The 2014 Tech Innovator Awards
The CRN Test Center's Tech Innovator Award program recognizes companies for outstanding innovation in products developed for the enterprise. Hardware and software products from 18 categories are evaluated based on their ability to increase worker productivity and reduce cost and complexity for solution providers, IT departments and end users through innovation and technical advancement. When more than one innovative product was identified in a category, CRN editors evaluated their respective channel programs and other factors to break the tie, giving the other product(s) an honorable mention. Here are the 2014 Tech Innovator Award winners along with those receiving honorable mentions. See additional details about each winning company and their products in our Tech Innovators Databank
Winning companies were invited to attend The Channel Company's NexGen Cloud Conference in San Diego in December to present their winning products for consideration as the 2014 Editors' Choice.
Winner: AirTight Networks C-75 Access Point
The C-75 802.11ac Access Point from AirTight Networks speeds setup by coming preconfigured with SSIDs for secure corporate network, guest network and a third for administrators that transfers authorized logins directly to the management console. Also setting apart the AirTight solution is Mojo Studio, which adds a social aspect. Back-end software allows guests to log into the access point using a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter account, thereby capturing their age, gender and other demographics and usage metrics. Guests also can be presented with options to enter additional information or be contacted later with discounts or other opportunities.
123Net High-Speed Fixed Wireless (pictured)
Forget dedicated circuits. Michigan-based 123Net is offering dedicated frequencies. The company is setting up wireless networks in Detroit, Ann Arbor and remote and underserved areas around the state that can communicate at speeds up to 1 Gbps over distances of 20 miles.
HP 517 802.11AC Unified Wall Jack
For its out-of-the-box thinking, Test Center editors recognized the HP 517 Unified Wall Jack, which employs wired and wireless connectivity into a device installable in a standard wall-outlet box.
Winner: Dell Latitude 12 Extreme Rugged
The Dell Latitude 12 Extreme Rugged is the first rugged laptop we've seen that has a flip-hinge display for converting it from a notebook to a tablet like that of its XPS 12 non-rugged counterpart. Like all of Dell's Rugged Extreme devices, the 12 meets MIL-STD 810G requirements for resistance to drops, continuous vibration and temperature extremes. It's built with a rigid magnesium alloy backbone and shock-absorbent ultra-polymer materials. All entry points are sealed by compression gaskets and it's IP-65 certified from ingress of sand, dust and liquids.
Dell Chromebook 11 (pictured)
One standout vehicle for the ChromeOS is the Dell Chromebook 11, which features an Intel Haswell dual-core processor running at 1.4GHz, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, an 11.6-inch LCD and HDMI output.
Imation IronKey Workspace W700
The IronKey Workspace W700 from Imation Mobile Security is one of the first commercial devices to productize Windows To Go, Microsoft's manageable Windows imaging system for deployment to mobile workers.
Lenovo ThinkPad 10
An Intel quad-core processor, 10.1-inch IPS panel with 10-point touch and 10-hour battery life are the hallmarks of Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet 10.
Winner: Epson BrightLink Pro 1430Wi
The Epson BrightLink Pro 1430Wi Collaborative Whiteboarding Solution with Touch must be seen to be believed. BrightLink Pro turns any flat surface into an interactive digital whiteboard that can be used and shared by as many as 15 participants via browser, mobile device app or from any other BrightLink Pro. Executives, educators and even children can use the BrightLink Pro to share notes and drawings easily via email, saved files or printed page. The device also can be used as a videoconferencing display with split-screen capabilities for viewing two sources side-by-side.
The 84-inch CDE8451-TL Ultra HD display from ViewSonic puts out a stunning 3,840 x 2,160 pixels -- four times the resolution of HD. But that's not all. It also has a touch-sensitive panel for controlling an embedded system running Android 4.2 with 8 GB of storage or an x86 in its option slot. It can be configured to run Citrix or VMware virtual desktop software. That's one big kiosk (or several smaller ones).
Winner: HP ElitePad 1000
Hesitant to stock multiple SKUs of a product aimed at different vertical markets? HP said that it's no longer necessary thanks to the ElitePad 1000, a high-end Windows tablet that can be easily customized for its intended use case. With a series of so-called smart jackets, the ElitePad 1000 can be tailored to meet specialized needs such as productivity, expansion, long battery life, retail and security. The base unit comes with a 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,200 display with Gorilla Glass, 4 GB of RAM, 64 or 128 GB of storage, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 2- and 8-megapixel front and rear cameras and an aluminum case.
