At Microsoft TechEd 2013 in New Orleans, our editors honored this year's Best of TechEd Award winners. This year, we want to express some extra gratitude to Microsoft and all its partners, who have made this 10-year-old program possible. It has become a highly regarded—and sometimes very competitive!—program, but over the years it has recognized some fabulous products … products from industry stalwarts as well as tools and technologies from promising newcomers. As always, our main criteria for these awards are the products’ strategic importance to the market, competitive advantage, and value to the customer.

This year, our judging panel—consisting of Windows IT Pro editors Michael Otey, Sean Deuby, Rod Trent, and Jason Bovberg—narrowed an impressive field of more than 250 submissions down to 32 finalists in 10 categories—Backup and Recovery, Cloud Computing, Database, Hardware, Messaging and Unified Communications, Security, SharePoint, Software Development, Systems Management, and Virtualization. We also had 3 additional categories—Breakthrough Technology, Attendees' Pick: Microsoft, and Attendees' Pick: Microsoft Partner. And this year, we’ve had the opportunity to call out Microsoft products in a few categories, where we believe Microsoft itself deserved special recognition.

Thank you, and congratulations to our 2013 Best of TechEd winners!

Backup and Recovery

Veeam Software's Veeam Backup & Replication 6.5

Veeam Backup &Replication provides essential backup and replication for an increasingly virtualized world. Instead of merely tolerating the virtual environment, Veeam leverages it to provide the most comprehensive protection for the virtual infrastructure.

Cloud Computing

Optimal IdM Virtual Identity Server for Office 365

Optimal IdM's Virtual Identity Server for Office 365 solves a rapidly growing need—seamlessly connecting companies to Office 365—and doing it elegantly. By lowering the friction of using Office 365, it allows companies to rapidly take advantage of this popular service.

Special Microsoft recognition in this category: Windows Azure

Database

Idera's SQL toolbox

Idera's SQL toolbox is a powerful collection of database management tools that perform monitoring, diagnostics, and troubleshooting. This product won the category simply because it addresses the entire range of day-to-day issues faced by DBAs and database professionals.

Special Microsoft recognition in this category: SQL Server 2012

Hardware

A10 Networks' A10 Thunder Series

The A10 Thunder appliances are exquisitely designed hardware and software application delivery controllers (ADCs). This series won the category thanks to the bevy of innovations inside the hardware and software that make cloud applications faster, more flexible, and more secure, with intelligent services convergence. The A10 Thunder platform’s compact size, streamlined performance, and green efficiency are unprecedented.

Messaging and Unified Communications

StorageCraft Technology's StorageCraft ShadowProtect Granular Recovery for Exchange

Email is the most business-critical function. Having the ability to restore single email messages or complete mailboxes in real time means the business runs uninterrupted. Based on snapshot backups, StorageCraft ShadowProtect recovers email messages and mailboxes (including attachments). StorageCraft fills a significant void in total messaging management.

Security

Proofpoint Targeted Attack Protection

Proofpoint Targeted Attack Protection addresses a desperate need most companies have: protection against targeted email malware attacks known as spearphishing. Using very sophisticated detection and mitigation techniques, this product significantly reduces a company's vulnerability from the main attack vector in company penetrations.

SharePoint

AvePoint's DocAve 6

AvePoint's DocAve 6 is a full-service solution for SharePoint, providing migration services with full reporting and security mirroring. DocAve 6 stood out as a complete solution for migrating and managing SharePoint implementations not only between servers but also from on-premises to the cloud. The level of granularity and customization for migrations is a value for any company managing large SharePoint farms.

Software Development

Telerik's DevCraft

Telerik's DevCraft is a full-featured suite of tools and controls for Windows, web, and mobile development. It won this category because it offers the broadest range of tools, covering the entire software development lifecycle.

Systems Management

NetApp's FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud

A collaborative effort between NetApp, Cisco, and Microsoft, NetApp FlexPod combines hardware and software to provide a complete turnkey solution for Hyper-V provisioning. The FlexPod software toolkit utilizes PowerShell and Orchestrator to minimize customer headaches by fully automating the provisioning process. The toolkit is free as part of the overall hardware solution. This product provides a strong level of support and future potential.

Virtualization

Cisco Nexus 1000V Switch for Microsoft Hyper-V

The Cisco Nexus 1000V Switch for Microsoft Hyper-V is a virtual network switch specifically for Microsoft’s Hyper-V. The product won this category because it brings enterprise-class networking to the Hyper-V virtualization platform and extends Hyper-V networking across the private and public cloud.

Special Microsoft Recognition in This Category: Hyper-V Server

Breakthrough Product

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix Ultrabook Convertible

The Lenovo ThinkPad Helix is one of the very best in the first wave of innovative Windows 8 hybrid devices, demonstrating the power, creativity, and functionality that’s possible in the new age of performance-focused touch computing.

Attendees’ Pick: Microsoft

Microsoft Hyper-V Server

In our newest category, in which attendees chose their favorite Microsoft product from a selection of nominated products, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 took top prize. Microsoft’s hypervisor-based server virtualization product continues to rise in stature, consolidating workloads, helping organizations improve server utilization, and reducing costs.

Attendees’ Pick: Microsoft Partner

A10 Networks' A10 Thunder Series

Attendees agreed with our selection of the A10 Thunder appliances in the Hardware category, bestowing the popular pick to these finely designed, comprehensively featured hardware and software solutions.

See You Next Year!

And that wraps it up! Keep in mind that Windows IT Pro has another awards program on the horizon. Our annual Community Choice awards will begin within the next month, so watch the site for the announcements.