2nd Annual eXcellence Awards Winners & Finalists

 
 
By eweek  |  Posted 2002-03-04
 
 
 

2nd Annual eXcellence Awards Winners & Finalists


Business Management: Analytics & Reporting
Winner Informatica Corp. Informatica Applications 5
Finalists Adaytum Inc. e.Planning 2.0
MicroStrategy Inc. MicroStrategy 7.1.3

Its been said that whats measured matters, so it must follow that the tools that make the measurements are among any IT builders most important technology choices.

The Analytics & Reporting category drew a generally well-proven field of 32 product and service entries, all hoping to measure up for eXcellence Awards honors.

The eXcellence Awards judges faced an eclectic set of entries, ranging from DemandTec Inc.s outward-looking tools for real-time price optimization to MRO Software Inc.s inward-looking tools for incentive compensation. Established reporting engines such as Crystal Decisions Inc.s Crystal Enterprise also bore the judges careful evaluation.

The category finalists, however, all come from the most complex, challenging and risky segment of this category: the unified data integration and analysis environment that becomes the combat information center of the enterprise thats looking for an edge.

The judges were impressed by the huge data capacity of finalist MicroStrategy 7 from MicroStrategy, and by the thin-client convenience and back-end database neutrality of co-finalist e.Planning from Adaytum.

Winning this Analytics & Reporting category, though, were the workflow features, the open Java 2 Enterprise Edition/XML foundations and the multiplatform data access strengths of Informaticas Applications 5 integration and analysis suite. Peter Coffee

Application


& Web Services Development">

 

Business Management: Application & Web Services Development
Winner Iona Technologies plc. Orbix E2A Web Services Platform 5.0
Finalists Microsoft Corp. Visual Studio .Net
Rational Software Corp. Rational ClearCase 2002

Application & Web Services Development attracted an impressive field of 65 entries, more than any other category in this years eXcellence Awards program. Going beyond the usual suspects of programming and process management tools, the judges also noted the entry of third-party services that offered real-time intelligence off the shelf as raw material for strategic enterprise projects.

Our finalists addressed different facets of the application development challenge. Microsofts Visual Studio .Net redefines the category of integrated development environments, with its portal-like packaging of Web service resources in addition to its comprehensive development tools. However, its formidable learning curve, and maturity issues that were all too quickly noticed in the spotlight of the products gala launch, kept it off the top step of the podium.

Rational Softwares ClearCase demanded the judges attention with return-on-investment figures in the hundreds of percent for several enterprise case studies. Without the configuration management discipline embodied in this type of product, no enterprise should even think of embarking on a services-based transformation of its application base. We were restrained, though, by doubts that small-to-midsize companies would be able to afford the commitment of various resources that ClearCase demands.

The category winner, Ionas Orbix E2A Web Services Platform 5.0, got the nod by preserving IT buyer choice while aiding mastery of Web services complexity. Rather than going to the mat in the war between Java 2 Enterprise Edition and .Net, Iona has leveraged its impressive track record in distributed object management into an effective integrating tool that lets buyers use the best features of more than one Web services framework. That makes developers winners. Peter Coffee

Customer Relationship Management


 

Business Management: Customer Relationship Management
Winner E.piphany Inc. E.piphany Service
Finalists Applix Inc. Applix iCRM 8.2
RightNow Technologies Inc. RightNow Web eService Center 5.0

The two most important things on most companies collective minds right now are how to retain customers and how to acquire new ones.

CRM applications attempt to help companies track, attract, manage, interact with and support customers, as well as ensure that customers are satisfied.

Customer relationship management is often used as a label for a type of product, but CRM encompasses many different kinds of products and disciplines. The products entered into this category included traditional CRM applications, call center management packages and fulfillment solutions.

The judges based their decisions for the finalists on how well the entrants could be integrated into existing enterprise architectures, the ability for the packages to provide analytical detail of customer interactions, the capability of the packages reporting mechanisms and how soon corporations could benefit from implementation. Its an admittedly tough category to judge because CRM packages often require changes across business processes, typically take weeks to implement and are highly customizable by nature.

