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Resource Management Tools Dominate at Best of Interop Awards

This year's winners of InformationWeek Reports' Best of Interop Awards highlight the need for resource management tools, particularly for virtualized environments.

NEC Corporation of America's ProgrammableFlow Controller, the PF6800, was awarded Best of Interop Overall. V3 Systems garnered Best Startup for its V3 Optimized Desktop Allocation product, which improves availability of virtualized desktop infrastructures (see "Innovative Tools Help NEC, V3 Take Top Honors at Best of Interop"). NEC's PF6800 also won the Management, Monitoring and Testing category.

Lead judge Steven Hill says the trend toward new management products has continued, as enterprises look for better visibility into virtual resources. "No matter where the resource is hosted, it needs to be monitored and managed," he says.

Citrix Systems' VDI-in-a-Box took top honors in Cloud Computing & Virtualization. While virtualization is common with data center servers, virtualization of desktops has lagged, notes category judge Charles Babcock, in part because of performance issues and end users' desire for personalized desktops. VDI-in-a-Box is a single software product that includes everything needed to provision, manage and personalize any given set of end-user virtual desktops. It includes its own server management functions, so provisioning capacity can grow with the size of the end-user group.

Alcatel-Lucent's new OpenTouch Conversation took the top spot in the Collaboration category. Judge Eric Krapf says OpenTouch Conversation gives users ultimate flexibility to collaborate with an intuitive interface that incorporates multiple communications media seamlessly and effectively, while supporting the industry standards and technologies that form the basis of next-generation enterprise communications. Its ability to run on tablets and smartphones, in addition to PCs and Macs, ensures that the enterprise can deploy this interface to a wide range of its users in virtually any collaboration scenario.

"It exemplifies the trend toward richer, more flexible enterprise communications," Krapf says.

The Data Center & Storage winner was Panzura's Quicksilver Global Cloud Storage System 3.0, which judge Howard Marks says hits all three of this year's hot storage technologies: data deduplication, SSD-based storage and cloud capabilities.

Each Panzura Quicksilver appliance is a cloud storage gateway providing a cached file system front end to public or private cloud storage systems, from Amplidata to S3.

The Quicksilver appliance stands out, says Marks, when an organization uses multiple appliances to create a global distributed file system with the cloud storage as its back end. To deal with this challenge, data in the Global Cloud Storage System is encrypted and globally deduplicated at each appliance, eliminating the security risks of public cloud storage and minimizing the monthly cost.

The Networking category was competitive, with all of the industry's heavyweights represented, according to judge Kurt Marko. However, the smaller Gnodal won top honors, with its 2RU, 72-port, 40 Gbit Ethernet (GbE) switch, the GS0072. The company made its Interop debut in 2011 with a line of 1U 10- and 40-GbE switches. Gnodal has pushed ASIC integration to new heights by incorporating 12 of its Peta chips into a single chassis, effectively creating a self-contained, fully redundant 40-GbE fabric in a switch. Overall, the GS0072 puts the most 40-Gbit ports into a single low-latency switch yet.

Cisco System's AppNav Virtualization Technology won the Performance Optimization category. It intelligently clusters Cisco's Wide Area Application Services physical and virtual appliances into a single resource pool managed by a central controller. AppNav can be installed on existing Cisco Wide Area Virtualization Engine appliances and ASR routers. Cisco plans to add more devices in the future.

McAfee Network Security XC Cluster landed first in the Security category, at a time when intrusion prevention systems (IPSes) are based on older, data center-focused technology, says judge Tim Wilson.

"Enterprises are looking to measure their security posture," he says. Firewalls are now used as a window into the enterprise to make changes to security policy and technologies as well as test risk scenarios. Furthermore, they need high-speed threat detection and analysis. The McAfee Network Security Platform XP Cluster operates at 80 Gbps, much than other IPS options available.

This year's Wireless and Mobility prize goes to Cloudpath's XpressConnect Enrollment System, which enables organizations to onboard users to secured Wi-Fi networks using self-service mechanisms. XpressConnect can onboard a variety of client platforms and take these devices from an open enrollment WLAN--or a 3G/4G network--to a far more secure WLAN. For user authentication, XpressConnect works with AD, LDAP, OTP and/or OAuth-compliant services such as Facebook and Linkedin.