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The 12th Annual Well-Connected Awards

Well Connected Awards 2006

We've kicked the tires. We've taken the test drive and done the crash test. We've not only looked under the hood, but in some cases completely dismantled the engine and put it back together. And as we do every year at this time, we've made our picks for the best IT products and services of the year.

What exactly makes a well-connected product? It can be a solution that helps IT managers save time and improve the reliability of their services, such as the Opsware Network Automation System 4.0. It can be a switch that supports a converged, centralized network infrastructure, such as Alcatel's OmniSwitch 9700 or, in storage, Cisco System's MDS 9506 Multilayer Director. It can be a unified messaging solution, such as Interactive Intelligence Communité 2.4, which helps employees stay connected through voice, fax, e-mail and presence management.

The 48 categories in our 12th Annual Well-Connected Awards fall into eight key areas of coverage: Security, Network & Systems Management, Enterprise Applications, Wireless, Messaging & Collaboration, Network Infrastructure, Application Infrastructure and Storage & Servers. From our pool of 48 winners, we also chose one product that rises above all others--Forum Systems' Forum XWall, which we dubbed the Most Outstanding Product of the Year.

The hype around Web services outpaced that of just about every technology we covered this year. SOA, XML, AJAX and Web 2.0 have not only created new ways for businesses to work together, but also new avenues for intruders to gain access to your data and systems. Forum XWall is one of the few SOA security products that fights unnecessary complexity. It lets admins easily perform a high-level configuration to gain some basic protection. Forum XWall starts at a relatively low price--around $20,000--and can be expanded as your SOA grows. Better yet, this product plays well with others and integrates easily with ID management and antivirus products. It represents what being Well-Connected is all about.