The Most Innovative Products Of 20086:21 PM EST Tue. Nov. 18, 2008
This year has seen barriers broken and envelopes pushed. Processing power has pushed to new heights and software has scaled up and down the realm of Web 2.0.
Research and development throughout the industry has led to significant steps in innovation, and VARBusiness presented awards to the most innovative offerings from several different sectors throughout technology.
IBM was selected for its work in making mashups, in the form of its IBM Mashup Center and related technologies, a business-ready solution. Mashups are an exciting genre of interactive Web applications that draw upon content retrieved from external data sources to create entirely new and innovative services. This offering enables the creation of very low-cost methods of developing on-the-fly analytics that can combine everything from maps, customer lists and preferences and weather reports, to realtime analysis of product sales on a global basis. The technology will undoubtedly become a powerful tool in enterprises of all sizes as it takes graphical and realtime data analysis to new heights. Plus, it's a lot of fun.
This category winner, NetGear, has been a worldwide provider of technologically advanced, branded networking products since 1996.
Test Center editors liked the NetGear ProSafe GS724TR 24-port Gigabit Switch for its reach feature set, its competitive bandwidth capabilities and its ability to support very advanced features while at the same time limiting complexity. It supports VoIP, QoS, port mirroring and makes enterprise management a snap.
The Kerio Mail Server, winner in this category, is a cost-effective alternative to leading platforms and offers some nifty features, including an embedded version of McAfee security software and antispam tools. Notably, this is a cross-platform mail server, and works in both Linux and Mac OS X environments in addition to Windows -- providing VARs the ability to offer their customers flexibility, as well.
Wireless technology has become a staple to IT architecture throughout the industry, and there are high hopes for the emerging 802.11n technology. In this segment, the Test Center has found a clear winner in Ruckus' ZoneFlex 7942, with its offering that provides strong features, ease of deployment and management and very impressive performance. Plus, the product is designed to be handsome.
In an age when speeds and feeds often aren't enough to close the deal in the marketplace, Lexmark, with its Lexmark Legal Partner MFP, has delivered a vertical market solution focusing on taking standard mono MFP capabilities to another level with customized legal applications. Scan to Network, Scan to Court and other functions provide a solution with measurable value to a very specific and steady part of the market, providing innovation in a segment where it can make a difference.
The security landscape can often prove to be a critical challenge for solution providers in any segment of information technology, so finding effective weapons against emerging threats is not an easy task. Check Point's UTM is greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts are impressive and include a strong firewall, support for IPSec or SSL VPN, intrusion detection and antispyware and antimalware to really take the fight to the bad guys.
Managed Services has gone from a bold newcomer in IT to a trusted and robust offering in every segment. In this category, the winner is Reflexion Networks RTC, Reflexion Total Control.
We were impressed by this particular managed e-mail security offering because of its flexibility, its ability to give customers on-the-fly customization and its ability to effectively manage unwanted or nuisance mail that can plague any enterprise.
Desktop PCs are back, folks, and this is a product the Test Center loved. It's smaller, more powerful, more efficient and eco-friendly than earlier generations of PCs. Lenovo's ThinkStation M57 is sleek, small and it packs a nice punch.
Citrix provides simply a robust, flexible and easy-to-install virtualization solution. It provides for logical grouping of VMs, can play nice with multiple platforms and can work with or without a host operating system already in place. Its template-based approach to the creation of virtual machines is nice, and this product's scalability is simply impressive. With virtualization moving clearly into the mainstream, the innovation is in this company's ability to walk a fine line between ease-of-use and network-readiness.
The winner here, BakBone Netvault, extends backup and recovery solutions of virtual environments by consolidating backups on single servers as a plug-in to VMware's ESX Servers. Modular architecture provides enterprise-class data protection for heterogeneous IT environments, running physical and virtual servers, and lets administrators create comprehensive, flexible backup policies without the need to understand VCB internals or create complex scripts.
The winner, the Samsung A800B projector, is a single-chip DLP 1080p projector for high-end home theater or professional reference use. It's a monster, really. It provides a 24-frame true film mode, faithfully reproduces original film, easy management and calibration.
This latest generation of notebooks throughout the industry take mobility and light and fast computing to levels never even imagined in earlier days of computing. This product in particular took small, light and sleek form factors to new levels before better known competitors; it's built with a 12.1-inch display, has great performance and thermals, and a slick silver case gets the job done with style.
When Intel launched this product this year, it really hit a need that ran deep in many corners of the channel, with a server that delivered enterprise-class computing and networking for small or midsize businesses -- especially those where blade server solutions were not the ideal fit. It combines as many as six dual- or quad-core CPUs with on-board storage and Layer 2 switching, and Test Center editors knew immediately it would be a big factor for many solution providers this year.
IP Telephony continues an historic growth trajectory, with a greater number of technology choices for VARs and their customers than ever before. This product grabbed our attention for a number of different reasons because it seems to just push the envelope across a list of important functions and performance measurements. It can accommodate anywhere from two to thousands of users in a single deployment. Architecturally, it can be deployed on a single network or as a distributed solution across networks.
The Test Center's editors were blown away by the features, design, engineering and performance of this notebook -- a notebook aimed squarely at business and one that, we believe, delivered a new way to consider personal computing and connectivity even beyond its product segment. We could single out the integration of the SSD for storage, the inclusion of an optical drive in a form factor that's thinner than an inch at its slimmest point, or the fact that the thermals were so brilliantly designed that after hours of running, not a single point on the system ran warmer than room temperature during our testing. But this company did all this while keeping the list price at less than $3,000 and keeping it a business-serious product.
This year's Innovator of the Year, because of the breadth and scope of what it has shown, is Intel.
After launching the Intel Modular Server -- one of the most unique servers we have ever seen -- into the channel, Intel continued to show innovation by launching the Atom processor for micro- and mobile-computing. Intel ends the year with a bang by showing us their Nehalem processor -- one of the most powerful pieces of technology we've ever seen. Along the way, its quad-core processors have helped to unlock value in Windows Vista and provide a roadmap for the channel's growth on the value chain.