Best of the tests

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Selected from a field of 240-plus, the 14 winners of our Best of the Tests Award deserve a standing ovation for stellar performances sure to improve any corporate network.

We're a week shy of the Academy Awards, the Hollywood gala featuring superstars in their glittery Versace gowns and Armani tuxes. While you won't find any sequins here, our 2003 Best of the Tests Award does honor comparably big winners - stars of the computer screen, you could say.

Through this Best of the Tests Award, our fifth annual, we honor the products that performed exceptionally well in our tests last year. The winners all have survived rigorous, hands-on testing in one - sometimes two or three if it's a distributed evaluation - of our 14 Network World Lab Alliance  partner facilities or in Senior Reviews Editor Keith Shaw's lab. All, too, offer critical network services.

In 2003, we tested more than 240 products from more than 200 vendors.

To narrow that wide field to our 61 finalists, we considered how the products fared in comparative tests on performance, management capabilities and ease of use. We also accounted for unique features that lifted any product above the fray.

Once we had our finalists, we then selected which specific product deserved the Best of the Tests honor. We considered the overall usefulness of the products when deployed in a large-scale network, and those that had multiple tools for getting the job done weighted greater than point products focused on a single task.

Products fell into these categories:

  • Anti-spam:  Software tools.

  • Convergence:  IP PBX management wares; IP PBX remote user support; VoIP analysis tools.

  • LAN management:  LAN monitoring tools; desktop and server management products; mobile device management products; remote control software.

  • Messaging and collaboration: Instant messaging software; collaborative workspace products; messaging servers; videoconferencing products.

  • Network infrastructure: Gigabit and 10G Ethernet switches and routers; blade servers.

  • Operating systems: Windows; Linux; NetWare; Apple OS/X.

  • Security infrastructure: Intrusion-detection systems; Web application firewalls; VPN gear.

  • Security management: Security event managers; patch management software; security policy management products; client security management wares.

  • Storage: Director-class switches; workgroup and enterprise NAS devices.

  • WAN management: WAN management and monitoring tools; traffic compression devices.

  • Wireless: Switches; access points; WLAN analyzers; applications.

  • SMB networks: Wireless gear; server appliances; storage products.

  • Cool Tools: High-tech gizmos.

And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for. To see what products the awards go to, click on the above links.

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