Among judges, Network Appliance's FAS900—the company's first attempt at a storage area network (SAN)—got major brownie points for innovation. In the past, storage managers looking for both file and block capabilities could either install two separate systems, or put a network-attached storage (NAS) head in front of a SAN.
The FAS900's operating and file systems, however, can natively serve up either file or block from the same physical disks, while maintaining a single point of management and a single set of software tools.
To be sure, converged file and block services are a nice technological feat, but the real reason judges rated the FAS900 so highly is because like its filer cousins before it, it's easy to implement, easy to manage and comes with a complete set of software functionality.
In a world where companies spend up to $7 to manage every $1 of physical storage, that's a compelling recommendation.
Disk & Disk subsystems runner-up