Dell Venue 11 Pro
Also versatile is the Venue 11 Pro, a Windows-based tablet that Dell will build with a 2.4GHz quad-core Atom, dual-core Haswell Core i5 and several other processors in between. There are seven Venue models in all, plus two keyboard options and a docking station, plenty of choice for most commercial applications. An available 10.8-inch IPS display cranks out 1,920 x 1,080 pixels driven by the Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU (GT2) with 20 cores and a top speed of 1,350MHz. Also included are an HDMI port, 4 or 8 GB RAM, and 32-, 64- or 128-GB storage options.
PRINTING AND IMAGING
Winner: HP Officejet Enterprise MFP X585 Series
The Officejet Enterprise MFP X585 doubles the speed and halves the cost-per-color-page of its predecessor, according to HP. This is accomplished thanks to a technology it calls PageWide, which employs full page-width printing and pigment inks. Such inks also provide more durable documents that won't smear when wet and will not fade over time. It also is equipped with security and mobile printing features that help protect output in a shared work environment.
PRINTING AND IMAGING
Fujitsu PaperStream IP
Fujitsu's PaperStream IP is an intelligent image enhancement driver that's designed to quickly scan documents and convert them to clean images to help in the creation of automated digital sharing, storage and retrieval systems. It works with the company's ’fi-series’ document imaging scanners, implements TWAIN and ISIS interfaces, and includes functions for edge repair, torn- and ripped-paper fill, multistream multicolor simultaneous output for faster color scans, blur correction for smoothing dot-matrix printouts, and high-quality OCR and reproduction.
Winner: IBM Power S822L
The power of IBM Power8-based servers combined with the company's laser-like focus on Linux and open source in general combine to give IBM's Power Systems S822L the top spot for server technology innovation this year. Part of a line of new scale-out systems, the S822L is designed to handle the coming wave of big data applications and deliver 2X performance of x86 systems for Java workloads, the company said. The system can run the kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) as well as most popular Linux distributions, including Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu. IBM's Power8 systems implement the Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI), a port layered atop PCI Express 3.0 that connects the processor with ASICs, FPGAs and GPUs, allowing them to communicate through the CPU memory address space.
IBM System x3850/x3950 X6 (pictured)
The ability to have ultra-low latency flash storage directly connected to the processors gives IBM System x3850 X6 and x3950 X6 the fastest application response times available today, the company said.
The Unisys enterprise computing platform Forward connects Inel Xeon processors to computing resources using a high-speed software-based fabric interconnect architecture.
Winner: Interneer Intellect MobileApps
Solution providers building mobile apps have numerous options, mostly involving code. Taking a different tack is Intellect MobileApps by Interneer, which permits the quick and easy construction of mobile business process apps for without the need for coding. Based on Intellect BPM, building business apps and automating business-process flows is done through a drag-and-drop interface, and the system also integrates with legacy documents and systems.
Conversica Sales Conversion Management
The holy grail of any company is a product that sells itself. Offering the next best thing Conversica's Sales Conversion Management software, which can contact, engage, nurture, qualify and follow up with leads without the need for human interaction. The AI tool automates communications with a prospect until it detects a decision to buy. Then the software alerts the sales representative and allows the sales teams to focus their time on conversion.
Winner: Lancope StealthWatch System Version 6.5
From the numerous submissions in the security category this year, we judged Lancope as the most innovative. The proven technology used in Lancope StealthWatch System Version 6.5 employs context-aware threat detection and complex network forensics. According to the company, it transforms the entire visible network into a virtual sensor grid for detecting a wide range of threats, including APTs, DDoS, botnets, zero-day malware and insider threats. The system combines this intelligence with context factors such as user identity, time, location, application and device in use to improve incident response.
Co3 Systems (pictured)
Attacking incident response head-on is Co3, with software to bring together people, process and technology in times of crisis.
Cyphort Advanced Threat Defense Platform
Cyphort's Advanced Threat Defense Platform is a simple, affordable distributed threat detection architecture that covers an entire network rather than focusing on key points of entry and exit.
IBM Security QRadar Incident Forensics
IBM Security QRadar Incident Forensics is an integrated forensic search technology that extends the QRadar Security Intelligence Platform.
nCrypted Cloud Enterprise Edition
The centrally administered tool adds a user-managed security layer atop Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive while keeping their native interfaces.
Winner: Lenovo ThinkStation P900
This one takes "tools-free, modular design" to new levels. At the high end of Lenovo's workstation line is the ThinkStation P900, a completely redesigned system whose engineers focused on performance, reliability, flexibility and ease of service. Along with the latest component speeds and feeds, the P900 can handle up to four GPUs, two processors, 512 GB and 14 storage devices. Everything can be installed without tools, including the motherboard. A patented cooling system channels air across three paths, directly cooling all major components.
