This content is part of the Essential Guide: Best data storage products 2015: Products of the Year

Enterprise storage system software: 2015 Products of the Year finalists

Four returning vendors with software-defined and hyper-convergence products highlight the finalists in the 2015 Product of the Year enterprise storage system software category.

The enterprise storage system software finalists in the 2015 Storage magazine/ Products of the Year competition span a wide range of technologies from software-defined storage to hyper-convergence.

Products that were eligible for consideration in the enterprise storage system software category spanned the following areas: file systems, volume management, storage virtualization software, security software, storage optimization applications, solid-state caching software, cloud storage software, software-defined storage and object storage software.

Atlantis Computing Inc. USX 3.0

Atlantis Computing's USX 3.0 software-defined storage update featured VMware Virtual Volume (VVOL) certification, redirect-on-write virtual machine (VM) and volume-level snapshots for performance-sensitive applications, remote replication at a volume level, proactive software updates, real-time monitoring, and email, Web and SNMP alerting.

Avere Systems Inc. Virtual FXT Edge Filer version 4.5

The 4.5 version of Avere's Virtual FXT Edge Filer added the option to run the software within Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), alongside applications, to reduce latency. Virtual FXT enables customers to grow their storage during spikes in demand without having to buy extra on-premises infrastructure. The Avere software supports NFSv3 and SMB/CIFS for file access.

Caringo Inc. FileFly

Caringo's FileFly, introduced in September, moves file data between NetApp or Windows Server and the company's Swarm object storage. Administrators can set file- and directory-level policies to automatically migrate data. Caringo's FileFly software installs on Microsoft's Windows Server operating system.

DataCore Software Corp. SANsymphony-V10 Adaptive Parallel I/O software

DataCore Software's Adaptive Parallel I/O software enables multi-core servers to use all available cores to execute multiple I/O threads and ease bottlenecks, improve performance, and facilitate consolidation of application workloads and physical servers. The Adaptive Parallel I/O software is part of DataCore's SANsymphony-V10, which runs on standard x86 servers.

FalconStor Software Inc. FreeStor

FalconStor Software calls its FreeStor a "horizontal software-defined storage platform for unified data services" across physical and virtual environments. The FreeStor software virtualizes heterogeneous storage arrays and combines point products for data migration, continuous availability, data protection and disaster recovery, global deduplication and predictive analytics.

Hedvig Inc. Hedvig Distributed Storage Platform

The Hedvig Distributed Storage Platform aims to consolidate disparate storage into a virtualized pool and ease provisioning of block, file and object storage. The software-defined storage runs on commodity hardware, scales to petabytes, and supports private and public clouds as well as various hypervisors, operating systems and containers. Hedvig storage product features include multi-site replication and granular storage policies for inline deduplication and compression, snapshots and clones.

Hitachi Data Systems Corp. Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) Anywhere

Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) Anywhere software for file and folder synchronization and sharing added new capabilities such as mobile and browser access to data stored in any NAS device and support for Microsoft technologies such as Windows Phone, Volume Shadow Copy Service and Active Directory. Hitachi offers pay-as-you-go pricing options and can automatically tier data to public cloud services from Microsoft, Amazon, Google and the company's own cloud.

IBM Corp. IBM Spectrum Scale 4.1.1

IBM calls the rebranded Spectrum Scale, which is based on its General Parallel File System (GPFS), "unified file and object software-defined storage." Spectrum Scale 4.1.1 added a Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) connector, enhanced data access with NFS, SMB and OpenStack Swift, and support for encryption, compliant file sets and asynchronous multisite disaster recovery. IBM also introduced a new "read fastest" setting to complement new read and write caching options to accelerate applications with local flash or direct-attached storage (DAS).

Infinio Systems Inc. Infinio Accelerator v2.0

The second version of Infinio's Accelerator server-side storage acceleration software added support for iSCSI and Fibre Channel SANs, application-level reporting from a weekly data store view down to a minute-by-minute drill down, advanced graphs for performance insight, more granular control of acceleration, and user-interface enhancements. The Infinio software uses idle RAM from VMware hosts to create a distributed cache and acceleration layer.

Maxta Inc. Maxta Storage Platform (MxSP) 3.1.1

New features in the Maxta Storage Platform 3.1.1 hyper-convergence software include the MxInsight management console, providing VM-level visibility as well as historical and real-time statistics on capacity, latency, IOPS and throughput, and the MxCloudConnect cloud-based proactive reporting and alerting system. MxSP 3.1.1 also added VM-level data management policies and OpenStack Cinder block storage and Nova compute plugins that support the Kilo release.

Quobyte Inc. Quobyte Storage System 1.2

Quobyte uses a distributed parallel file system to turn commodity servers into a storage system the company says can scale to more than 100 PB at high performance. Quobyte Storage System serves file, block and object workloads on a software-defined system structure and features a fault-tolerant design. Users can control data placement by policy -- enabling tiering, isolation and partitioning. The system includes interfaces for Hadoop, Amazon S3, NFS and OpenStack.

VMware Inc. VMware Virtual SAN 6.1

New features in VMware's Virtual SAN (VSAN) 6.1 hyper-convergence software include the ability to create a stretched cluster and synchronously replicate data between two geographically separate sites; a two-node cluster option and special licenses for remote office/branch office (ROBO) customers; advanced management and monitoring through integration with vRealize Operations; and a free vCenter Health Check Plug-in for performance monitoring, root cause analysis and capacity planning. VSAN 6.1 also adds support for Docker containers, ULLtraDIMM and NVMe flash technology, multi-processor fault tolerance (SMP-FT), Windows Server Failover Clustering and Oracle Real Application Clusters.

Zadara Storage Inc.: VPSA OPaaS 15.07

Zadara's Virtual Private Storage Arrays (VPSA) On-Premise as a Service (OPaaS) added support for running applications in Docker containers within its storage system, backing up data to Amazon S3, multi-zone high availability and Microsoft's Volume Snapshot Service (VSS). Zadara provides on-demand enterprise file and block storage as a service with dedicated resources on-premise, in the cloud or in multiple locations. 

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