Karen Forster and I have just returned from the 2007 Best of MMS Awards ceremony here at the Microsoft Management Summit in San Diego. This is Windows IT Pro's second year running the awards. We had more than 40 entries this year, all of them solid, exciting products worthy of recognition. Our judging panel, consisting of a group of our editors, had a difficult initial task of narrowing the field to 10 finalists. These finalists were selected for their strategic importance to the market, competitive advantage, and value to the customer:

Net IQ AppManager , NetIQ Corporation
Quest Management Xtensions for MOM , Quest Software
Sirana SpamCenter , Sirana Software
SMS Companion , SMS Expert
Specops Deploy , Special Operations Software
WANSyncHA for SQL with Assured Recovery , CA
VMPilot , Emulex
OpsMgr, SCCM and ENTSSO eXctender , eXc Software
KBOX 1000 Series Systems Management Appliance , KACE
Double-Take Server Recovery Option (SRO) , Double-Take Software

Karen and I met with each of the finalists here at MMS to learn more about the products, then spent a long evening reviewing our conversations with the finalists and choosing one overall Best Management Product by a Microsoft partner, two runners-up, and one Most Innovative Product, and designating one Special Achievement Award.

Best Management Product by a Microsoft Partner is NetIQ's AppManager, which extends enterprise management capabilities into heterogeneous environments, including Windows, UNIX, VMware ESX Server, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

1st Runner-Up is SpecOps Deploy, Special Operations Software's simple solution that builds on existing AD infrastructures and Group Policy to allow software deployment without requiring new skill sets and additional infrastructure.

2nd Runner-Up is VMPilot, from Emulex. VMPilot optimizes SAN-attached storage for Microsoft Virtual Server to quickly create SAN-attached virtual machines and migrate those VMs between physical servers without reconfiguring storage.

Most Innovative Product is KACE's KBOX 1000 Series Systems Management Appliance, which provides end-to-end IT automation through an integrated bundle of operations and application software within a server appliance.

Finally, the Special Achievement Award goes to Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, which represents the first step in a fundamental shift in Microsoft's management products to a model-based approach.

Look for more information about our winners and the 10 finalists in Windows IT Pro's 2007 Awards Issue, coming in the August issue of Windows IT Pro. And keep an eye on our product coverage—we'll be bringing you reviews of many of these products, along with information from our briefings with the vendors and analysis of technical innovation and market trends.

*Voting Has Opened in the Windows IT Pro 2007 Community Choice Awards!

Vote for your favorite products from the Buyer's Guides we published in Windows IT Pro over the past 12 months. The first three categories--Host-Based Intrusion Systems, KVM over IP Switches, and Ultra-Portable Laptops--are now open for voting on the Windows IT Pro forums. We'll open three new categories each week for the next three weeks, and voting will remain open for three weeks per category. To see the list of products in each category and place your vote, follow these links:
Host-Based Intrusion Prevention Systems
KVM over IP Switches
Ultra-Portable Laptops