Fave Raves: 33 tech pros share their favorite IT products

What IT pros like, in their own words

It takes many tools to keep IT systems running smoothly, and tech pros have their personal favorites. What made the cut? Everything from security products and mobile device management tools to data analytics and cloud services. If your favorite tech product didn't make the list, tell us about it.

Why it's a favorite: “The ability to track, lock, and limit usage of our deployed devices with this product is immeasurable. It has decreased workers spending company money on irrelevant apps, it has increased productivity by not allowing for personal use. It has helped me to track and locate or lock and wipe stolen or lost devices.”

Years in IT: 13

Upcoming IT projects: Expanding use of Mojave Professional to internal company devices.

Why it's a favorite: “I’m a visual person, and the ability to represent IT data as a dynamic dashboard is a vast improvement over previous methods. With McAfee SIEM [Security Information and Event Management], I can consolidate and centralize the visibility into our many system management tools. Each area of IT can use the solutions that meet their requirements, while IT Security can minimize the number of solutions we need to be proficient with in order to protect our organization. The time saved in processing raw IT data into actionable events allows us to focus on other important business objectives.”

Years in IT: 24

Upcoming IT projects:  A return to data-centric security; new tools that can secure and manage digital information.

Why it's a favorite: “We use Identity Finder’s Sensitive Data Manager to search over 24,000 Mac and Windows systems for Personally Identifiable Information. This enterprise solution is critical in helping us to manage sensitive information across our institution’s databases, file shares, web servers, and other key (often unknown) locations. We discover any data that has social security numbers or credit card numbers, and then classify it so it can be handled appropriately. Sensitive Data Manager makes the daunting task of finding and remediating PII in any size enterprise a much more manageable and organized process.”

Years in IT: 14

Upcoming IT projects: Using SDM’s Linux client to scan data that was more difficult to enumerate across the enterprise.

Why it's a favorite: “Keeping pace with the consumerization of IT, I was motivated to find a user-friendly solution that would enhance productivity in my workplace by allowing for the remote sharing and collaboration of information. kiteworks by Accellion does just that. This mobile-first interface allows my employees and me to put the most important items at the forefront of our workflow while also securing corporate data. One feature that I find most beneficial is the three-tier cloud architecture with separate authentication required at each layer. Mobile and network security continue to be one of the biggest concerns for businesses. Kiteworks puts those concerns to rest with its added security layers.”

Years in IT: 13

Upcoming IT projects: Continue providing new mobile solutions to make teams more productive.

Why it's a favorite: “Our biggest challenge has always been delivering files to our remote offices and making sure we have accurate backups of the data from those remote offices. With Nasuni, the gold copy of all new project data is stored in the cloud, and each office has an appliance that connects them to the service. Backup is automatic, the most frequently used files are cached locally, and changes are always synced across all our offices. Our associates love having access to the latest files, no matter what office they're working in.”

Years in IT: 16

Upcoming IT projects: Increasing bandwidth between offices.

Why it's a favorite: “I love the StealthWatch system for several reasons: low impact on network bandwidth (NetFlow); easy integration with existing network infrastructure; security analytics provide intelligence from reams of data and are second to none; visualization and mapping for non-technical audience or NOC screens; and correlation of identity with network behavior. We were able to quickly deploy the StealthWatch solution and get essential and efficient visibility into WAN behavior, as well as baked-in security intelligence. We were able to use it to demonstrate visibility and contextual monitoring of PCI data flows. StealthWatch is now an integral component of our security, compliance and NOC toolkits.”

Years in IT: 18

Upcoming IT projects: “Consolidating multiple domains and focusing on data protection.”

Why it's a favorite: “When McKesson first brought in ExtraHop, we were skeptical. A lot of other tools had promised comprehensive visibility into our hosting environment, and yet we always seemed to find ourselves in the dark. The epiphany came when ExtraHop helped to solve long-running performance issues with our applications delivered over Citrix XenApp. After a simple, quick installation of the ExtraHop appliance, we easily uncovered the root cause of the problem in under 10 minutes. With ExtraHop, our troubleshooting process is 90% faster, and we’re far less reliant on specialist skills. ExtraHop has also saved us money in terms of SLA penalty payouts.”

Years in IT: Scott Checkoway, 20+ years; Doug McMartin, 16 years

Upcoming IT projects: Extending ExtraHop into other lines of business.

