The Most Innovative Products of 2012

The Biggest Thinkers In The Business

At UBM Channel's NexTI Conference in late October, resellers from far and wide gathered in Las Vegas to exchange ideas, network with fellow solution providers, acquire new skills and see demos of hardware and software developed by some of the most innovative companies in the world.

They also were on hand to witness the CRN Test Center's presentation of the Tech Innovator Awards, which recognize outstanding innovation in enterprise products developed and marketed by computer-product manufacturers, software developers and solution providers. For years, the Test Center has been honoring the industry's top manufacturers for enterprise products that increase productivity and reduce cost and complexity through innovation and advancement of technology. Here's a look at the winners, including the CRN Test Center's 2012 Editor's Choice for the most innovative product of the year.

Cloud Solutions

Winner: VDIworks DaaSManager

In the view of Test Center editors, no single software product in the market today combines a remote access gateway, connection broker, support for Linux and Windows desktops, power management and VM management in a single solution as well as this product does. It's also the first and only completely free desktop-as-a-service solution in the industry. Congratulations went to this year's winner for cloud solutions, VDIworks DaaSManager.


Winner: Panasonic LFP 30 Series

This year's winning LCD/signage display product is well suited for the growing number of outdoor digital applications we're seeing today. The IP66-rated display is designed to resist excessive heat, extreme cold and dust and water damage without requiring an additional enclosure. It's built with a corrosion-resistant aluminum casing, and its trans-reflective liquid crystal technology provides good visibility in bright, outdoor locations. Panasonic's LFP 30 Series LCD display was a fine example of innovation.


Winner: ViewSonic PLED-W500

In the category of projection display, we recognized an LED technology that's rated to deliver 20,000 hours of lamp life at extremely low power consumption. It's packed into a 3-pound device along with HDMI and other inputs, 1 GB of file storage plus SD and USB inputs for presentations without a PC, 3-D-readiness, automatic keystone correction and integrated speakers. It's a portable LED Projector with widescreen viewing and incredibly sharp and vibrant images. We congratulate ViewSonic for its PLED-W500 ultra projector.

Handheld Devices

Winner: Wasp Barcode WWS100i

This year's winner in the handheld device category is an asset and inventory scanner that fits easily into a shirt pocket. It can be controlled wirelessly from an iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone or similar mobile device or even a PC. It weighs just 15 ounces, can easily read poorly printed or damaged bar codes and has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery to handle up to 5,000 scans on a single charge. This year's Tech Innovator award for handhelds went to the WWS100i from Wasp Barcode Technologies.

Managed Services

Winner: N-able N-central 9

The winner in the category of managed services was the industry's first and only standards-based remote monitoring and management platform providing unmatched business enablement and automation. It delivers advanced remote control of client devices, an integrated MSP Runbook and an extensive array of attended and unattended remote control routines. Congratulations go to N-able Technologies for N-central 9.

Enterprise Networking

Winner: Extreme Networks BDX 8

Moving on to enterprise networking, this industry-leading switch vendor provides "fabric in a box" technology that offers high-density, low latency and energy efficiency. It eliminates the challenges and expense of energy-hungry multibox and multitier solutions. The Extreme Networks BDX 8 deserves recognition.

Voice/Data Networking

Winner: Logitech BCC 950

This year's winner in VoIP networking caused us to rethink the category for unified communications and video collaboration to include this company's all-in-one audio and video device. As the first communications tool to combine a full HD webcam with a high-quality, omni-directional full-duplex speakerphone in a single USB device, this year's winner enables small groups to conveniently and affordably collaborate, often using standard tools and protocols they already have. We congratulate Logitech International for its BCC 950 ConferenceCam.


Winner: Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook

The next category is PCs, portables, ultraportables and netbooks. As one might imagine, there were a large number of highly qualified product applicants this year. The one we chose is a second-generation Ultrabook developed for consumers and business users seeking superior performance, elegant styling and ease of use in an ultrathin, lightweight package. Samsung Series 9 Premium Ultrabooks use third-gen Intel processors, tout Windows 7 or 8 operating systems' innovative software features, and help users stay running and connected anywhere, anytime.


