently throw their weight around may find themselves in a lighter weight class in the future. And, as you read this, there's a company out there bulking up to fighting weight.