Winner: Lifesize Cloud
Lifesize Cloud's cloud-based collaborative solution allows people to connect over video to and from their choice of laptops, tablets or smartphones and meet as if they're sitting in the same room. This is accomplished, said the company, through utter simplicity of its software and through its hardware, Lifesize Icon. The solution supports major teleconferencing protocols and as many as 25 participants per call. A flexible subscription model is designed to accommodate any-size team and budget.
Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e (pictured)
Few products are easier to set up and use than the Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e, which connects its 1,080p camera, speakerphone base and power supply to a central hub, which is the only thing needing a connection to the host Mac or Windows PC.
Tely Labs telyHD Pro
The TelyHD Pro is an affordable, capable and self-contained teleconferencing appliance that works without a PC and is as easy to set up and use as a television set.
Winner: Zebra Technologies HC1 Headset Computer
Wearables are coming, and in a big way. Blazing the trail toward wearable computers is Zebra Technologies (formerly Motorola Solutions) with its HC1 Headset Computer, which is being used in trauma care scenarios, construction sites, nontactical military operations, manufacturing, field service and many other places. Running Windows CE 6 Pro on a TI OMAP processor, the networked device accepts voice commands to fetch everything from schematics, blueprints and training videos to real-time human assistance. It's also an IP67-rated modular device with an accelerometer, gyroscope, HD video and other sensors, a noise-canceling mic, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a microdisplay configurable for viewing with the left or right eye.
Winner: Nexenta Systems NexentaStor
Helping to define software-defined storage is Nexenta. Its flagship NexentaStor can transform a company's storage infrastructure into whatever is needed whenever the need arises. NexentaStor supports file and block storage services, runs on industry-standard hardware and includes all data management functionality by default. The company said that it can cut failover time in half.
IBM FlashSystem V840
All-flash storage is all the rage. And IBM's FlashSystem V840 software-defined flash is a cost-effective way to speed up application performance using real-time compression. According to the company, FlashSystem V840 improves availability and delivers greater resource utilization from storage systems.
Microsoft Azure StorSimple 8000 Series
Microsoft Azure StorSimple 8000 Series is a hybrid cloud storage solution that helps manage data growth and reduce storage costs. Microsoft recently added the StorSimple Virtual Appliance, which enables on-premise access to Azure-based data for searches and disaster recovery and for testing and running workloads.
Winner: Nexenta Systems NexentaConnect 3.0
Nexenta Systems claims to have solved one of the major complications of VDI implementation -- the storage bottleneck. NexentaConnect 3.0 for VMware Horizon and Citrix XenDesktop is a software-defined storage solution that the company SAID can accelerate storage performance by as much as 10 times, thereby increasing the user density of an installation. The tool also streamlines VDI deployment, automates VDI storage management and is billed as a "storage-in-a-box" solution for any supported platform. A recent update adds pass-through support for the VMware GPU, faster desktop pool restoration from backup and the ability to import desktop pools from Horizon View.
IBM Storwize V7000
The IBM Storwize V7000 is an off-the-shelf virtualized storage system designed to accelerate performance of enterprise applications.
Midokura MidoNet 1.5 (pictured)
Midokura MidoNet is an open network virtualization system for OpenStack and Neutron network-as-a-service environments that permits solution providers to build and manage scalable virtual networks atop existing network infrastructures.
ShoreTel in January released ShoreTel 14.2, which can be installed as a stand-alone virtual appliance or in any combination alongside other physical or virtual appliances.
Unitrends Virtual Backup 8.0
Service providers doing disaster recovery might consider Unitrends Virtual Backup, a virtual appliance that provides hypervisor-level protection for Citrix, Microsoft and VMware across a single dashboard.
Winner: Piston OpenStack v3.0
The biggest problem with OpenStack is that there aren't enough engineers around who know how to work on it. Softening the issue is Piston Cloud Computing's OpenStack, which automates the creation and deployment onto x86 servers of private cloud environments that all but run themselves. As least, that's the claim. In fact, the 2011 startup also said its new product can go from bare-metal to a fully operational OpenStack-based on-premise cloud with compute, storage and networking in less than a day, and requires no other software or per-server installation. Management of this hyper-converged hardware architecture, stateless Micro-OS and advanced clustering is provided through self-service interfaces and APIs. The tool also provides elastic resource scaling and fault tolerance.
dinCloud webHVD (pictured)
dinCloud is testing the limits of Chrome and its HTML5 rendering engine. Its webHVD is a clientless Web application extension and back end that facilitates the provisioning and execution of Windows-based desktops that render through the browser.
