Exceptional IT products from Microsoft partners
| Executive Summary: |
The Windows IT Pro Best of TechEd IT Professionals 2008 awards spotlight the top products from Microsoft's partners. Our judges considered each finalist's strategic importance, competitive advantage, and value to customers, then chose winning products in 10 categories: Messaging; Business Intelligence; SharePoint, Hardware, Networking, and Storage; Database Administration; Productivity and Collaboration; Security; Virtualization; Systems Management and Operations; and Breakthrough Product. In addition, TechEd attendees voted to determine the winner of the Attendees’ Pick award.
\[Editor’s Note: Unlike past years, this year’s TechEd was split into two events. TechEd Developers 2008 (held June 3–6) focused on the development side of business IT, and TechEd IT Professionals (held June 10–13) centered on content more useful for IT pros and network administrators. We present the TechEd IT Professionals winners in this issue of Windows IT Pro; for the Best of TechEd Developers 2008 awards, see the August issue of SQL Server Magazine.\]
The Best of TechEd awards, produced by Windows IT Pro and SQL Server Magazine, recognize innovative products and services offered by Microsoft partners that exhibited at TechEd IT Professionals 2008.
Our judges were Windows IT Pro and SQL Server Magazine editors, who winnowed the 228 submissions to 29 finalists. On site in Orlando, Technical Director Michael Otey, Executive Editor Amy Eisenberg, and Senior Editors Jeff James and Sheila Molnar attended presentations by all the finalists to determine the winners in all 11 categories, including the Breakthrough Product category for the most outstanding product of the show. The judges evaluated the entries according to three criteria: strategic importance to the market, competitive advantage, and value to customers. And, like last year, show attendees voted to determine the winner of the Attendees’ Pick award.
Best Messaging Product
OneServer Virtual Edition
Our Best Messaging Product winner is Azaleos’ OneServer Virtual Edition, a one-stop virtual infrastructure solution for Microsoft Exchange 2007. Some IT pros have been reluctant to virtualize their Exchange servers, but the maturation and stability of virtualization technology—combined with powerful and inexpensive hardware—take away previous reasons for concern. According to Azaleos, a typical Exchange installation requires four physical servers for the three primary server roles. With OneServer Virtual Edition, IT pros can reduce that hardware requirement to two servers and one storage device. Combined with Azaleos OneStop managed services, OneServer Virtual Edition can reduce hardware and power costs, improve system availability, streamline deployment, and offer improved performance for Exchange 2007 installations.
Best Business Intelligence Product
Microsoft Office and Microsoft Excel are two of the most popular business applications available today. So why not leverage those applications to meet your business intelligence (BI) needs? SoftArtisans answered that question with its excellent OfficeWriter application, which does exactly that. OfficeWriter can connect to SQL Server Analysis Services and other databases and deliver fully functional Excel and Word documents over the Web. One really cool feature of OfficeWriter is its ability to preserve all of the original document functionality, such as macros and pivot tables. Want more? OfficeWriter offers bidirectional data updating (a feature that lets end users update data sources through Excel or Word) and supports .NET Framework 2.0. If you’re looking to leverage your existing office applications to meet your BI needs, OfficeWriter might fit the bill.
Best SharePoint Product
DocAve Software Platform
SharePoint use is exploding, and administrators tasked with managing it need help. AvePoint’s DocAve Software Platform provides an integrated environment for SharePoint management, disaster recovery, and real-time backup. A discovery tool helps you find SharePoint installations in your enterprise, and a consistent, Web-based management GUI makes managing all the product’s features a snap. You can install DocAve Software Platform as a cohesive system or deploy each module individually. The administration tools make it easy to replicate and administer your content, and a compliance module can help you ensure that your SharePoint infrastructure adheres to compliance and auditing regulations. Finally, user and content migration tools simplify the process of moving people and assets into your Share Point infrastructure.
Best Hardware, Networking, or Storage Product
Strangeloop WS1000 Web Services Accelerator
Cloud computing and hosted services have been getting a lot of attention lately, a situation that translates into greater demands being placed on Web services. Accelerating the performance of those Web services is the focus of the Strangeloop WS1000 Web Services Accelerator, an appliance that you install between a Web server and the Web applications that are placing demand on that server. The WS1000 uses a combination of hardware and smart software algorithms that can dramatically reduce the load on Web servers and increase the performance of Web services by an order of magnitude. The Strangeloop WS1000’s advanced caching technologies also enable plug-and-play performance optimization without requiring any changes to the Web services application code.
