Best of Interop 2009 Winners Announced, any surprise winners?

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The product can be deployed in a multitenancy mode, which is ideal for service providers that want to provide monitoring information to multiple customers. Enterprises can use the multitenancy deployment for chargebacks to different departments, or to set up separate monitoring interfaces for various private clouds.

The product also lets administrators perform end-to-end polling of public cloud applications. It uses an agent installed at a user site. Administrators use the agent to check availability and latency of SaaS applications such as Salesforce, or for applications running on public cloud services such as Amazon's EC2. - Andrew Conry-Murray

Performance Optimization: Expand Networks - Virtual Accelerator

Category Judges: InformationWeek

Mike Fratto –

Larry Chaffin - Pluto Networks

Expands Virtual Accelerator brings application acceleration into virtualized environments in a meaningful way by leveraging the strengths of virtualization—resource sharing and application mobility. The Virtual Accelerator, starting at $995, is a full feature soft appliance that runs on VMWare’s line of hypervisors from workstation through ESX Server 3 and includes support for layer 4-7 acceleration, advanced compression, and wide area file services.

WAN optimization advanced compression caches data to disk which is used to compress the traffic on the wire. If the virtual appliance is configured to use the SAN available to the hypervisor, Virtual Accelerators can be added or moved to another hypervisor connected to the same SAN and start using the existing disk cache immediately. That means in the event of a computer hardware failure, a new virtual appliance can be running with a warm cache in the time it takes to create a new instance—a few minutes. The Virtual Accelerator also benefits from VMware’s high availability to be restarted on a separate server in the event of hardware failure and distributed resource scheduler to be managed without IT intervention.

It costs per remote office rise linearly as more offices are added. One way organizations are reducing costs is through consolidating applications back to a data center and reducing computers in the office. Using virtualization to consolidate critical resources onto a single platform makes sense and fitting in Expands Virtual Accelerator as one more service reduces another remote system. Expands Virtual Accelerator solves practical IT issues and leverages the flexibility and versatility of virtualization and that is why it won Best of Interop’s Performance Optimization category. – Mike Fratto

Security: CHARGE Anywhere - CHARGE Anywhere PCI Security Solution

Category Judges: InformationWeek

Tim Wilson – Dark Reading/

Andrew Braunberg – Current Analysis, Inc.

This year our judges have picked what may be a dark horse winner in the Security category: Charge Anywhere. It is a third-party service that basically allows small businesses to handle credit card data in a manner that makes them PCI-compliant right out of the box.

We chose Charge Anywhere because PCI compliance is a huge problem for the retail and banking industries, and small business is the greatest weak spot in the credit card chain – it is estimated that fewer than 25 percent of small businesses are PCI compliant, and some estimates go as low as 10 percent. The Charge Anywhere service makes it possible for all small businesses to achieve the same level of PCI compliance as major retailers, but at a price that isn’t much more than a phone bill. A service like this could really make a difference in how many small companies comply with PCI – and take the credit card data out of their hands, eliminating a major entry point for identity theft and other forms of computer crime.

From a technical perspective, Charge Anywhere is unique. The company has spent four years essentially building a Level-1-compliant data center that can accept input from all types of credit-card-processing devices – point of sale terminals of all different vendors and types, mobile devices used by fleet services and retailers at trade shows, even desktop PCs or Blackberries. Although there are some PCI compliance offerings on the back end (mainly credit card processors), and at the retailer end (mostly POS terminals and associated services), this is the only service that offers PCI compliance on both ends *without* forcing the retailer to change the hardware or software they use for handling credit cards. And because it’s a service, it doesn’t require the end user to know anything about PCI compliance or security, and it essentially eliminates all need for the small business to get itself in trouble by storing personal credit card data.

We could’ve picked another enterprise box or appliance, but this is the one thing that we saw that was truly *different* that also meets a crying need in the market, and also is transformational in the way it affects the everyday operations of the businesses that use it. – Tim Wilson

Wireless & Mobility: Aruba – 600-Series Branch Office Controllers

Category Judges: InformationWeek

Michael Brandenburg -

David Molta – Syracuse University

Traditionally, deploying networks to remote sites meant a lot of work for IT personnel. Many times, the gear is brought in house, configured, repackaged, and finally shipped back out to the remote site. Installation typically involves putting an IT person onsite, adding travel expenses and lost productivity to the costs of the remote deployment.

