Fave raves: IT pros' favorite products

Readers dish on their must-have network products

We asked readers about their favorite must-have network products and found there's a lot of love for products that can automate manual processes, improve visibility and management, and speed performance for end users. Products that save money are also, not surprisingly, big favorites.

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Why IT pros like their favorite gear

Fave raves 2009

Fave raves 2008

Fave raves 2007

Charles Chen

Why it's a favorite: "I personally think F5 ARX is a must have for IT, especially under current economic situations. It significantly simplifies unstructured data management tasks with a lot of cost saving features. F5 ARX has drastically reduced storage costs with its tiered approach to archive aged data to a more inexpensive disk array than high cost Fibre Channel disk arrays. Also, its non-disruptive migration amazingly provides us the agility to balance the workload without users knowing it. As an IT professional for 12 years, the file virtualization technology from F5 ARX totally gets my attention.”

Years in IT: 12

Upcoming IT project: Desktop virtualization

Rob Leon

Why it's a favorite: "It's a comprehensive framework to manage your IT infrastructure. It's easy to use, it's powerful, and it saves us time and money. It has revolutionized how we do IT in three main areas: support (client interface, problem resolution and project implementation), maintenance (patching, compliance, tuning) and management (reporting, planning, cost control)."

Years in IT: 23

Upcoming IT projects: Migrating to Windows 7 workstations and improving VMware management and reporting capabilities

Amanda Roberts

Why it's a favorite: "Stone Cobra uses Clarizen to manage both internal and external projects for clients, using all facets of the solution, from high level project process components to detailed task completion. The combination of speed, agility, cost benefit, license flexibility and e-mail functionality produces an invaluable tool for my business. Using Clarizen, Stone Cobra is saving close to $4,000 worth of billable hours by freeing the development team of days spent developing, maintaining and upgrading an internal SaaS project management application. As a company with long-term goals that require constant product development, we save up to 40 hours of opportunity, which to me is priceless."

Years in IT: 10

Upcoming IT project: Standardizing on Force.com for all internal applications

Peter Charbonneau

Why it's a favorite: Xangati "is unlike any other management product that I have ever worked with. It gives me a comprehensive view of everything happening on my network in real-time; I can then 'zoom' into any server, user, app, interface to find out what is actually going on. It is the first thing that I look at, and I continuously leverage it throughout my day on my screen. Its dashboard screen is so 'readable' that other groups, here, don't need an engineering degree to find it useful. Personally it has saved me endless wasted hours. Whether that is not having to run out and reconfigure some switch and port to 'sniff' for problematic traffic, or not squandering my evening hours by having to drive all the way back to campus to see what's happening in our network space. Other solutions were sending off alerts in the middle of the night, and I would have to go back to campus to then find out that there was actually really nothing wrong. Now with Xangati, from my home I can find out what is happening with the element that has gone red, and many, many times I save myself a wasted trip by being able to remotely determine the root cause and severity."

Years in IT: 20+

Upcoming IT project: Expanding virtualization deployments

Eloff Scholtz

Why it's a favorite: "Response times for applications were very bad. In particular, our employees found slow e-mail and Internet particularly frustrating. In addition to this, we work with a lot of Web-based applications for our public services, such as vehicle licensing, patient administration and exam systems. We needed to mitigate the latency and congestion we experienced over the network and required a technology solution that was both technically and economically efficient. With Expand's ability to provide us with virtual bandwidth, we have saved a lot of money that can now be reinvested for other purposes across the province."

Years in IT: 23

Upcoming IT project: Changing to broadband in the entire province and moving away from traditional telecommunication suppliers.

Brett Corporon

Why it's a favorite: "The Colorado Supreme Court and its departments benefit from AppRiver's CipherPost e-mail encryption service for several reasons. First, the product seamlessly integrated with our existing infrastructure, which made deployment hassle free for our IT staff. Second, it's easy to use. With a simple press of the 'Send Secure' button, our users achieve end-to-end security for their e-mail and mobile messages. It is so simple, in fact, that even the least tech-savvy individuals can send messages securely. Third, external committees (such as retired judges or opposing council) can receive -- and then respond to -- confidential communication without being a CipherPost customer. This helps to ensure complete protection. Fourth, the ability to move information seamlessly between parties without the need for costly infrastructure, hardware or software has given us the freedom to focus on other, more pressing IT tasks."

"Protecting the privacy of e-mail communication across all departments and business units can be challenging. Whether it's confidential case information or financial data in spreadsheets, our data needs to be kept private. On top of this, federal regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley and/or relevant state security statutes place an emphasis on ensuring that confidential and personal information is protected, wherever it resides. CipherPost has become our trusted communication tool because it offers proof of end-to-end secure delivery."