The finalists in this category all have excellent capabilities for integrating into existing enterprise infrastructures. Applixs iCRM—which comprises modules for help desk, analytics, service and support, and marketing and sales automation—includes an XML-compliant developer tool. RightNow Web eService Center 5.0 enables companies to set up customer service centers within their infrastructure. The product integrates with phone systems, e-mail and chat, and lets companies post a central knowledge base of facts and data to help desk workers.

Of all the contestants, though, E.piphany best demonstrated how its solution enables companies to utilize customer-driven data in all its forms to improve services provided to those customers. The judges specifically focused on E.piphanys trend-setting analytical capabilities, which show rich and detailed information. E.piphany tends to be more expensive than its competition, but it is more modular and comprehensive. Thats why Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., Hard Rock Cafe International Inc. and Hilton Hotels Corp. chose E.piphany, and thats why the eWeek judges and Corporate Partners did as well. John Taschek

Portals


& Knowledge Management">

 

Business Management: Portals & Knowledge Management
Winner Epicentric Inc. Epicentric Foundation Server 4.0
Finalists IBM WebSphere Portal 2.0
Microsoft Corp. SharePoint Portal Server 2001

One of the most intriguing categories of enterprise applications during the last few years has been enterprise information portals and knowledge management. With their potential ability to centralize company information and data, increase collaboration, and tie together diverse applications, portals and KM systems can provide a big payoff.

The products entered in this category provided an excellent view of this important enterprise area, and since it is still a growing category, each of the products had clear strengths and weaknesses to differentiate from the others.

The judges chose IBMs WebSphere Portal as a finalist because of its strong personalization, collaboration and KM features, many of which are made possible through excellent integration with other IBM and Lotus applications.

Microsofts SharePoint was a finalist due to the ease with which a company can get up and running with it, and because of its excellent collaboration and KM features.

Epicentrics Foundation Server edged out the other contenders to become the winner in this category because of its extreme scalability and flexibility, due mostly to its extensive support for XML and other open standards. In the portal world, this kind of openness is key to enabling smooth integration with partners and diverse applications. Jim Rapoza

Desktop


& Handheld Hardware">

 

Infrastructure: Desktop & Handheld Hardware
Winner Tandberg ASA Tandberg 1000
Finalists Handspring Inc. Treo 180
NEC Computers Inc. MobilePro P300

Tandberg 1000.

The Desktop & Handheld Hardware category comprised a diverse constellation of products that demonstrate the increasing role of mobile and appliance-based platforms in enterprise computing.

The judges considered a number of handheld devices but selected NECs MobilePro P300 as a finalist for the flexibility of its Secure Digital and Compact Flash expansion slots, as well as the virtual private network and Terminal Services facilities that the Pocket PC 2002-based unit boasts.

Handsprings Palm OS-based Treo 180 also claimed a finalist spot. We were impressed with what Handspring has done in merging a wireless handset with a personal digital assistant without introducing undue sacrifice on either side.

Slightly edging out the Treo to win the category was the Tandberg 1000 videoconferencing appliance, which, as one of our judges remarked, does for videoconferencing what Sony Corp.s Playstation 2 did for gaming. The Tandberg 1000 lowers the barrier to convening videoconferences, does it with style and brings its own monitor along to boot. Jason Brooks

E


-Business Foundations">

 

Infrastructure: E-Business Foundations
Winner IBM WebSphere Application Server 4.0
Finalists BroadVision Inc. BroadVision Retail Commerce 6.0
Percussion Software Inc. Rhythmyx Content Manager 4.0

The eXcellence Awards e-Business Foundations category was home to the products and services that are the basic building blocks of e-commerce systems: data management systems, data integration servers, application servers and online storefront systems.

We were impressed with the selection of tools that IT staff have available to them to help manage data, both in structured and unstructured form. New in this years program was a strong showing by several native XML database systems, although none were yet mature enough, in the view of our judges, to become finalists.

Judges compared several content management systems—one of which, Percussion Softwares Rhythmyx Content Manager 4.0—was selected as a finalist for its strong separation of content from format and content aging and workflow features.

Web storefront BroadVisions BroadVision Retail Commerce 6.0 was also chosen as a finalist for its breadth of features designed for very large sites, particularly its sales data analysis tools, call center integration and customer self-service features. However, Retail Commerces high purchase price and operational costs were a concern.

The winner in the e-Business Foundations category was IBMs WebSphere Application Server 4.0, which provides a rock-solid foundation for Web, mobile and voice-based applications.

