Best data storage products 2015: Products of the Year

Last updated:February 2016

Editor's note

Our annual Storage magazine and SearchStorage Products of the Year competition, which is in its 14th year, recognizes the previous year's best data storage products. The competition starts each year with our invitation to technology vendors asking them to submit their nominations. Our Products of the Year competition stands out because it is exclusive to products which have been introduced or undergone a significant upgrade within the past year. What we find each year is that, as a result of this criteria, new or lesser-known products end up faring quite well against what most would consider more immediately recognizable products if said products have not been vigorously upgraded.

We make a point of stating that distinction because these awards are intended to recognize innovations in technology. That's not to say technology is the only consideration -- the product must work and its users must be satisfied. Our judges also look at performance, how easily it can be integrated and used, its manageability, functionality and value. Storage magazine and SearchStorage writers and editors work alongside users, analysts and consultants in serving as the judging panel to choose the best data storage products of 2015.

Technology vendors nominated products in backup and disaster recovery (DR) software and services, backup hardware, storage management tools and storage system software. The storage systems category is split into all-flash systems and disk/hybrid systems.

We extend hearty and sincere congratulations to the 18 Products of the Year winners profiled on the following pages. To read more about why each product ended up on our list of the best data storage products of 2015, click on the links in each section. We've also included links to the finalists so you can read up on all the contenders in each category.

1Backup hardware

Winners in the backup hardware group for the 2015 Products of the Year awards faced a crowded competition this year in a category that evaluates tape libraries and drives, backup media, disk backup targets, virtual tape libraries, deduplication devices and gateway appliances for on-premises and cloud backup. The hardware among backup vendors continues to evolve, with sellers emphasizing the use of deduplication to shorten backup windows and systems that are more efficient.

2Storage management tools

The storage management tools category includes products that provide analytics, performance monitoring, automation and data reduction capabilities. Of the nine finalists in the category, the three products that topped the others each provide several of these capabilities for heterogeneous data storage environments, helping them dominate the field. All three winners this year were upgrades to existing products that extended support, and improved automation and visibility into analytics.

3Storage system software

Taking the top spot this year in the storage system software product category, DataCore's performance-boosting software outpolled Hedvig's new software-defined distributed storage platform and bronze winner Zadara Storage's feature-enhanced Virtual Private Storage Array (VPSA) On-Premise as a Service product to top the field.

Products eligible for the data storage system software category spanned file systems, volume management, storage virtualization, security, storage optimization, solid-state caching, cloud storage, software-defined storage and object storage.

4Storage systems: All-flash systems

The all-flash systems category reflects the rise of flash in storage arrays. Most array vendors have an all-flash platform to go with their hybrid offerings. The all-flash system category includes storage platforms that can only be purchased with all-flash storage and no HDDs; includes Fibre Channel and iSCSI SAN, NAS, multiprotocol systems, converged/hyper-converged infrastructure products, DAS, solid-state storage drives, disk controllers, caching appliances, storage virtualization appliances and cloud-integrated storage.

5Storage systems: Disk and hybrid systems

Winners in the storage systems: disk and hybrid systems category this year offer some combination of flash storage and traditional spinning disk. Our product finalists in the category include two startups -- a software-only storage vendor, and a firm that markets a midrange hybrid array -- and an established vendor that designed an all-flash version of its legacy storage technology. It is a true representation of the mix of products that fare well in the competition.