Why it's a favorite: “Over the past ten years, we’ve grown a lot. IT has needed to keep up with this growth, so we’ve aggressively embraced virtualization. We have more than 450 VMs, and they all need to be backed up, both to ensure operations run continuously and comply with regulatory requirements. But our physical backup solution couldn’t keep up with the needs of our modernized data center. Today, we backup up our VMs with Veeam. As a result, we have cut the size of our backup by 82%, and a restoration that used to take two hours now takes just 14 minutes.”

Years in IT: 11

Upcoming IT projects: Virtual desktop infrastructure.

Why it's a favorite: “As BAT operates in 186 countries, BAT’s gateways had evolved over time to consist of 40 different Internet gateways with products from various vendors. In response to the non-standard environment, BAT had a locked-down approach to Internet browsing. This created user dissatisfaction, which was aggravated by the high latency resulting from the need to VPN into the BAT infrastructure and the associated back-hauling of Internet traffic. With Zscaler, users can go direct to the internet without VPN-ing into the office infrastructure with user traffic being routed to the closest node in the Zscaler’s network. This provides a fast user experience with near zero traffic latency and has enabled BAT to provide methods to ‘protect’ BYOD.”

Years in IT: 15

Upcoming IT projects: IT governance, risk and compliance (GRC).

Why it's a favorite: “CounterACT provides Rollins College with superior visibility and management of all types of devices ranging from traditional laptops and desktops to gaming and media devices. It also gives us the ability to automatically detect and isolate compromised devices from the network. Plus it is non-disruptive and provides end user-friendly guest networking capabilities, which is a big plus for our students and faculty. And from an IT perspective, we see a direct return on investment in IT man-hours due to ease of management and a decrease in help desk calls.”

Years in IT: 9

Upcoming IT projects: Moving several systems to a Linux environment. “I also expect to see increased stability for systems that are critical to our campus community.”

Why it's a favorite: “I now love my storage. The Pure Storage SSD SAN performs inline compression, deduplication, and encryption of all virtual machine data before writing it to solid state drives. We have more than 100,000 IOPS at my disposal with less than 1 millisecond of latency for both reads and writes. And with a 5.9 to 1 data reduction level, this SSD shared storage solution costs the same as a hybrid/tiered SSD+HDD solution from much larger providers. It is also much easier and enjoyable to administer than any other storage solution I have encountered.”

Years in IT: 10

Upcoming IT projects: Upgrading VMware vSphere ESXi hosts to support anew 10 gig network.

Why it's a favorite: “DB Networks’ IDS [database security appliance] gives us a single source of truth for a variety of IT operations management and software development tasks that focus strictly on database. With this solution we now have tangible, real-time evidence of our database usage behaviors and deployments – beyond simple license footprint discovery. We’ve already recognized savings from database server consolidation, and we are making smarter decisions for server placement across data centers to optimize performance and capacity based on where the need actually happens.”

Years in IT: 30

Upcoming IT projects: Incorporating behavior-based IT operations data into our analytics capability; extending delivery to a unified smartphone app.

Why it's a favorite: “Co3 is robust, cost-effective, and provides me an out-of-band repository and action system for security incident response. This is crucial, in particular for an incident response system, because it means that I don't have to worry about the sanctity of my internal system which, after all, may also be breached. In addition, the information provided by the Co3 Systems Privacy Module saves time. Time is of the essence in security incident.”

Years in IT: 14

Upcoming IT projects: “Deploying a robust business continuity and disaster recovery system that will improve our uptime.”

Why it's a favorite: “FireMon quickly painted a picture of our network in a way we can understand. FireMon enables us to efficiently and effectively assess our network for complexity and risk by monitoring our devices in real time. It helped make our network layer PCI obligations fast, simple and easy. The workflow module, Policy Planner, helps us assess changes before implementation to prevent introducing risks into our environment while dynamically mapping justifications to each control within our access control lists. Since the solution is easy to use, it has made our discovery, understanding, and revision work very efficient and effective with results we can visualize.”

Years in IT: 12

Upcoming IT projects: Advanced threat protection and network forensics.

Why it's a favorite: “As an on-premise SharePoint Administrator, ControlPoint fills several gaps that are not available out of the box regarding SharePoint user administration and governance. ControlPoint is a fast, fluid, and easy to use product that provides necessary reporting on such items as user permissions, usage and auditing, as well as system configuration. Using ControlPoint to enforce governance policies has been instrumental in my ability to manage data sprawl and protect our environment from becoming unusable over time. I am also able to easily verify system configurations between test and production environments, as well as between our on premise and cloud environments.”

