The Most Innovative Products of 2011

The Most Innovative Products of 2011

Products that solve old problems using new methods of technology, that push the envelope of what we thought was capable and that can make an impact on life or business are innovations. Each year, the CRN Test Center honors products and their creators that are true innovators, and this year we honored these as our annual Tech Innovators show.

Cloud Solutions: WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud

IBM’s WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration won this one, because this solution enables companies to easily connect their public, private and on-premise applications, which would otherwise be a fairly tricky proposition. This solution is an innovative ’connectivity in context’ approach to integration that simplifies and accelerates the process for solution providers and IT Departments.

Projection And Digital Signage: Panasonic 3D Digital Display

We had never seen a solution quite like this: a 2D/3D digital signage display that can accept terminal boards with different interfaces. Between the great image quality, energy savings and elegant design, the engineers who put this together certainly earned their Tech Innovator award.

Handhelds: Intermec CK71

Intermec’s CK71 showed us what it had with this ultra-rugged, handheld computer for warehousing and distribution. About a third-smaller than competing products, Intermec delivered real innovation to the enterprise with the CK71.

Managed Services: Xerox eConcierge

Xerox eConcierge provides groundbreaking a printer monitoring and with a channel-friendly supplies replenishment service. Compatible with its branded devices as well as those of competitors, this innovative service breathes new life into printer maintenance by letting resellers take on administrative duties while increasing recurring revenue.

Networking, Enterprise: Riverbed Cascade Shark

Cascade Shark, delivers innovative value by way of real-time and back-in-time forensic analysis and reporting of network and security events, making it not only possible but easy to perform such flow analysis and packet-based troubleshooting.

Networking, VoIP: Kerio Technologies Operator 1.1

The latest version of Kerio’s Operator -- which is a software and hardware IP PBX for small and medium business -- grabbed our attention for innovations such as enhanced SIP security, auto-provisioning for common phones and email and voice mail integration.

Notebooks: Samsung Series 9

Samsung rolled out its Windows-based ultra thin-and-light notebook ahead of many other rivals’ competing products, and it blazed a trail with its approach to developing a sleek design with Intel dual core i5 and quad-core i7 chips.

Printing/Imaging: HP LaserJet Enterprise M4555fskmm

HP brought to bear a color touch-screen control panel for ease of use, support for the Open Exensibility Platform, and performance in an aggressive price point that increased its competitive standing in an already competitive segment.

Wireless: HP MSM460 Mobile Access Solution

Here’s what we loved: it’s the first AP with a three spatial stream MIMO, it supports several antenna options, and its use of standard 802.3af PoE power in a form factor that’s easy on the eyes. The engineering on this device just made it look easy.

Workstations: HP Z210

This workstation broke new ground, in our opinion, with its multi-core graphics workstation for CAD, engineering, video production with an innovative, easily serviceable design. That means greater performance with a lower cost of maintenance, and who couldn’t like that?

Servers: Dell PowerEdge C6145

Dell designed the PowerEdge C6145 with virtualization in mind, but performance couldn’t have been an afterthought. By far the fastest, most powerful mainstream enterprise iron that's ever come through the CRN Test Center, we think of it more as two servers in one 2U chassis, the C6145 can pack up to 96 AMD processor cores, 1TB of memory and 10 PCIe expansion cards, all of which share power and storage mechanicals.

Enterprise Management: Health Alert for Nurses

Innovation in a vertical market got our attention with Health Alert for Nurses, from Extension Inc. This middleware, which stores patient information and aggregates it in context with alerts to a nurse's device of choice to improve timeliness, efficiency and quality of care, should be an example to others seeking to drive innovation and value into such a high-growth space.

Productivity Software: SmartPrise

Value-added Reseller and integrator ZSL won our attention and praise with Smartprise, a social CRM solution that allows for direct integration between mobile devices and social contacts and communications, as well as an off-the-shelf or custom CRM system such as or Microsoft Dynamics.

Storage: EMC VNXe

This solution drives high performance, high availability, scalability and snapshot data protection of high-end systems at an SMB price -- and proves to us that even big iron storage can seek major innovation. EMC's Flex-based administration make set-up and maintenance a snap, and the power and flexibility of the its VNXe storage system were unparalleled as innovations in this segment.

Virtualization: Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform

The Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform scales up to meet demands of apps and servers, scales out to support multiple servers and workload requirements and scales deep to extend its capabilities to work with heterogeneous storage. It was an innovative approach to a segment that continues to grow significantly throughout all layers of the IT channel.

Editor's Choice: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Only because of a lifetime of innovation and engineering excellence was it was possible for this Samsung product to become a leader. The ability to create a brilliant, smartly designed and well engineered tablet and platform that’s accessible to all developers, solution providers and customers is a testament to this year's Tech Innovator Editor’s Choice Award, which goes to Samsung for its Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.

Check out the winners of The Most Innovative Products of 2010.