Products of the Year 2007:

If there's a lesson to be learned from the 2007 Storage magazine and SearchStorage.com Products of the Year, it's that vendors can't rest on their laurels. New guys on the block pop up every day with fresh ideas and technologies, and better ways of doing things.

Only a few vendors from last year's winners' list are back, and none of the 2006 gold medal winners showed up this year. You'll have to keep reading to find the winners, but here are a few companies that failed to make the 2007 list: Brocade Communications Systems Inc., EMC Corp., Emulex Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., QLogic Corp. and Symantec Corp.

Who does that leave? Three startups won in one category, and two startups won in two other product groups. Three of the winners are companies that launched their first products in 2007. Award winners include two virtualization software products -- no, not VMware -- a storage grid system, a self-encrypting hard drive and a disaster recovery (DR) monitoring application. Another product does compression, but not data deduplication. A couple handle the thankless job of gathering information on storage network devices to monitor and analyze performance. And a few traditional storage systems and backup software applications managed to sneak in.

Obviously, this year's judges (Storage and SearchStorage.com editors, and a panel of users, analysts and consultants) couldn't rest on their laurels either. We received a record number of nominations this year, making it more difficult than ever to sort and rate the products. In the end, the judges used a tried-and-true list of qualifications -- innovation, performance, ease of integration, ease of use, functionality and value -- to come up with the three elite products in each category.

Congratulations to the winners!

Only the top three products in each catagory recieve awards, but we'd also like to recognize this year's finalists. Check out all of the 2007 Product of the Year finalists here.

How we selected the winners