If you're a regular visitor to the Windows IT Pro Web sites (windowsitpro.com, sqlmag.com, officesharepointpro.com, windowsdevpro.com, and others), you're probably aware of the many articles and blogs oriented toward Windows and SQL Server professionals and IT pro/developers on these sites. But the sites also have a couple of "hidden treasures"--directory and search-engine resources--that might have escaped your notice: the Technology Resource Directory and Excavator. Here's a quick look at these two tools, which could make your IT pro life easier.

Technology Resource Directory: This online directory of third-party products and services for Microsoft Windows, SQL Server, SharePoint, Exchange Server, and other applications and hardware products is a recent addition to the many free resources available on the Windows IT Pro sites. “The Technology Resource Directory \[is\] a comprehensive and local resource tool that makes it quick and easy to locate the products, services, and training you need,” said Lyle Bonfigt, Windows IT Pro's senior marketing communications manager and project lead for the Technical Resource Directory. You can search the directory for hardware and software products, consulting services, and training services, and narrow your search by category, product or keyword. Providers of products, services, or training solutions can submit their listing on the site for free.

Excavator: Excavator may be the best-kept secret on the windowsitpro.com sites--which is too bad, because it's a pretty good vertical search engine. I often use it to search our sites and find that it frequently returns more relevant results than our site's built-in search engine (similar to using a Google advanced search operator, such as site:). You can perform topic or keyword searches, and results will include relevant articles on windowsitpro.com as well as other sites (yes, you'll even see articles from Windows IT Pro competitors in the results!). Try Excavator, and tell me what you think of it!