Your guide to InfoWorld's best tech of the year

Last week's 2014 Technology of the Year Awards honored 35 products, the best we encountered in 2013 -- and the ones that animate the most important enterprise technology trends

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Data center decisions
Software may be eating the world, but hardware ain't dead yet. Repeat winner Riverbed Steelhead won a 2014 Technology of the Year Award, mainly because it showed how Riverbed has evolved its technology from WAN acceleration into a "full-blown enterprise traffic management system," according to longtime InfoWorld contributing editor Keith Schultz. And despite Dell's travails on the desktop, its servers continue to earn our admiration, as the Dell PowerEdge VRTX did this year.

Kick up the innovation a couple of notches and you'll discover the Nutanix NX-3000, an appliance dedicated to easing infrastructure management for VMware, Hyper-V, and KVM deployments. According to contributing editor Paul Ferrill, Nutanix's innovative software creates cloudlike clusters using commodity server hardware and eliminates the need for network storage.  

Speaking of storage, check out the Synology RS10613xs+, a 10-drive SAS/SATA storage system that delivers great performance for the buck. Further up the storage food chain, HP's 3PAR StoreServ offers blazing speed, particularly in its all-flash configuration, and its close integration with VMware makes it a perfect storage system to support a farm of virtual servers. 

One of the hottest areas in enterprise tech centers are the solutions to orchestrate all that data center hardware. From our roundup of configuration management solutions posted in December, we selected Puppet Enterprise and SaltStack Enterprise as Technology of the Year winners.

Big data dreams
It's not hard to identify the center of the big data tech: Hadoop changed everything, providing a platform where you could use commodity servers to crunch gobs of semi-structured data to gain new insight. This year Apache released Hadoop 2.0, which features a new resource management layer beneath MapReduce known as YARN (Yet Another Resource Negotiator). With YARN, multiple Hadoop applications can run simultaneously, and big data mavens can move beyond batch processing -- so once again, Hadoop earned an award.

At InfoWorld, we also consider NoSQL databases to be part of the big data trend, mainly because of how easily they scale: Just add servers to a cluster and the database is replicated and distributed across as many nodes as you want to throw at it. This year we honored the NoSQL document database MongoDB, a favorite of Web applications developers. The graph NoSQL database Neo4j, intended to gain insight into the relationships among data elements, also snagged an award.

That's a big chunk of enterprise technology for one year, even though I've left a few winners for you to discover for yourself. Without the tireless efforts of InfoWorld Executive Editor Doug Dineley, who has run the Technology of the Year Awards from the beginning, rounding up the best enterprise tech every year would just be a nice idea. Kudos and salutations also go to the many experts who worked on this year's awards: James Borck, Brian Chee, Paul Ferrill, Jonathan Freeman, Victor Garza, Rick Grehan, Galen Gruman, Martin Heller, Woody Leonhard, Matt Prigge, Phil Rhodes, Keith Schultz, Paul Venezia, Peter Wayner, and Serdar Yegulalp.

This article, "Your guide to InfoWorld's best tech of the year," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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