IBM Enterprise Cloud System
The IBM Enterprise Cloud System unites IBM software, storage and server technologies into a simple, flexible and secure factory-integrated solution.
Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance
The Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance is an off-the-shelf software-defined virtual infrastructure that enables any x86 application or workload to be rapidly deployed to a dedicated box.
DATA CENTER INFRASTRUCTURE
Winner: Raritan Intelligent Rack Transfer Switch
Who needs UPSes when there's Raritan's Intelligent Rack Transfer Switch? According to the data center hardware maker, the PX3TS samples current 4,800 times a second and in the event of a power failure, transfers an electrical load within 8 milliseconds, keeping the rack up and running. According to Raritan, the PX3TS is intended to protect cloud computing and other data center infrastructures that operate on a single power supply. The unit employs a combination of electromechanical relays and SCR technologies to protect computing workloads and also provides remote power metering for energy usage monitoring and capacity planning.
DATA CENTER INFRASTRUCTURE
Tripp Lite SRCOOL12k (pictured)
It's easy to overlook the need for a spot cooler ... until the main AC unit goes down. The Tripp Lite SRCOOL12k portable AC unit not only provides 12,000 BTUs of instant cooling right where it's needed, but the included SRCOOLNET Web management accessory delivers remote management via SNMP, Web, SSH and telnet.
Server Technology HDOT PDU
There's never too much storage space or too many electrical outlets. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. On the job outlet-wise is Server Technology and its High Density Outlet Technology (HDOT) power distribution unit (PDU). The device combines IEC-standard C13 and C19 outlets to pack the greatest number of outlets possible in a standard-sized PDU.
SOFTWARE: ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT
SAP Business One 9.0 with HANA
SAP's Business One 9.0 business management solution now runs on HANA, SAP's high-performance analytics appliance. In essence, HANA is an in-memory computing platform that performs faster data analysis because it doesn't have to wait for the relatively slow response times of disk-based subsystems. Because of its speed, SAP HANA can provide predictive analytics for insight into customer trends and behaviors to help small and midsize enterprises achieve their business goals.
SOFTWARE: ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT
M-Files DMS 10.0 (pictured)
Without controls in place, shared file systems can quickly turn from orderly to chaotic. Solution providers might consider recommending M-Files DMS, a low-cost file management system that uses metadata to quickly retrieve files without imposing a folder scheme.
Microsoft System Center 2012 R2
For service providers deploying solutions based on Azure, Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 provides a single tool for managing apps on-premise in the Microsoft cloud. System Center 2012 R2 manages Windows Server environments and Microsoft workloads and simplifies provisioning, management, infrastructure operation and application SLAs.
Winner: VeloCloud Cloud Networking Service
VeloCloud Networks wants its Cloud Networking Service to be your cloud networking service. The solution combines a small hardware appliance with a cloud-based WAN to deliver secure, high-performance connectivity for branch offices, enterprise applications and mobile devices. A simple user interface gives administrators complete network visibility and the controls for allocating services such as VPN, performance monitoring, firewall and routing policies to branch offices in just a few seconds. According to VeloCloud, the solution is compatible with any existing infrastructure, and supports aggregation of multiple existing broadband connections to optimize performance or provide failover protection.
Silver Peak Unity
Companies that rely on Software-as-a-Service apps for their core business can see productivity sapped by network congestion. Designed to pre-empt such perils is Silver Peak Unity, a WAN fabric that accelerates enterprise application traffic over local and wide-area networks. According to Silver Peak, Unity works by tracking the location of SaaS and IaaS apps and routing traffic using the shortest, least congested path.
Winner: Vistara Lifecycle Management
Monitoring IT systems and operations can be complicated enough when it's just a single company. Service providers managing ops for multiple clients can get out of control quickly. Designed to tame that dragon is Vistara Lifecycle Management, a SaaS-based tool that provides a single view of IT operations across on-premise, virtual or cloud systems for multiple clients and locations. The tool tracks operations from birth to bedtime, with monitoring of apps, servers, storage, networks and VMs along with alerts and customizable thresholds for all. There's automation for tasks, incident and problem management, configuration management, remote access and runbook automation for routine maintenance.
A data backup and recovery service is like O-negative blood; everybody can use it. Designed for IT service providers, the Intronis ECHOplatform is a complete local and cloud-based data protection suite than can be white-labeled and sold as the reseller's own. With fixed or flexible pricing, the service can include unlimited storage or be based on how much or how little data needs to be backed up. It supports physical or virtual data, entire Hyper-V or VMware virtual images and bare-metal restore with quick recovery times.