The judges in this category liked WebSpheres reasonable price, flexibility, strong selection of e-commerce and integration extensions, and its standout management tools. The cost of its legacy data connectors and less-than-cutting-edge standards support were negatives. Timothy Dyck

E


nterprise Collaboration & Messaging">

 

Infrastructure: Enterprise Collaboration & Messaging
Winner FaceTime Comm. Inc. FaceTime IM Auditor 1.2
Finalists Cardiff Software Inc. LiquidOffice eForm Management System 2.0
iConverse Inc. iConverse Adaptix 1.0

The Enterprise Collaboration & Messaging category featured an extremely wide range of products, covering everything from enterprise-class e-mail servers to online meeting places.

The technology within the winner in this category—FaceTime IM Auditor 1.2—doesnt feature anything particularly exotic or overly impressive, but the product provides management for the seemingly unmanageable space of instant messaging. In the end, its the application of technology that matters most, and IM Auditor 1.2 is a well-positioned management utility that will allow IT managers to track and audit the usage of IM within their organization.

One of the two finalists in the category—Cardiff Softwares LiquidOffice eForm Management System 2.0—is an extremely solid product and should help many companies manage workflow and digital documents.

The other finalist—iConverses Adaptix 1.0—is a tool that allows IT managers to develop mobile applications with intelligent content caching capabilities. Henry Baltazar

IT Quality Assurance Tools


 

Infrastructure: IT Quality Assurance Tools
Winner Hewlett-Packard Co. OpenView Service Desk 4.0
Finalists Rational Software Corp. Rational Suite TestStudio
WildPackets Inc. EtherPeek NX

Quality assurance tools reveal network, system or application performance characteristics so that corrections can be made and normal operations continued with as little disturbance as possible.

Entrants in this category ranged from traffic load generators to transaction monitors and voice-over-IP assessment tools. Judges were faced with the tough choice of determining not only the best products among a wide variety but also of deciding which types of products best serve IT in the current tough economic environment.

The finalists address different aspects of the quality assurance problem, and each exemplifies what IT managers should look for in tools that offer a return on investment in an area in which value is measured in the nebulous world of "what would happen if ... ."

WildPackets EtherPeek NX is a front-line service tool that uses packet analysis and expert knowledge to pinpoint problems and offer possible solutions while also offering a view of the patterns of network usage.

Rational Suite TestStudio from Rational Software enables a more collaborative approach to Web application testing by putting all the information needed to reproduce a problem and the problem itself in a workflow among research and development, quality assurance, and documentation. This improves the accuracy and speed with which development problems are discovered and resolved.

Both of these products were edged out of first place by HPs OpenView Service Desk, which puts the enterprise IT department in the drivers seat of problem resolution, service-level management and reporting, along with the ability to run on a multitude of operating system platforms. The judges were impressed with the straightforward usefulness of the product along with its attention to detail. Cameron Sturdevant

Personal Productivity


 

Infrastructure: Personal Productivity
Winner GoAmerica Comm. Corp. Mobile Office
Finalists Microsoft Corp. Windows XP
vVault Inc. vVault Direct Desktop Access 3.0

The Personal Productivity categorys most promising products were those that strengthened the business case for handheld computers and WAP phones. These products and services set about providing increasingly mobile workers in the enterprise with wider access to the data and resources they enjoy at their office—or cubicle—desktops.

The judges for this category selected GoAmericas Mobile Office—a wireless middleware product that makes resources on the corporate network available to mobile device users—as the overall winner of the Personal Productivity category. Mobile Office enables users to access e-mail and documents on a variety of mobile and wireless devices, such as those powered by the Palm OS and Windows CE handheld operating systems, as well as Research in Motion Ltd. BlackBerry units. The GoAmerica offering can also convert many commonly used files, such as Word and Excel documents—received as attachments or otherwise—into a format usable on devices that cannot handle them in their native form.

Barely edged out of first place by Mobile Office was vVault Inc.s vVault Direct Desktop Access 3.0, which provides similar functionality but requires that client software remain running on the users desktop. This can be a problem if a users primary computer, as in the case of a laptop, cant be left running all the time.