Winner: Hewlett-Packard Z1

The winner in the PC workstation category was the Z1 from Hewlett-Packard. With the design of this innovative unit, HP identified a shift toward smaller work spaces and meets a need that customers themselves hadn't yet recognized. The world's first 27-inch all-in-one workstation features a display that tilts down into a horizontal position and flips open for servicing like the hood of a car. Every piece and part was specifically engineered for this unit, right down to hydraulic hinges that hold the cover open. The chassis enables technicians to easily swap out parts and make upgrades easily, quickly and without tools.

Printing And Imagery

Winner: Lantronix xPrintServer

In the first six months of its availability, the winning device in the printing and imaging category had produced the company's most successful product in 20 years. And it's no wonder; it's the first and only hardware solution for printing from iPads and iPhones. It works with more than 4,000 printers, uses no software, no apps and no configuration; simply open it, plug it in and print. Congratulations go to Lantronix for its xPrintServer.


Winner: Dell PowerEdge R720xd

This year's winner in the Server category shattered performance records of all that had come before. The PowerEdge R720xd server is designed for virtualization, high-performance computing, medical imaging, email service and other workloads hungry for storage and I/O performance. This rack-based powerhouse combines extraordinary memory and storage capacities with highly impressive I/O performance, reinforces it with availability and serviceability features and unparalleled management tools, to deliver outstanding value and rock-solid reliability to the enterprise.

Enterprise Management Software

Winner: Hewlett-Packard CMS 10

HP has reinvented enterprise management by merging tools for discovering software, hardware and associated dependencies in a unified solution. It includes just-in-time discovery, providing clients with near real-time discovery updates on cloud environments. It supports multitenancy, allowing clients to manage multiple client environments in one dashboard. Through automation, it reduces the time spent on manual discovery by more than 50 percent, lowering the risk of service disruptions. This year we recognize HP for CMS 10.


Winner: Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance

This year's storage winner took some of the best technologies of the past and combined them with bleeding-edge technologies of today to create a storage system that not only delivers fast and steady storage performance, but does so with an interface that's easy to manage and expand, and with hardware that integrates with existing systems without disrupting enterprise workflow. Congratulations go to Oracle for its ZFS Storage Appliance.


Winner: Sophos UTM 9

In the all-important category of security, IT administrators in today's threat-filled world want a unified threat management system that's bulletproof, one that locks out threats first and asks questions later. This year's winner is one such solution. It's the industry's first UTM specifically designed to fully integrate gateway and endpoint security in a single hardware or virtual appliance, providing complete protection managed from a single console regardless of location and simplifying the challenges of BYOD. This year's winner for security is Sophos and its UTM 9 appliance.

Wireless Networking

Winner: Aerohive Networks Bonjour Gateway

A runner-up in last year's cloud solutions category is this year's winner for wireless networking. This innovative free VMware virtual appliance brings the Zero-Configuration Networking protocol pioneered by Apple into the enterprise to address the ever-increasing BYOD worker. It keeps related costs and complexities in check, transparently bringing the AirPrint, AirPlay, file sharing and other services native to the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch into enterprise networks. Congratulations to Aerohive Networks for its Bonjour Gateway.

Productivity Software

Winner: ShoreTel Sky Communicator

It might seem odd to recognize a telecommunications system in the category of productivity software. But, this year's winner is not your average PBX. This system integrates as tightly with Microsoft Office apps as anything else we've seen -- including Microsoft's own solutions. This unified communications tool integrates presence, enterprise instant messaging, voice and video chat, screen sharing and file transfer. It can even show when co-workers are on or off the phone. For ShoreTel Sky Communicator, ShoreTel deserves respect and recognition.

Virtualization/Editor's Choice

Winner: Microsoft Windows Server 2012

The final Tech Innovator award was presented for virtualization, and it also happened to be the CRN Test Center's Editor's Choice. Trailing in the virtualization market early on, Microsoft has worked hard for years to build a system with capabilities that are almost beyond belief. For example, imagine migrating an established LAN and its users from behind a company's firewall to the cloud using drag-and-drop with virtually no user downtime. With its data-center abstraction layer, companies are able to deploy and manage virtualized applications, full desktops and servers -- even orchestrated Web services -- through a GUI, from a command prompt or with natural-language scripting, to name a few its capabilities. And, competitors are learning that simple, core-based pricing is the method most preferred by resellers and the industry. So we congratulate this year's winner of the Tech Innovator award for virtualization and the 2012 Editor's Choice award. Both go to Microsoft and its Windows Server 2012.

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