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Best data storage products 2014: Products of the Year

Last updated:February 2015

Editor's note

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.

1Backup hardware

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.

2Storage 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.

3Storage 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.

4Storage 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.

5Storage 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.

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