The other finalist in this category, Microsofts Windows XP Professional, won points with the judges for patching the software incompatibility gaps that sometimes marred Windows 2000. Also notable is that Windows XP is built with Terminal Services for enabling remote desktop access via another Windows XP desktop or one of many Terminal Services clients. This is a feature that can boost productivity but that rightly aroused security concerns among the judges. Jason Brooks

Server Hardware


 

Infrastructure: Server Hardware
Winner IBM eServer p690
Finalists Fujitsu Tech. Solutions Inc. PrimePower 2000
Sun Microsystems Inc. Sun Fire 15K

IBMs eServer p690.

A fairly wide range of products comprised the Server Hardware category, from high-end Unix server systems and ultradense server blade systems to slim, rack-mount, two-way Intel Corp.-based servers, server appliances and software products.

After scrutinizing all the entries, the judges in this category named three high-end Unix servers as top picks.

Highly scalable with powerful symmetric multiprocessing processors, multiple operating system partitions, large memory pools, high-bandwidth I/O buses and mainframe-class reliability features, these high-end servers are the powerhouses in enterprise infrastructures, running top-level mission-critical applications.

Making it to the finalist round was the Fujitsu PrimePower 2000 server, which supports as many as 128 Fujitsu SPARC64-GP processors, the highest number of any server in this categorys lineup. However, the PrimePower 2000 lacked flexibility in operating system choice compared with IBMs p690—running only Solaris—even though it can support multiple operating system partitions.

Suns Sun Fire 15K secured the other finalist position. eXcellence Awards judges were impressed with its Sun Fireplane interconnect architecture, which offers blazing speed. The Sun Fire 15K also supports the most memory—576GB—but, like the PrimePower 2000 it runs only on Solaris and falls on the expensive side.

The judges picked IBMs eServer p690 as the winner in this category because of its reasonable price for the performance it offers (the server provides comparable performance using fewer processors); its flexibility in terms of partitioning (down to a single processor) and breadth of operating system choices (including AIX and Linux); its intelligent caching technology; and its relatively low power consumption. Francis Chu

E


nterprise Storage">

 

Infrastructure: Enterprise Storage
Winner Hewlett-Packard Co. OpenView Storage Allocater 2.0
Finalists EMC Corp. WideSky 1.0
IBM TotalStorage IP Storage 200i

Our judges tapped HPs OpenView Storage Allocater 2.0 as the overall winner of the 36 entries in the Enterprise Storage category, but it was no easy decision. The Storage Allocater barely edged out EMCs WideSky for the top position.

WideSky was probably the most significant technology entered in the category because it allows IT managers to run EMCs storage management software on non-EMC hardware. If EMC can gain market share and continue to work with hardware storage vendors to ensure interoperability with EMCs software, the company will be in a good position to challenge Veritas Corp. and BMC Software Inc. for control of the storage management software space. However, these are major ifs that only time in the marketplace can determine. This lack of maturity prevented us from choosing WideSky as the category winner.

Storage Allocater is an out-of-band storage virtualization tool that should allow IT managers to carve up their storage resources and present them to servers more efficiently. The judges liked the fact that it can interoperate with many vendor platforms and that it didnt require a full investment in HPs storage management suite to reap benefits.

The other finalist, IBMs iSCSI-based TotalStorage IP Storage 200i RAID storage system, has the potential to become extremely popular in the low- to midrange storage market: The soon-to-be-released iSCSI standard will allow servers and workstations to hook into it without costly Fibre Channel host bus adapters. Henry Baltazar

Networking


& Management Tools">

 

Networking: Networking & Management Tools
Winner Dirig Software Inc. Fenway 1.1
Finalists IBM ImageUltra
NetIQ Corp. Administration Suite 1.0

Infrastructure and end-user management tools go a long way toward enabling a relatively small number of IT staffers to service large numbers of users and far-flung networked devices. Because of the wide variety of equipment and applications used in networks, this category included more entries than almost any other.

The two finalists that didnt make it into the winners circle are excellent products but tilt toward a stovepipe approach to IT management in a terrain that remains spectacularly heterogeneous.

IBMs ImageUltra takes a unique approach to initial desktop distribution: Load everything supported by the corporate standard—from the operating system to applications—onto a laptop or desktop. Then ship it out to the end user, who makes a few simple choices and gets a functioning computer. The catch is that it is currently available only on IBM equipment.

