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2006 Products Of The Year

These 10 rule-changers promise to help enterprises break free of the pack in development tools, security software, networking hardware and more.

You know the drill: The product you choose for a particular task or solution set can make or break your company's business from a technical—and business—standpoint. And the volume of new products offered up for your consideration and evaluation continues to increase exponentially.

Slide Show: Top 10 Products Of The Year

So how do you unlock new profit potential? The 2006 Product of the Year special report seeks to cut through the noise, pointing to software and hardware that breaks past conventions and raises the bar in term of technical excellence.

To determine our list, the CRN Test Center retested both previously recommended and newly updated or introduced products in 10 different segments. From XML Web development to build-you-own NAS to mobile computing to virtual security software. From dimunitive servers to the latest in application development and testing. The one thing all these products have in common is their uncommon flexibility, unshackling the imagination of solution providers and enabling them to write their own rules with respect to configuration and customization options. And, of course, the companies behind these products share a true dedication to reaching customers with the channel, as is demonstrated by the margin potential, technical support and business development details within their programs.

Are you ready to take off the cuffs?

DataDirect Technologies Stylus Studio 2007

Few technologies have experienced the growth XML has enjoyed, a fact that is especially significant when one considers the complexity behind it.

Simply put, XML has become one of the most important technologies in use today for sharing data across disparate systems. Considering the importance of XML and its underlying complexity, any product that makes it easier to deploy is certainly worth noting. Case in point: DataDirect Technologies' Stylus Studio 2007 XML Enterprise Suite offers tools that make XML easy to deploy, without any coding. This achievement earns it a Product of the Year nod for Web development.

Stylus Studio 2007 XML Enterprise Suite comes with two powerful tools, XML Pipeline and XML Publisher. XML Pipeline is essentially a chain of XML operations that control data transformations of XML and non-XML data. XML Publisher helps developers create XML solutions without coding.

The product's graphical map diagrams prove an easy way to control many data sources, a step up from the competition. Validations and conditions based on XML schemas, XSLT and XQuery are used to generate the map. The product's six graphical icons describe XML piping between nodes and ports. Like process flows, pipeline outputs can be diverted to multiple sources and can be stopped if necessary. Stylus Studio provides an additional pipeline step called XSL-FO using XQuery that can transform XML documents into a PDF output.

FLOWR operations are the most powerful and direct procedures for building new structures from source documents. Like SQL Select statements, FLOWR expressions can massage multiple XML nodes into uniformed output structures. Developers also can enforce data types in FLOWR outputs to detect errors when linking nodes.

Stylus Studio 2007 XML Enterprise Suite is priced at $795. Oak Park, Calif.-based DataDirect offers average margins between 10 percent and 35 percent. Seasonal spifs also are offered.

Free technical support is available to VARs, and all calls are answered within 24 hours. DataDirect provides live Web-based training, in addition to its ongoing commitment to its online training library. Many of the new videos are accessible directly from Stylus Studio's help menus.

-- Mario Morejon

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