Years in IT: 14

Upcoming IT projects: Re-architecting our SharePoint environment as we move data into the cloud.

Why it's a favorite: “Every law firm is looking for ways to manage client data and e-discovery from both a cost and security perspective. Using Evolve IP’s cloud [for virtual servers, data retention and business continuity], we were one of the first law firms to be able to bring the top review software, Relativity, a leading e-discovery platform, in-house resulting in significant cost-savings for our clients in the 30%-40% range. We are able to offer our clients a secure way to store their data that meets all industry standards, keep costs down, and maintain the freedom and flexibility we need as a growing company.”

Years in IT: Richard Pachella, 17 years; David Walton, 10 years

Upcoming IT projects: Increased accessibility, including mobile, to the Relativity platform.

Why it's a favorite: “In January 2013, Scotts transitioned from Microsoft Outlook to the Enterprise Google Apps suite. Not only did we move our data from one system to another, we fundamentally changed how associates, external collaborators and third-party applications gained access to our data. This shift to the cloud created a new distributed security perimeter for our data. CloudLock’s collaboration suite helped us grow and evolve in the collaboration security space as we adapt to the constant changes in the technology landscape, measure adoption of our new tools, and ultimately how we protect our enterprise by identifying and minimizing risk exposures.”

Years in IT: 8

Upcoming IT projects: BYOD initiative. "CloudLock will be a key player in the future of this project.”

Why it's a favorite: “eyeShare is the most flexible IT tool that I have worked with in my 25 years in IT. You can automate almost anything with this tool in most databases, operating systems, etc. eyeShare has saved us a lot of work hours over the years.”

Years in IT: 25

Upcoming IT projects: “Automation, automation, automation…”

Why it's a favorite: “K2 provides an organization with the tools needed to build and run business applications with codeless modern web forms, robust workflows, relevant data and meaningful reports. Developers can quickly build production-ready responsive web applications in a fraction of the time compared to custom development. I am a developer and coder at heart, but being able to develop faster and provide a better experience for my customers is what being a developer is all about. K2's robust workflow technology helps to automate and manage real business processes and provide metrics such as bottlenecks and average processing time, which helps customers be more successful.”

Years in IT: 10

Upcoming IT projects: Integrating disparate data sources including MS Exchange, a CRM system and a resource pool database.

Why it's a favorite: “Marist utilizes state-of-the-art mainframe technology in an arena usually cluttered with distributed systems. With over 1,000 virtual servers running on one mainframe, and a few specialty servers, IT staff can provision courses, virtual labs, web sites, and almost any other electronic resource to college users immediately and at an extremely low per instance cost. Managing technology isn’t a core discipline for all schools – but it is for Marist. The advent of zLinux opened a whole new world in terms of all kinds of software to run on mainframes.”

Years in IT: 30+

Upcoming IT projects: “Massive virtualization of enterprise systems!”

Why it's a favorite: “KEMP’s LoadMaster application delivery controller gives us the ability to load-balance thousands of web/SSH traffic. The SSL offloading enables us to minimize resource utilization and helps us consolidate our servers. The ease of use and intuitive interface that KEMP’s LoadMaster provides has allowed for us to fully take advantage of all resources that are at our hands and provide the best services possible.

Years in IT: 24

Upcoming IT projects: “I am most excited about a datacenter build to provide IaaS.”

Why it's a favorite: “Strong market demand for affordable solar leasing solutions means rapidly expanding operations at OneRoof Energy. ClickSoftware helps us to optimize our mobile workforce performance and customer experience by harnessing the power of social and mobile cloud technologies. ClickWorkforce on the Salesforce AppExchange makes it easy to centrally manage and synchronize customer relationship activities no matter how expansive the customer base or high-volume or complex the work requests. Now we can provide a same-day response to appointment requests, and more easily assign and route field resources.”

Years in IT: 9

Upcoming IT projects: “Make it easier, faster and more economical for a homeowner in the U.S. to go solar by providing them with an easy to use and guided online platform.”

Why it's a favorite: “Good for Enterprise makes it easy to secure our company information and manage the mobile devices in our network by placing the corporate data in a secure container that separates it from the rest of the smartphone. The design of the product also makes it easy for our employees to use so they don’t require training from IT to get up and running.”

