At Microsoft TechEd last night in Orlando, Florida, our editors honored this year's Best of TechEd Award winners. These awards recognize Microsoft partners that offer innovative products and services in the marketplace. The judging panel—consisting of Windows IT Pro, SQL Server Pro, Dev Pro, and SharePoint Pro editors Michael Otey, Sean Deuby, Megan Keller, Jeff James, and Jason Bovberg—narrowed an impressive field of 260 submissions down to 46 finalists in 15 categories. On the show floor, the team interviewed the finalists and evaluated the products to determine a final list of winners. As always, the three criteria for the judging process were strategic importance, competitive advantage, and value to customers. Show attendees also cast their votes to determine the winner of the prestigious Attendees' Pick award.

It was a fun week in Florida, capped off with a wonderful awards party at in the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure park. We would like to congratulate our 2012 winners!

Backup and Recovery

Symantec's NetBackup 5220 appliance
Symantec's NetBackup 5220 appliance stands out among a growing field of dedicated devices that are purpose-built as all-in-one backup solutions for physical, virtual, and cloud-based data protection. Engineered for midsized-to-large enterprises, remote offices, and data centers, the Intel-designed NetBackup 5220 appliance truly shines in its virtualization capabilities, “green-friendly” non-CPU-intensive de-duplication capabilities, and no-nonsense licensing.

Business Intelligence

Attunity Replicate
Attunity Replicate simplifies the tedious process of loading data from a source database into a target SQL Server database. Its Click-2-Replicate drag-and-drop functionality lets DBAs perform the loading task without having to write any code, and its dashboards let you monitor the entire process and easily see what data has been successfully replicated to the target database and what data hasn’t. Replicate stands out for its ease of use, its zero footprint, and the fact that it enables data to be replicated quickly so that business users can make informed decisions based on that data.

Cloud Computing

Riverbed Technology's Steelhead Cloud Accelerator
Riverbed Technology's Steelhead Cloud Accelerator is a one-of-a-kind Software as a Service (SaaS) application accelerator for Office 365, Google Apps, and Salesforce.com that provides dramatic performance gains compared with non-optimized WAN connections. By making a remote cloud resource appear to be a fast local network resource, Steelhead Cloud Accelerator eliminates the performance bottleneck at the very heart of public and hybrid cloud computing.

Hardware and Storage

X-IO Technologies' Hyper ISE
X-IO Technologies' Hyper ISE is an extremely high-performance storage system that fuses traditional hard disks and SSDs into a single pool of capacity. Its new X-IO Orchestrator software is the software that elevates this solution into the stratosphere, providing real-time provisioning of workloads to the correct disk resources. The performance numbers of the X-IO Hyper ISE continue to skyrocket, blowing away the competition in all kinds of real-world data-intensive applications and environments. This year, the X-IO Hyper ISE evolves from last year’s Breakthrough Product to this year’s Best Hardware and Storage Product.

Messaging and UC

Exclaimer Mail Disclaimers
Exclaimer Mail Disclaimers for Exchange 2007 and 2010 provides IT pros with powerful tools to centrally manage and control email signatures and email disclaimers. Given the ubiquity of email signatures, Mail Disclaimers gives admins a powerful assortment of templates and tools to manage them from one central location. Given the regulatory and compliance needs some organizations operate under, email disclaimer automation can be an enormous timesaver and headache-remover.

Microsoft Product

System Center 2012
System Center 2012's suite of virtualization and private cloud management tools is a compelling combination of both capability and value. This suite enables IT pros to both move their company toward cloud computing and advance their own skills—at a time they most need it.

Mobile and Wireless

Nokia Lumia 900
The Nokia Lumia 900 is unarguably the best Windows Phone ever made, with a bright 4.3" AMOLED display, dual cameras with Carl Zeiss optics, video calling, 4G LTE, and a 1.4GHz processor. More important, the Nokia Lumia 900 is the first Windows Phone that can legitimately compete head-to-head with the latest Apple and Android smartphones. A decade from now, the Nokia Lumia 900 will still be remembered as one of the most significant developments in the ongoing evolution of the Windows Phone platform.

