For the 12th year in a row, we invited vendors and users to nominate their best data storage offerings for the annual Storage magazine and SearchStorage.com Products of the Year awards. Our awards differ from similar contests because we only focus on products that were introduced or significantly upgraded within the past year. As a result, new or lesser-known data storage products often fare well against entrenched products if those products were not appreciably upgraded.
But technological innovation isn't the only consideration -- the product also has to work well and satisfy user needs. Additional criteria our judges consider include performance, ease of integration, ease of use and manageability, functionality and value. Our judging panel comprises users, analysts and consultants, as well as Storage magazine and SearchStorage.com editors and writers.
As in previous years, categories included backup and disaster recovery software and services, backup hardware, storage management tools and storage system software. For the first time, we separated the storage systems category into all-flash systems and disk/hybrid systems to reflect the changing landscape of storage hardware available today.
To the 19 Products of the Year winners profiled on the following pages, we tender our hearty congratulations. To learn why each offering was among our selections for the best data storage products of 2014, click on the links in each section. We've also included links to the finalists so you can read about all the contenders in each category.
1Products of the Year winners-
Backup and DR software and services
The challenges associated with backing up data have changed quite a lot in the past few years. Many users are looking to streamline backup processes to deal with growing backup data sets, shrinking backup windows and an increasingly mobile workforce. Data protection vendors have responded in a number of ways, and this year's winners include three products that reflect those trends. The first is aimed at backing up data created in the cloud; another offers backup and disaster recovery managed from a single platform; and the third combines backup with file sync and share.
Asigra's enterprise-class, multi-tenant, agentless backup and recovery software product automates the backup of data residing in third party-based cloud applications such as Google Apps, Office 365 and Salesforce.com, consolidating the data into a central backup repository. Continue Reading
UCRS offers hypervisor-level protection for three major hypervisors, as well as full disaster recovery automation that can extend to the Unitrends Cloud for off-site failover to automate testing and service-level agreement enforcement. Continue Reading
With Version 4.1.4, endpoint backup and secure sync and share are deployed from a single platform, installed across any sized enterprise. A single admin console deploys and manages CrashPlan and SharePlan, regardless of where the data is stored or where the keys are kept. Continue Reading
2Products of the Year winners-
The backup hardware category in the 2014 Products of the Year awards evaluates tape libraries and drives, backup media, disk backup targets, virtual tape libraries, deduplication devices and gateway appliances for cloud backup. This year's vendor offerings include technologies aimed at improving dedupe performance.
Quantum Corp.'s purpose-built backup appliance works with all major backup software. iLayer software makes multi-site data protection easier, with setup configuration wizards, detailed resource utilization reporting and an intuitive topology-based view of the environment. Continue Reading
3Products of the Year winners-
Storage management tools
The storage management tools category includes products that provide performance monitoring, configuration management, provisioning, data reduction and other general storage management capabilities. There were nine entries in the category this year, and judges scored the top three highly for their ease of use and manageability, performance and innovation. The winners in this category were all significant upgrades of existing software products that expanded their support and added useful management features.
HP OneView integrates the manageability features of HP OneView, HP ProLiant servers, HP BladeSystem, HP Networking and HP Storage into the VMware vCenter console. Users can provision, monitor, update and scale resources without leaving the vCenter console. Continue Reading
Symantec added features to version 6.1 -- such as SmartIO, AdaptiveHA and single-click disaster recovery for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization -- that take advantage of flash. Judges agreed they were necessary steps to keep the product valuable in today's storage world. Continue Reading
4Products of the Year winners-
Storage system software
Virtualization and software-defined storage were big themes among the four winners of this year's storage system software category. The category includes file systems, volume management, storage virtualization, security software, storage optimization, solid-state caching, cloud storage, software-defined storage and object storage.
The gold medalist pools server flash and RAM, while the silver winner can aggregate SAN, NAS, DAS and other storage resources to provide virtual volumes to applications. There are two bronze co-winners: one pools the capacity of hard disks and flash drives in commodity servers into a distributed object store for virtual machines (VMs), while the other supports interfaces for file, object and VM storage.
5Products of the Year winners-
Storage systems: All-flash systems
Flash has emerged in enterprise storage arrays to the point where nearly every vendor has an all-flash version and most SAN purchases included some flash. This year, for the first time, we created a Storage Systems: All-Flash Systems category for the Products of the Year competition. The winners include a legacy vendor that tailored its system for all-flash, a vendor that was an all-flash pioneer as a start-up and a company honored for its innovative solid-state drive (SSD) technology.
The FA-450 is Pure Storage's highest capacity model. It includes FlashProtect to aid against flash failure, FlashReduce high-performance inline data reduction, FlashRecover data-reduction-optimized backup and DR, and Forever Flash to extend array lifecycles. Continue Reading
6Products of the Year winners-
Storage systems: Disk and hybrid systems
Not all storage systems are all-flash these days. The winners in this category use either hard drives and flash in a hybrid configuration or no flash at all. The products on our final list include two hyper-converged systems -- one for Windows-only -- and an iSCSI array that added flash capability.
Gridstore takes its Windows-only storage system to the next level with its HyperConverged Appliance that combines servers and Microsoft Hyper-V-based storage nodes in one box. The Gridstore vController provides tight integration with Windows management and functionality. Continue Reading