The best hardware and software products of the year

InfoWorld's 2010 Technology of the Year Awards recognize the top solutions for business and IT professionals

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In a page straight out of the Microsoft playbook, Sun has quietly been building a live migration capability around the VirtualBox engine. The feature, dubbed Teleportation, first debuted with version 3.1 as a command-line function. Using a simple syntax, users can take a VM running under VirtualBox on one system and "teleport" it to another VirtualBox system, all the while preserving the VM's runtime state.

Needless to say, this is a huge development for Sun Microsystems, one that places it on a collision course with heavyweights VMware and Microsoft in the virtualized datacenter. But the most remarkable aspect of this story is how quickly the company has brought this virtualization platform along. In a little over a year, Sun has turned this relatively unknown fledgling from an obscure German software developer (Innotek) into a potent threat.

Our advice to VMware (and Microsoft): Be afraid. Be very afraid.

-- Randall C. Kennedy

Compellent Storage Center 4.2
From vendor to vendor, SAN storage systems generally share not only core functionality, but also what used to be considered advanced features, such as thin provisioning and local and remote replication. Compellent still offers features that many others don't. One of these is automated tiered storage, a data migration capability that EMC recently announced with a great deal of fanfare, several years after Compellent introduced it. Another is the ability to map multiple volumes to multiple virtual machines simultaneously. And yet another is consistency groups that allow easy setup of single LUNs mapped to multiple virtual machines for VMware VMotion and Microsoft Hyper-V Live Migration.

But what Compellent does better than other vendors is provide great ease-of-use and all the performance you could ask for at very moderate prices. In Compellent Storage Center, wizards make everyday tasks simple enough for untrained administrators to do, while a command-line scripting interface makes it simple for experienced admins to provision multiple LUNs with one step. Setting up a second Compellent Storage Center for remote replication of a local Storage Center is literally a matter of six clicks, and if the local SAN has a lot of data, there's an easy way to attach USB-based portable drives to seed the remote SAN without having to ship the whole rack around.

Extraordinary ease-of-use combined with great performance is the hallmark of the Compellent Storage Center, and the reason it once again wins InfoWorld's Technology of the Year Award.

-- Logan G. Harbaugh

Dell EqualLogic PS Series
Dell EqualLogic SANs subscribe to the concept of "Do one thing and do it well," and boy, do they do it well. EqualLogic SANs are iSCSI only -- no multiprotocol file serving such as NFS, CIFS, or any other doodads, just blazing fast iSCSI performance and a hugely scalable design that guarantees that you cannot add storage without adding requisite redundant bandwidth.

The attention to detail throughout the PS Series product line is exemplary. Upgrading the firmware on an EqualLogic SAN is very simple, and can be accomplished without taking the array offline at any point. If some components need their firmware flashed, the upgrade process takes care of the whole process from start to finish. The management GUI is as good as any other, and the SAN HQ software gives a wide view of all storage components, processes, and performance.

Dell also takes things a step further with their integrated backup hooks. You can link to specific Microsoft SQL Server databases for instance, arrange for snapshots to be taken of that file system on a regular basis, and automate the restoration of just that database should a failure occur.

There are more reasons why we like Dell EqualLogic SANs so much, but our position can be summed up with the simple statement that Dell EqualLogic has produced a simple, stable, and elegant storage framework that will bring peace of mind to any infrastructure.

-- Paul Venezia

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