Networking

Citrix Systems' NetScaler 10 with Citrix TriScale Technology
Citrix Systems' NetScaler 10 with Citrix TriScale Technology is available as both a physical network appliance and a virtual appliance. It sits in front of your web server, database server, or enterprise apps to provide load balancing, data compression, enhanced visibility, performance acceleration, high availability, and increased security. NetScaler provides particular benefits to SQL Server, optimizing its performance and capacity. The addition of TriScale to NetScaler brings a new level of scalability to the solution.

Relational Database

Quest Software's Spotlight on SQL Server Enterprise
Quest Software’s SQL Server diagnostics tool, Spotlight on SQL Server Enterprise, provides DBAs with valuable information about how their entire SQL Server environment is functioning by monitoring and diagnosing problems on not only their SQL Server systems but also their related Windows Server and VMware systems, as well as the SQL Server Analysis Services, replication, and SQL Azure connection types. This product features a bevy of stand-out capabilities, including mobile device support, a Heat Map to prioritize issues, and diagnostics information that offers up the most common scenarios that might cause a specific problem.

Security

TITUS Message Classification
TITUS Message Classification is a user-driven email security tool that can be an invaluable asset for organizations operating under strict auditing, compliance, and security requirements. TITUS Message Classification adds the ability for users to easily categorize email messages into required categories, and it helps ensure that sensitive email is delivered only to intended recipients. It integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook, helps prevent accidental disclosure of sensitive messages, and can increase the effectiveness of an existing security, DLP, or archiving solution.

SharePoint Administration

Colligo Briefcase Pro for iPad
Colligo Briefcase Pro for iPad lets iPad users securely access their corporate SharePoint sites in an easy-to-use, Dropbox-like manner. It solves an immediate, pressing need to provide easy, yet secure, mobile access to IT-sanctioned resources instead of unmanaged external storage services like Dropbox.

SharePoint Development

K2 blackpearl
K2 blackpearl lets SharePoint professionals automate business processes and create SharePoint workflows using their visual designer with no need for coding. Workflows created with the graphical K2 Designer or K2 Studio tools can automate almost all SharePoint tasks, including creating sites, managing documents, and prompting for process approvals. K2 blackpearl can be integrated with a number of external data sources, including SAP, CRM systems, and databases such as SQL Server.

Software Development

Telerik DevTools for .NET Ultimate Collection
The Telerik Ultimate collection is a full-featured suite of development tools and controls for ASP.NET, AJAX, Silverlight, MVC, WinForms, WPF, HTML, and JavaScript, as well as tools for reporting. The Telerik Ultimate collection also includes the company’s JustCode code analysis and refactoring product and its free JustDecompile product, which can decompile .NET executes into source code.

Systems Management and Operations

SolarWinds' Server & Application Monitor
SolarWinds' Server & Application Monitor is a comprehensive systems and application management and monitoring solution that’s capable of monitoring Windows and Linux and more than 2,700 different applications. Server & Application Monitor contains expert guidance about what to monitor, optimal operating thresholds, and best practices.

Virtualization

HP VirtualSystem for Microsoft
The HP VirtualSystem is an appliance that removes the complexity of implementing high-performance and scalable virtualization in the enterprise. This is a preconfigured appliance that has been expressly designed by HP and Microsoft to support enterprise-level virtualization. Proving that point, this year’s 11,000 TechEd labs were all run on virtual machines (VMs) supported by the HP VirtualSystem VS3.

Breakthrough Technology

Cisco UCS Server and UCS Manager
Cisco UCS Manager provides complete programmability for all low-level hardware, BIOS, and configuration settings for Cisco UCS Servers, enabling them to be quickly deployed, cloned, and managed—even remotely. Cisco’s USC Servers can also be fully managed using PowerShell or System Center Orchestrator.

Attendees’ Pick

X-IO Technologies' Hyper ISE
For the second year in a row, X-IO Technologies' Hyper ISE takes the Attendees’ Pick award. This is a truly exciting product—providing unheard-of performance and intelligent workload-provisioning management, not to mention a striking design. This powerhouse has it all: brains, beauty, and brawn.