Five Companies That Jumped In The Tech Tank At NexGen Cloud Conference

Tech Tank 2014

The CRN Test Center had a big presence at the NexGen Cloud Conference, a cloud-centric confab organized by CRN parent The Channel Company in San Diego this week. In a theater-style booth on the exhibit-hall floor that was inspired by the hit TV show "Shark Tank," 15 companies took their turn in the "Tech Tank" to hawk their products to judges and the audience in hopes of being selected for recognition above others in their category. At stake were prizes no less than the 2014 CRN Editors' Choice and Best of Show awards.

Manufacturers of the 2014 Tech Innovator Award winners this year were invited to compete in Tech Tank for Editors' Choice. Of the 18 winning products, five companies representing six products agreed to compete. Here's a synopsis of the Tech Innovator competition.

Epson Brightlink Pro

One of a handful of presenters doing physical demos was Sean Gunduz, Epson's senior product manager for projectors. Gunduz was there to demonstrate the Epson BrightLink Pro 1430Wi Collaborative Whiteboarding Solution, which took the Tech Innovator Award for Displays this year. Similar in size and shape to a normal projector, the BrightLink Pro mounts on a wall and turns an ordinary whiteboard (or 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 other BrightLink Pro units. He also demonstrated an accessory that extends a computer's display via USB to the whiteboard, turning it into a 100-inch monitor and touch-sensitive remote control.

HP X585 MFP, ElitePad 1000

Hewlett-Packard won Tech Innovator Award bookends this year, one in the Printing and Imaging category for technologies in its HP Officejet Enterprise MFP X585, and the other in the Smartphones and Tablets category for innovations in the ElitePad 1000. At left is Steve Lamb, HP's product category manager for Enterprise MFP for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group. After explaining how HP's stationery inkjet assembly reduces cost and paper jams, he demonstrated that inkjets also can be as fast as laser printers. Next was Jerry Yen, director of HP's Business Personal Systems, who at the end of his demo, threw the ElitePad 1000 across the room to prove its MIL-STD 810G rating. It drew gasps but no broken glass.

IBM Power S822L

At far right is Stefanie Chiras, director and business-line executive for scale-out power systems, who touted the customization capabilities of the Power Systems S822L, which combines Linux and other open source software with IBM POWER8-based servers, and grabbed the Tech Innovator award for Servers this year. She explained how its Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) allows ASIC, FPGA and GPU makers to develop customized logic that can connect with the PCI Express 3.0 bus to communicate directly with the CPU memory address space. This innovation boosts performance by orders of magnitude, and allows the company to pack the power of 28 ordinary servers into a single 2U enclosure.

Interneer Intellect MobileApps

Among the riskier live software demos was that of Scott Smith, a solutions analyst at Interneer. He and channel development manager Todd Lushinsky demonstrated the ability of the company's Intellect MobileApps to build and deploy iOS apps through a drag-and-drop interface and absolutely no coding whatsoever. Using about nine of the 10 minutes allowed by the Tech Tank format, Smith accomplished his objective, and even added a picture-taking feature to the app. He deployed the app to Lushinsky's iPhone, which he proudly displayed to the audience. Intellect MobileApps took this year's Tech Innovator Award for Productivity.

Vistara Lifecycle Manager

The winner for Managed Services this year was Vistara for Lifecycle Management. On hand to present was Aki Naito, the company's senior director of marketing. After showing judges a few slides, Naito played a video that demonstrated the product's ease of use for managing IT operations across on-premise, virtual or cloud systems for multiple clients and locations - all through a browser. The tool can manage all aspects, including help tickets, app monitoring, server health, storage, networks and VMs with customizable alert thresholds for all. There's automation for tasks, incident and problem management, configuration management, remote access and runbook automation for routine maintenance. Naito even took a few barbs from the sharks and never flinched.