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The top data storage and management tools of 2020

These storage system and application software category winners all deal with the cloud, as organizations modernize their infrastructure and leave their data centers behind.

Winning products in the Storage magazine and SearchStorage 2020 Products of the Year storage system and application software category focused on Kubernetes and cloud. With more workloads leaving data centers, the best data storage and management tools are geared for a future that's up in the air.

Interestingly, this year's three winners aren't products that directly compete. Although vastly different -- a high-performance parallel file system, a Kubernetes data management platform and multi-cloud data migration and management software -- they all deal with the cloud in some way. Whether a product supports more cloud platforms or Kubernetes, our judges favored tools that are ready to handle storage environments spread between multiple clouds and on-premises data centers.

Kubernetes and cloud migration were already growing trends, but the COVID-19 pandemic created a surge of interest as customers found themselves driven out of their data centers. Many vendors launched products in 2020 that addressed these two trends, and one judge remarked how software tools that enable migration across platforms and optimize storage costs had "quickly become embedded and ubiquitous." The common thread among the winners is their comprehensiveness -- whoever supports the most platforms curried the most favor.

Gold winner: WekaIO WekaFS v3.8

WekaFS is a high-performance parallel file system that runs in the AWS cloud. Built from the ground up to use flash, modern networking technologies and the public cloud, WekaFS, "has long been the gold standard for high-performance file systems," according to one judge.

The reigning champion from last year, WekaFS won gold again this year thanks to significant improvements. Version 3.8 introduced a Kubernetes Container Storage Interface (CSI) plugin, validated support for AWS Outposts, a snapshot to S3 cloud object storage capability and Weka AI. Weka AI is a framework of customizable reference architectures and SDKs with partners in the Weka Innovation Network. This new feature speeds up AI data pipelines by solving the high-ingest requirements inherent to AI, as well as for other I/O-intensive workloads.

WekaIO WekaFS v3.8
WekaIO WekaFS v3.8 includes a Kubernetes CSI plugin, validated support for AWS Outposts, a snapshot to S3 cloud object storage capability and Weka AI technology.

Judges were impressed with how WekaFS has continued to evolve with the market, adding relevant support and features to deliver high-performance data to modern applications. One judge specifically called out the Weka AI feature and said, "It's unique in its approach to not only provide performant unified storage, but to work on innovative solutions with partners like Nvidia for accelerated storage."

The Kubernetes CSI support was also praised by judges as a sign of keeping up with where enterprise IT is headed.

Silver winner: Diamanti Spektra 3.0

With more Kubernetes applications moving from concept to production, now is the time for Diamanti to shine. Diamanti's Spektra is a Kubernetes data management platform initially designed to migrate Kubernetes workloads between on premises and cloud, providing a simple way to enable high availability and disaster recovery for Kubernetes workloads. Spektra has since expanded into a more robust control plane for Kubernetes applications and their data.

Version 3.0 extended Spektra's data management capabilities to multiple clusters and environments. A unified console enables customers to deploy, manage and migrate applications, and to protect them with customizable replication policies. New multi-tenancy features enable large enterprises and managed service providers to limit user access to resources and isolate tenants across multiple clusters. This version also added more granular visibility features, enabling an administrator to monitor metrics at the cluster, tenant, node, project, pod and container levels.

Diamanti Spektra 3.0
Diamanti Spektra 3.0 has a unified console that enables users to deploy, manage and migrate applications, and to protect them with customizable replication policies.

Judges' compliments centered around Spektra's swath of capabilities. One judge remarked, "Spektra 3.0 delivers one of the most compelling [collections] of features for container data management." Another said it was "one of the best storage solutions for container clusters" because it supports multiple clusters from a single pool and can organize data placement while still providing tenant isolation. They added the caveat that it was pricey, but worthwhile for organizations that are deeply invested in large, multi-cluster container environments.

Bronze winner: Komprise Intelligent Data Management for Multicloud

Formerly known as Komprise Intelligent Data Management, this product has evolved to include multiple clouds, with the goal of becoming a one-stop management platform for all data no matter where it lives. Customers can use Komprise to analyze, migrate and replicate data across on-premises storage and public clouds, and its analytics and cost projection capabilities enable customers to discover cost savings opportunities as they plan out their storage strategy.

Komprise Intelligent Data Management for Multicloud
Komprise Intelligent Data Management for Multicloud has a user interface that enables users to calculate costs before moving any data or purchasing new storage

Komprise's Multicloud upgrade expanded its coverage to cloud NAS -- such as AWS Elastic File System, Azure Files, NetApp Cloud Volumes Ontap, S3-compatible cloud object storage and Amazon Glacier. Combined with support for on-premises NAS and object storage, hybrid infrastructure customers can use Komprise's analytics to calculate costs before moving any data or purchasing new storage. Additionally, intelligent archiving policies and retrieval rules optimize data storage costs and move data in a nondisruptive way without breaking access.

Judges noted several data migration and management products on the market that specifically address large-scale unstructured data storage, but Komprise stood out as being comprehensive. One judge said the AI-based cost optimization, cost-projection capabilities and cross-platform metadata search make Komprise "a much more complete, full-feature data management product."

Learn who made the podium in all five of the Storage magazine and SearchStorage 2020 Products of the Year categories.

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