At Microsoft TechEd 2014 in Houston, today we're honoring this year's Best of TechEd Award winners. In this highly-competitive awards program, we recognize spectacular products from leaders in the industry, as well as new, compelling innovations that push the boundaries of technology. As always, our criteria for selecting the winners are based on the products' strategic importance to the market, competitive advantage, and value to the customer.

We'd also like to thank Microsoft and its partners who have been able to make this decade-old program possible. As a result, we've been very honored to have the privilege to recognize amazing products in the industry year after year.

Our Windows IT Pro judges evaluated an array of remarkable products, ultimately narrowing over 200 individual product entries down to 29 finalists in nine different categories. We're also recognizing three additional categories that include Breakthrough Technology, Breakthrough Cloud Service or Technology, Attendees' Pick: Microsoft, and Attendee' Pick: Microsoft Partner.

Without further ado, here's our 2014 Best of TechEd winners! Congratulations!

Backup and Recovery

InMage 4000

The InMage 4000 is an appliance that provides real-time backup, sync, and restore and works with Windows Server, Linux, UNIX, as well as, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, XenServer, and KVM. InMage 4000 works with the a wide variety of platforms and incorporates a full disaster recovery solution that can utilize both on-premise and cloud-based storage while minimizing network impact.

Database

Dell Software's Toad Development Suite for SQL Server

Dell's Toad Development Suite for SQL Server is a database development, query tuning, and performance monitoring tool. This solution won this year’s Best of TechEd database award because it now couples its powerful query tuning capabilities with Dell’s Benchmark Factory. It also includes query tuning tools to help you write better performing queries, in addition to its benchmarking capability that will help businesses evaluate  SQL Server 2014’s new In-Memory OLTP capability.

Special Microsoft recognition in this category: SQL Server 2014

In the database category, we chose to call out Microsoft’s SQL Server 2014. The latest version of SQL Server has the potential to revolutionize application performance with its new In-Memory OLTP engine. The In-Memory OLTP engine can improve application performance by as much as 30x with no hardware changes.

Hardware

Imation IronKey Workspace W700

IronKey Workspace W700 is a USB 3.0 superspeed flash key that enables a full, bootable installation of a highly secure Windows To Go desktop on a stick. IronKey's abilities are extremely timely as companies are looking for a better BYOD solution, along with the ability to migrate from Windows XP without the cost of replacing hardware.

Messaging and Unified Communications

Binary Tree E2E Complete

Binary Tree E2E Complete is a turnkey solution for the harried Exchange administrator that needs to get mailbox migrations done without weeks and weeks of planning. Its predictive modeling takes the guesswork out of when mailboxes will migrate and handles every aspect of communication for the project so admins don't have to worry about it. Their licensing model also allows mailboxes, once licensed, to use the product again and again for future migrations.

Security

Proofpoint Predictive Defense 7.5

Proofpoint Predictive Defense 7.5 is an extraordinarily sophisticated system for protecting users from phishing emails. It uses a combination of aggregated malware data from its customers and other sources, and its own cloud-based machine intelligence to achieve an extremely high success rate. Protection against email-based APT attacks is critical for all business today, and Proofpoint knows how to succeed in this area.

SharePoint

Optimal IdM's Virtual Identity Server for SharePoint

Optimal IdM Virtual Identity Server for SharePoint brings a new level of management and delegated administration to SharePoint, allowing both large and small installations to drive user and distribution list management and access rights down to the lowest admin levels where they need to be. Virtual Identity Server for SharePoint also allows users from multiple, disconnected identity sources to access common SharePoint sites whether they're inside or outside the company.

Software Development

DevExpress Universal

DevExpress Universal is a full-featured .NET development platform with literally hundreds of UI controls. This year DevExpress Universal won because it supports all of the major development platforms, and it also supports touch interfaces for both Windows and ASP.NET applications.

Systems Management

Parallels Mac Management for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager

Parallels Mac Management for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager enables companies to completely manage Macintosh computers. Parallels didn't settle on just a few Mac manageability features, but instead developed a product that takes full advantage of every function of Configuration Manager.

Virtualization

VMware Virtual SAN

VMware’s Virtual SAN provides storage virtualization for all sizes of organizations. Storage virtualization provides many of the benefits of a SAN without the complexity that they're typically known for. Virtual SAN takes storage virtualization and enables it to both scale up with additional compute power and scale out by adding additional nodes.

Special Microsoft Recognition in This Category: Windows Server 2012 R2

In the virtualization category we chose to call out Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 R2. The Windows Server 2012 R2 release significantly improved the scalability, performance and mobility of its built-in Hyper-V virtualization technology. These improvements have really spurred the adoption of Hyper-V in the industry.

Breakthrough Technology

A10 Networks, A10 Thunder Series Threat Protection System

The A10 Thunder Series Threat Protection System (TPS) is a hardware appliance specifically designed to mitigate distributed denial of service attacks. It uses innovative chipset designs so that some common DDOS attacks can be stopped with zero CPU usage on the appliance. The Thunder Series TPS is insurance for enterprises that cannot afford web service downtime.

Breakthrough Cloud Service Technology

Kaonsoft's Meerue Platform

Kaonsoft’s Meerue platform is this year’s cloud breakthrough product. Meerue enables enterprises to develop mobile applications for all of the major mobile device platforms. A unique platform dependent wrapper encapsulates the product’s HTML5 code and enables the cross platform mobile applications to access device specific features.

Attendees’ Pick: Microsoft

Microsoft System Center 2012

Attendees’ Pick: Microsoft Partner

A10 Networks, A10 Thunder Series Threat Protection System

See You Next Year!

And that wraps it up! Stay tuned for more updates for TechEd 2014, exclusively from Windows IT Pro.