Years in IT: 15+

Upcoming IT projects: “I am most excited about exploring how we can take the next step with our mobility strategy and use Good’s products to help our employees work smarter by providing them with mobile apps that are easy to manage, secure, and use.”

Why it's a favorite: “SteadyServ is reinventing the draft beer inventory process. Our goal is to make sure bars and restaurants never run out of draft beer. We needed a partner who could help us invent an inventory tagging system to store the beer name, brewer, born on date, and other info in an RFID tag attached to a keg.  Identiv was that partner. It has the needed short range write/read capability that was needed for our application. It also has the memory we need for the data we have to store. It can be embedded into a paper/poly ‘airline luggage’ label that can be printed for each keg.”

Years in IT: 20

Upcoming IT projects: Fine-tuning the SteadyServ iKeg hardware and software.

Why it's a favorite: “In order to benefit from the increased productivity and flexibility the mobile revolution can provide, organizations need the ability to effectively manage employees’ devices, without expending valuable time and resources. LogMeIn helps them do that by maximizing mobility, connectivity and business productivity, providing a hands-free approach to managing mobility so they can focus their resources on their core business. It helps me deal with the complexities of mobile strategy, providing remote access capability and a hands-free service to shorten resolution time.”

Years in IT: 25

Upcoming IT projects: “Mobile app development that will make the business end user more productive and provide additional layers of security for our business.”

Why it's a favorite: “We have over 150 servers deployed across two primary data centers in the U.S., and smaller data centers in 18 different countries around the world. We standardize everything on Ubuntu Linux. We chose Ubuntu specifically because we like the philosophy and design decisions of Debian, but wanted the support and reliability that Ubuntu offers through its commercial backing by Canonical. This has allowed us to solve many weird and wonderful problems without needing to get into the details of Linux kernel and drivers, so we can focus on building our own products.”

Years in IT: 12

Upcoming IT projects: “Optimizing our infrastructure to take advantage of the latest cloud-based technologies like more efficient, cheaper compute instances and scalable data stores.”

Why it's a favorite: “The product runs at a very low overhead for the amount of data and insight it provides, and it provides transaction visibility from the client’s browser all the way through the presentation, services, and database layers. No other product on the market that I evaluated -- and I evaluated eight other products -- gave this level of visibility for 100% of the transactions at such a low overhead. Compuware APM [application performance management] has been a game changer for us.”

Years in IT: 16

Upcoming IT projects: DevOps modernization within our infrastructure.

Why it's a favorite: “The LogRhythm solution provides us with the features, high-availability, recognition by our audit team for the cost we need. The powerful reporting and highly configurable alerting greatly reduces the amount of time spent by our internal IT staff gathering evidence of our compliance with 164 line items that include federal requirements, sub-requirements and sub-sub-requirements set to reduce the risks and impacts associated with cyber-attacks and ensure the reliability of the bulk electric system.”

Years in IT: 15

Upcoming IT projects: “Implementing SANS’ Top 20 Critical Security Controls and leveraging LogRhythm’s Advanced Intelligence (AI) Engine to get real-time visibility to our risks, threats and critical operations issues.”

Why it's a favorite: “All-in-one solution. Quick setup. Excellent support. Many standard features. Highly customizable. Provision of multi-channel contact center solutions that have opened up new business opportunities and revenue streams, including web-chat, email and 2-way SMS.”

Years in IT: 15

Upcoming IT projects: Contact center upgrades, increased rollout of SMS in the call center.

Why it's a favorite: “CloudBees lets us do our Jenkins CI builds in the cloud, then immediately deploy our working apps to the cloud. When application development and deployment gets as easy as running on your local machine, it changes the way you think about building applications and services. You start to build apps that are decoupled at a service level and build on the strength of the Cloudbees stack and a framework like Play 2. This gives you the power and the ability to innovate and deploy without worrying about environments and infrastructure scalability.”

Years in IT: 24

Upcoming IT projects: “Expanding our API and technology to allow app developers to user our API to monetize their apps.”

Why it's a favorite: “Ability to easily manage our backups locally, centrally, or in the cloud from multiple remote sites using the same stable platform. We've been able to replace old technology using a cost-effective approach.”

Years in IT: 23

Upcoming IT projects: Consolidation and virtualization projects.