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Best Database Administration Product
SQL diagnostic manager
In the Database Administration category, our Best of TechEd award goes to Idera’s SQL diagnostic manager. SQL diagnostic manager lets you monitor SQL Server performance as well as diagnose and analyze performance problems. The product can record comprehensive performance histories of monitored servers, which enables the administrator to see trending and analysis of previous system problems. It also monitors more than 230 performance criteria, all of which you can organize, view, and analyze via a powerful command console. Combine that plethora of robust features with a speedy, agentless installation process, and SQL diagnostic manager makes database administration easier than ever.
Best Productivity and Collaboration Product
Colligo Contributor Pro for SharePoint
Giving users access to company information on the road is essential. Colligo Contributor Pro lets users access and edit SharePoint content offline as well as online. A handy Colligo add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook also makes publishing SharePoint content as easy as dragging and dropping an email from one screen location to another. Colligo Contributor Pro is easy to deploy, with a 5MB client, no required server installation, and full support for Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0, WSS 2.0, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003, as well as integration with Outlook 2007 and 2003. This product also lets SharePoint administrators configure and set user permissions, support SharePoint clients in disparate physical locations, and even develop custom SharePoint clients by using the Colligo Contributor Software Development Kit. For all these reasons—and more—Colligo Contributor Pro is our winner in the Productivity and Collaboration category.
Best Security Product
ScanMail for Microsoft Exchange
The winner in the security category is Trend Micro’s ScanMail for Microsoft Exchange. ScanMail for Microsoft Exchange provides comprehensive email security, including antivirus, antispyware, and zeroday virus protection. In addition, ScanMail can stop spam and phishing threats and block inappropriate Web content. A recent survey by Osterman Research (commissioned by Trend Micro) interviewed more than a hundred IT professionals about the costs they incurred when deploying and managing messaging security solutions designed for Exchange environments. The survey revealed that ScanMail for Exchange provided the lowest cost of ownership for organizations with fewer than 2,500 seats. Combine that low cost of ownership with ScanMail’s impressive feature set, and IT pros looking for email security would be well advised to give this product a look.
Best Virtualization Product
VMware Infrastructure 3
The winner in our Virtualization category is VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3). Virtualization is taking the IT world by storm, and VMware has been driving that change. Although vendors such as Citrix and Microsoft are hoping to chip away at its market-leading position, VMware is currently in the driver’s seat. The VI3 suite is available in a variety of configurations and includes several products that can make your virtualized infrastructure more efficient. VMware Consolidated Backup, VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler, and VMware High Availability are just a few of the VI3 suite components that can drive improvements to efficiency and utilization while holding down costs. An optimized virtualization infrastructure lets IT pros dynamically provision and migrate resources through the enterprise to match changing business demands, and no virtualization product suite does that better than VI3.
Best Systems Management and Operations Product
Athena by Odyssey Software is a management solution for Windows-based mobile devices that integrates into the Microsoft System Center management interface. With Athena, you can detect and catalog deployed mobile devices, monitor the status of connected assets, and deploy software updates and applications. Available feature packs let you incorporate additional features, such as asset reporting, software provisioning, security, and improved support, into your Athena environment. The product integrates with Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 and System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to help IT pros more easily supervise, manage, monitor, and secure Windows Mobile infrastructures.
With millions of downloads and robust support for many Microsoft applications, Windows PowerShell is one of the most popular tools to hit the IT industry in years. Its powerful scripting features give IT pros new ways to manage the IT infrastructure. And no product makes Power- Shell easier to use than Quest Software’s PowerGUI, a scripting and command shell platform. If you’re an IT pro who isn’t fond of scripting, or a VBScript expert who’s not eager to learn a new scripting system, PowerGUI could be the tool you’ve been waiting for. PowerGUI provides point-andclick access to most PowerShell features and can convert VBScript expressions into their PowerShell equivalents. Combined with the VMware Infrastructure Toolkit and a few other tools, PowerGUI can also be used with PowerShell to manipulate VMware ESX Server virtual machines. All these features (and more) make PowerGUI the winner of our Breakthrough Product award.
Replicator for SharePoint
Unlike all the other award categories at TechEd, the Attendees’ Pick award is chosen by TechEd attendees who voted for their favorite products. Dozens of products were chosen by popular vote, and the winner— Syntergy’s Replicator for SharePoint—garnered the most votes to emerge victorious. Replicator is designed to help IT pros manage large SharePoint environments and is particularly helpful with the task of keeping geographically diverse SharePoint installations and content synchronized and compatible. Replicator can create links between SharePoint servers, which can then use bidirectional data transfer to keep content and configuration consistent between them. Replicator can also keep users and group data synchronized between servers, replicate permissions, and perform dozens of other helpful SharePoint management tasks to relieve overworked administrators.