NetIQs Administration Suite 1.0 is a powerful management tool for distributing management tasks associated with Active Directory, Exchange and Windows NT resources to staff outside IT. In the final analysis, the product slipped from first place because it supports only Microsoft Corp. products.

The winner in this category, Dirig Softwares Fenway 1.1, is a sterling example of a product designed for the reality of corporate IT. Fenway monitors a variety of Unix, Windows NT/2000 and Linux Web servers and provides notifications and root-cause analysis of transaction failures. This information, along with Fenways flexibility, made it a clear choice. Cameron Sturdevant

Networking


Infrastructure">

 

Networking: Networking Infrastructure
Winner Top Layer Networks Inc. IDS Balancer
Finalists Alcatel OmniPCX 4400
Cisco Systems Inc. Cisco Emergency Responder

In this category, the judges recognized network infrastructure products that filled gaps or extended services that improve business performance.

Two of our finalists work in the area of IP telephony: Alcatels OmniPCX 4400 is an enterprise-class telephony product that can integrate with existing phone systems and provides superior branch-office survivability over competitive products. Ciscos Emergency Responder is among the first products to address one of the biggest stumbling blocks of wide-scale IP telephone deployment: effective handling of 911 calls. The judges recognized Emergency Responder as a good first step in systematizing handset location data so it can be used reliably by emergency services.

The winner in this category, Top Layer Networks IDS Balancer, demonstrated product excellence and thoughtful application of technology to the burgeoning problem of attacks aimed at the network.

By distributing the suspected packet streams among a group of IDS (intrusion detection system) sensors, IDS Balancer enables organizations to more effectively prevent attacks while also maximizing the utilization of security equipment. Cameron Sturdevant

Authentication


& User Management">

 

Security: Authentication & User Management
Winner Waveset Technologies Inc. Waveset Lighthouse 1.6r
Finalists BioNetrix Systems Corp. BioNetrix Authentication Suite 4.1
RSA Security Inc. RSA ClearTrust 4.6.1

Entries in this category provide IT staff with the tools necessary to create, group and manage large numbers of digital identities.

Among the field of entries in this category, we found many options for moving away from passwords as an authentication system. Were still some years away from seeing the user-name-plus-password combination lose its No. 1 spot as an authentication system, but change is coming. The average human user simply cant deal well with passwords complex enough to be secure choices.

We think organizations will eventually be required either by necessity or by regulation to stop using passwords and switch to smart cards, token cards or biometric systems, in combination with public-key infrastructures.

We chose finalist BioNetrix Authentication Suite for the many authentication systems it allows and its broad reach: Novell Inc. and Microsoft Corp. networks, plus Web applications and several enterprise resource planning systems.

RSA ClearTrust is for only Web-based applications, but it offers a complete set of features in this space, including strong delegation and intrusion detection features.

The overall winner is Waveset Lighthouse 1.6, which stood above the rest for its ability to manage multiple operating system and application user directories through a single interface, its user self-service features such as password resets, and its ability to enable single sign-on across Web and non-Web applications. Timothy Dyck

E


nterprise Resource Protection">

 

Security: Enterprise Resource Protection
Winner Sanctum Inc. AppScan 2.5
Finalists InfoExpress Inc. CyberGatekeeper Suite 1.0
NFR Security Inc. NFR Network Intrusion Detection-200 1.1

Few issues are as important or as fraught with uncertainty as security, especially when it comes to securing the vital back-end resources that are at the core of a companys enterprise systems.

Among the many products evaluated by the judges were applications for detecting security problems, for managing security resources and for preventing security problems before they happen.

Finalist CyberGatekeeper Suite, from InfoExpress, uses a client/server model to make sure that systems accessing a corporate network meet all the security policies on that network, such as requiring specific anti-virus or personal firewalls.

The other finalist—NFR Securitys NID-200—is a powerful network appliance that provides comprehensive intrusion detection for large and fast corporate networks.

Our category winner, Sanctums AppScan, was the judges choice for its unique approach in scanning Web applications for possible security problems. By providing a tool to help Web application developers find holes in their code before it goes live, AppScan goes a long way toward stopping one of the main causes of security problems before they happen. Jim Rapoza

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