This year's competition shines a light on the very best that IT vendors have to offer in cloud computing, network management, security, virtualization, wireless, and more. We also picked a top startup and gave out a green award.
Judges: Andrew Conry-Murray, InformationWeek; Eric Krapf, NoJitter.com
The airline industry is doing its best to help grow the videoconferencing market. As organizations tally higher ticket prices and charges for carry-ons and meals (not to mention lost productivity from executives stranded due to volcanic eruption), they're moving closer to investing in videoconferencing systems.
Of course, a telepresence system starts at $30,000 today can reach as much as ten times that price once you add high-definition cameras, integrated sound systems and large screens.
Another option is desktop videoconferencing, which can put video communication in the hands of more than just a small team of executives. According to an InformationWeek Analytics survey, 36 percent of respondents already have desktop videoconferencing for some or most employees. Another 25 percent are considering desktop videoconferencing.
Vidyo wins in the collaboration category because it has the potential to make widespread business videoconferencing a reality. The company's VidyoDesktop Executive software runs on ordinary x86 computers and provides a high-quality videoconference experience. The software delivers HD 1080p multipoint videoconferencing. Vidyo uses the H.264 SVC (Scalable Video Coding) standard.
Vidyo is positioning the system as a way to put a video "appliance" on an executive's desk. Just load the software onto a touchscreen-capable laptop or netbook, attach a camera, and your executives can get the face-time with an easy-to-use system. Vidyo says enterprises can also deploy videoconferencing enterprise-wide by enabling all user PCs with videoconferencing capability.
Organizations have the choice of buying the VidyoRouter, Vidyo's compression software, which is necessary to use VidyoDesktop, or signing on with a service provider that hosts a VidyoRouter in the cloud. The VidyoDesktop software costs $25 per user per year. Companies have to provide the video camera and PCs. The software can use the microphone and speakers built into most PCs and laptops, or companies can add a peripheral device, such as a USB headset.
-- Andrew Conry-Murray
Category: Data Center & Storage
Mellanox Technologies -- BridgeX 5020
Judges: Randy George, InformationWeek; Steven Hill, InformationWeek
The three finalists in the data center and storage category all brought extremely impressive and innovative offerings to the table. The evolution of unified computing, virtual I/O and converged Ethernet are clearly the most impactful technologies that have surfaced in the data center in a long time. As a result, it wasn't surprising to see that the finalists in this category either loosely or directly addressed challenges in this area.
The promise of Cisco's OTV (Overlay Transport Virtualization) was substantial. OTV's ability to interconnect geographically distributed data centers at Layer 2 clearly has terrific potential for virtual environments that require quick and seamless disaster recovery.
Our second finalist, Ixia, brought a very impressive and scalable Native Fiber Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet testing suite to the table. With its blade design, the Ixia chassis can help analyze, test and assess a wide range of scenarios and solutions for vendors and enterprises.
Our winner was the Mellanox BX5020 InfiniBand gateway. We struggled with the decision tremendously. In the enterprise, InfiniBand isn't generally the transport of choice. However, for applications and systems that demand the most I/O possible, InfiniBand is sometimes the only solution. Part of the reason for choosing Mellanox was the price point and throughput scalability of the BX5020 bridge.
At the HBA level, Mellanox offers 40 Gig of throughput for the same price as a 10-Gig converged Ethernet. For virtualization scenarios with extremely high I/O needs, 10-Gig Ethernet might not cut it, and bridging FCoE to native fiber channel is still a very expensive proposition. Mellanox impressively addresses the issue of cost and performance in the Virtual I/O space, and its solution did a bit more to move unified computing and Virtual I/O forward.
InformationWeek Elite 100Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
The UC Infrastructure TrapWorries about subpar networks tanking unified communications programs could be valid: Thirty-one percent of respondents have rolled capabilities out to less than 10% of users vs. 21% delivering UC to 76% or more. Is low uptake a result of strained infrastructures delivering poor performance?