Aruba’s 600 Series Branch Office Controllers mitigate many of these pain points of delivering wireless and wired network to branch locations and remote sites. The controllers, part of Aruba’s Virtual Branch Networking architecture, can be configured by having remote users simply enter the web address of the central WLAN controller. A secure VPN link is created and all wired and wireless configuration, user security policies, and the remote site is brought online, without putting IT boots on the ground.

If there is trouble, a simplified diagnostic page helps remote users quickly relay the status to the network administrators, and if necessary, reset the controller to factory fresh and reload from the main controller. Combined with options for network attached storage, 3G cellular connectivity, and wireless mesh services, the Aruba 600 Branch Office Controller covers all the bases for a branch office in a box solution, no matter where the branch office may be.

As many enterprises transition from traditional offices and cube farms to remote sites, virtual offices, and telecommuting, the benefits of Aruba’s zero-touch remote management are clear: simplified configuration and management, reduced deployment costs, and minimizing the hardware footprint of remote locations. – Michael Brandenburg

Best Start Up Company: Rhomobile – Rhodes

Category Judge: InformationWeek

John Foley –

So many smartphones, so little time, what's an application developer to do? Rhomobile's open source framework may be the answer. Rhomobile's Ruby-based framework, called Rhodes, lets developers write applications in HTML for five of the most popular smartphone operating environments: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian, and Windows Mobile.

If ever an argument was to be made for a write-once, run-anywhere approach, smartphones are it. Businesses have a hard time mandating that employees use a standard mobile device, and, given the many great options out there, why should they? The trick isn't to limit user choice, but to develop capabilities for a variety of platforms efficiently. Rhomobile lets you do that.

For all of these reasons—its openness, portability, and, with HTML, familiarity—Rhomobile is our choice for the best startup at Interop. The privately held company is located in Silicon Valley and has received venture funding from vSpring Capital.

Rhodes 1.0 was introduced in March. The framework allows access to smartphone capabilities such as GPS, personal contacts, SMS push, and camera, works with software-as-a-service applications, and supports offline work via a synchronized local data store.

Because Rhomobile is startup, it has few named customers and not much of a track record. For those reasons, potential customers should exercise due diligence and spend time with the Rhodes framework before getting in too deep. That said, Rhodes is a promising solution to a common smartphone dilemma. - John Foley

Green Award: Cisco – Cisco EnergyWise

Category Judge: InformationWeek

Steven Hill –

Every year we’re delighted to see more and more companies nominating new products that are designed with energy efficiency in mind. This is a great thing when you consider the scale of modern data centers, and we’re seeing even more enlightened vendors extending their green initiatives to include their manufacturing practices, packaging and end-of-life strategies to reduce their impact overall impact on the environment.

This year’s Green Category winner - Cisco EnergyWise – is a surprising new centralized energy management initiative by Cisco designed to extend energy monitoring and management capabilities well beyond their own products. With the January 2009 purchase of intelligent middleware company Richards-Zeta Building Intelligence, Inc., Cisco laid the foundation for a long-term strategy that leverages capabilities of many of their switching and routing products as a communication platform to monitor, measure and control the energy use of systems and devices throughout the enterprise.

Beginning in March of this year, Cisco has offered a free firmware patch for a number of Catalyst products to enable device communication and discovery for this project, but this is only part of a much larger and aggressive concept to establish role-based energy monitoring and management capabilities for Ethernet devices like IP phones, computers, printers and wireless endpoints.

From a big-picture standpoint, this system is also envisioned to be extensible to virtually any network-enabled system such as lighting, HVAC and other facility-wide control devices. In their goal to establish such a complex and broad power management platform it appears that Cisco is going to great lengths to offer an open API on their end, as well as remaining adaptable to API’s from existing IP-manageable systems. This also applies to the top level, where the EnergyWise system can be managed by either Cisco’s Network Management products or a third-party energy management solution. Their plan for utilizing your existing infrastructure for energy management can lead to greater energy efficiency/lower costs for you, a cleaner planet for us and wins Cisco the 2009 Interop Green Award. - Steven Hill

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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