The lowdown on the Techworld product awards
Why the winners won
By Maxwell Cooter | Techworld | Published: 15:00, 03 July 2008
The Network Management product of the year is an award that always leads to heated discussion. This year the talks weren’t quite so animated as before, as the Uplogix Envoy emerged a clear winner. This was described by one judge as “bloody lovely”. Offering out-of-band management for switches and routers, so that even if the thing is hosed completely and can't be pinged, it can be resurrected remotely via RS-232. It also offered further features such as automated deployment of firmware upgrades based on filters and a distributed architecture for the distribution of configurations and firmware.
The Networking device of the year was a bit of a catch-all category with lots of different devices competing for the judges' nod.
Force 10's C300 Resilient Switch won this because the company had managed to take an ISP/large enterprise technology like 10Gig Ethernet and package it up for the smaller enterprise at a reasonable price. Not only that, it was a product that offered great scalability and thanks to its distributed architecture there was some impressive performance - all of this, coupled with an impressive list of customers made Force 10 the winner.
The Security software product of the year was won by a newcomer to the UK, Core Security's Impact version 7.5. The judges were very impressed with this penetration testing product. It boasted a first-class list of customers (and testimonials) as well offering and a comprehensive sweep of technologies covered.
The Server product of the year was claimed by Intel for its modular server. The judges liked this for many reasons. Partly, the company had really thought about what users wanted, partly because it brought the benefits of modular computing to medium-sized organisations, whose IT guys would probably find full-blown blade servers scary and partly because it was a product that came jam-packed with features.
The category that really stirred up the debate this year was virtualisation. We eventually ended up splitting this into two, covering Server Virtualisation and Storage virtualisation – that stopped some of the debate but there was still a feeling that there were some good products that had fallen by the wayside.
Scalent won the Server award, because the judges thought the Scalent V/OE (Virtual Operating Environment) software was a genuinely innovative product - one that is already being used by some high-powered customers. The Storage Virtualisation product of the year was snapped up by Seanodes for the cunning way it virtualised storage without centralising it on a SAN, avoiding all the bottlenecks and eggs-in-one-basket that can bring.
The Storage Management product of the year was won by Moonwalk with the Moonwalk 6.0. This triumphed thanks to the way that it was pitched at the right level, both in terms of price and ease of use. It also scored highly for the fact that it was vendor-agnostic.
Sepaton went away with the Tape/backup product of the year for its tongue-twisting 2100-ES2 Series 750 Enterprise virtual tape library (VTL) with DeltaStor deduplication software. The company gained its laurels thanks to its innovative approach. It virtualises tape storage by pretending to be any or all of the popular tape libraries - so, for instance, it can be placed in the data centre and the backup software think it's still talking to an ADIC Scalar, HP Ultrium or whatever.
The VoIP/Convergence product of the year drew on the growing interest in converged networks. The winner here the comparatively little-known ShoreTel with its ShoreTel 7.5 but this was a company with an impressive list of customers who all had plenty of plaudits for ShoreTel's offering. What really made this product stand out were two features: scalability - its ability to handle anything from one to 10,000 users was a definite plus - and openness - the judges loved the way that it could handle so many different vendors' applications. It wasn't the cheapest product out there but the judges thought it was the most impressive.
Finally, the Wireless Security product of the year was won by Aruba with its Remote Access Point. Aruba is a company that's highly respected and has released a host of good products. The Remote Access Point won out for its ease-of-use, not requiring a separate remote VPN concentrator to terminate the connection.
There were some common themes among the winners. The judges were impressed with companies that offered value for money, whose products were highly-scalable and whose entries integrated well with other devices and applications within the enterprise. It's also true to say that those products that the judges had seen in action tended to do well (although this was a double-edged sword, there were a couple of entries where the judges had seen the products working and hadn't been impressed).
This year was a bumper crop of entries - some of the best products that we'd seen for some time. If 2009 is anything like this, the judges will be in for a treat.