Years in IT: 20+

Upcoming IT project: Developing and deploying a new online attorney registration system. "I am excited because we designed it from scratch and I really think our constituency will enjoy the ease and convenience it offers."

Nathan Day

Why it's a favorite: "The NetScaler VPX is my favorite IT product that has come out in a while. I've been in the Internet hosting industry for 10+ years and have helped many, many customers with Web/Internet facing applications. The NetScaler VPX is amazing to me because it takes the traffic management features of the Citrix NetScaler appliance and puts it into a form factor that can be deployed in minutes and can be paid for by the month instead of making a large capital purchase. Both the deployment time and the expense model make this ideal for users that require a rapidly scalable infrastructure."

Years in IT: 10+

Upcoming IT project: Continuing to scale data/compute infrastructures

Wilibaldo Alvarez

Why it's a favorite: "For the most part, we have been able to take control of job scheduling across our different servers, from the most trivial jobs in a Windows server, to complex job plans to extract data, verify it, import it to our reporting servers and notify the users of the status of the data load. By using UC4 as a central repository for job scheduling, we are better able to manage planned or unplanned downtime in our servers. By using UC4 Operations Manager to create dependencies between jobs, even in different platforms (such as SAP, Windows), we have been able to reduce the length of the job runs. For instance, we were able to reduce some banking transactions from several hours to a few minutes."

Years in IT: 15

Upcoming IT projects: Deploying the open source search engine Solr

David Michel

Favorite product: "It allows me to work from home (or anywhere with a decent Internet connection) with acceptable performance. It has allowed our attorneys to work wherever they are needed and has cut down on travel time and expense as they no longer need to 'get back to the office' to get work done after meeting with clients or spending the day in court."

Years in IT: 16

Upcoming IT project: Implementing a new VoIP phone system with unified messaging

Andy Flesner

Why it's a favorite: "I love the KBOX, because it offers an efficient mixture of several systems while remaining simple to maintain and use. It has saved my understaffed department an enormous amount of time. We've been able to focus energy elsewhere since the KBOX also allows us to integrate several systems together: help desk, asset management, hardware and software inventory, software distribution, security patching, and reporting. This has dramatically improved efficiency within the department, and supporting our users has become easier than ever."

Years in IT: 6

Upcoming IT projects: Converting older databases into custom asset types in the KBOX. "This will allow us to link the different databases together in such a way that will allow for very dynamic reporting."

Lucas Savage

Why it's a favorite: "The EDS32PR is a very stable device that has allowed us greater control over our medical device data collection processes, which in turn enables our medical professionals to make more informed decisions related to patient care. It has the customizability that we require in order to collect data from a wide range of devices."

Years in IT: 7

Upcoming IT project: Deploying the EDS32PR in new locations within the hospital network

Patrick McFadin

Why it's a favorite: "This is the workhorse of our infrastructure. We are a SaaS provider for higher education, and Web traffic management is critical to our product delivery. On top of helping us save money with things like compression and SSL offload, we use the iRules to pull off a lot of traffic kung fu. Things like HTTP payload inspection and intelligent redirects allow us to make changes and not impact our customers."

Years in IT: 23

Upcoming IT projects: Deploying Splunk

Suikam Kwok

Why it's a favorite: The C-Series and N-Series switches are "very reliable and cost effective products. Enterasys stands above other switching vendors in integrating policy-based security to the switch port. It also helps implement security to the switch port at a lower cost than other vendors and with a very simple software management."

Years in IT: 24

Upcoming IT projects: NAC implementation

Doug Turnbull

Why it's a favorite: "GTD has a number of useful features to automate the process of classifying Hitachi's products and to maintain complete, 'audit-ready' records to support each classification decision. For every product, the GTD system allows us to maintain detailed product information, attach correspondence and relevant documents such as spec sheets and drawings, link directly to rulings and explanatory notes used to support the HTS classification, and securely maintain all of the information on GTD's server. We can customize the data that each user has access to and easily send e-mail or assign tasks to anyone on the GTD system. An activity log tracks all actions taken on each item."

"GTD has been a tremendous help in moving Hitachi away from our previous form-driven, disjointed system to a single, up-to-date platform that all import/export personnel can access. It has streamlined our communications, eliminated the need for each business group to maintain separate product records, made it easier to update information more efficiently, and enabled us to readily access information from any location at any time. It has been well worth the investment."

Did any of these IT pros mention your favorite IT product? Share your own rave in the comments section below.

Related stories:

Why IT pros like their favorite gear

Fave raves 2009

Fave raves 2008

Fave raves 2007