Top technologies of the year

Highlighting the most enterprising products in the enterprise

Welcome to our first issue of the year. For those of you who took a break, re-entry into the heady universe of work may be a bit discombobulating. Fortunately, last Saturday, the world’s ever-considerate timekeepers saw fit to give us an extra sliver of time -- a leap second-- to prep for the new year. And now, with the pop of the cork (or was that the buzz of a pager?), we’re ready to herald 2006, a potential banner year for the enterprise.

Why the optimism? Because despite some gloomy trends -- a still-wavering economy; consolidation mania, as tech vendor eats tech vendor; more targeted security threats; and an insatiable corporate appetite for outsourcing and offshoring -- IT innovation has never looked stronger. As Test Center Executive Editor Doug Dineley sees it, “The rise of industry-standard hardware, virtualization coming of age, smarter development tools, more flexible middleware, and the increasing breadth and power of hosted services and open source alternatives all serve to breathe life into the industry.”

And that happy fact leads us, inexorably, to our annual Technology of the Year Awards, a celebration of the most innovative enterprise products and technologies.

For this year’s go-round, Dineley and the InfoWorld Test Center considered all the hardware and software they had evaluated in 2005. Even so, the Technology of the Year Awards look forward, not back. The goal: to identify those products most likely to shake up the IT establishment in 2006 and beyond.

All 46 award recipients, spread over 45 critical technology categories, meet that mandate. They’ve proved themselves in the InfoWorld labs and in enterprise networks and datacenters, then survived months of additional poking, prodding, debate, and deliberation, courtesy of the Test Center experts.

The winners are truly the cream of the crop … and a harbinger of good things to come for the new year.