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Impact Awards: Vote for the best software-defined infrastructure

Vote for the best software-defined infrastructure product in the Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards.

The Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards recognize the top products, technologies and services in the essential areas of technology that Modern Infrastructure covers. The award-winning tools will be those helping to run enterprise businesses with efficiency and insight -- whether they're used inside the data center or out.

Judges have whittled down the list of submissions to the finalists below. Voting is open from October 16 through October 31, 2014. Winners will be announced in early January in a special issue of Modern Infrastructure.

Entrants in the Best Software-Defined Infrastructure category are software-only products that provide advanced infrastructure capabilities to commodity data center hardware.

The companies listed to the left are the finalists for the 2014 Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards' Best Software-Defined Infrastructure category.

Anuta Networks NCX 4.0

Anuta says: Enterprises and service providers clearly see the need to accelerate their network services and there are many solutions that help them build the network from scratch. However, they made enormous investment in best-of-breed networking infrastructure from multiple vendors that they can't afford to throw away. And, they can't rely on niche players who accelerate network services for a specific use case or vendor. Anuta NCX is the only solution that delivers network service virtualization for existing multi-vendor physical and virtual infrastructure and orchestrates all the use cases including data center, campus/access, branch/WAN, service provider IP/MPLS Edge, virtual CPE and NFV. Our unique approach encapsulates and abstracts traditional physical networking, emerging virtual networking and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies into a programmable service layer. By encapsulating these disparate networking technologies into a unified service tier, the Anuta NCX platform insulates other business service tiers from the underlying technology implementation, as well as future technology decisions in the network infrastructure. This encapsulation provides freedom to choose best-of-breed and evolving networking technologies, all managed through a single pane of glass.

CohesiveFT VNS3 version 3.5

CohesiveFT says: VNS3 is changing the way businesses use cloud computing. VNS3 is a software-only cloud networking product that lets enterprises extend their networks into public, private and hybrid clouds to provide connectivity, integration and security for their applications. VNS3 acts like a hybrid combination of a router, a switch, a firewall and security devices. VNS3 is different from other networking products because it creates a customer-controlled network on top of underlying cloud networks. No cloud provider or security vendor offers the same level of control and security. This "overlay network" opens up cloud computing for even more possibilities, including ways to connect and secure data centers and businesses not allowed in public cloud networks. CohesiveFT customers can guarantee secure access between their corporate data centers and cloud-based systems. Previously, security and networking software could not guarantee this level of access and accountability for enterprise users.

"VNS3 overlay networks offer something other networking and cloud providers could not: end-to-end data security between cloud deployments and across virtual environments," said Abhimanyu Yadav, Simeio Solutions vice president in the U.K. "The VNS3 overlay network can use secure, encrypted IPsec connections to multiple endpoints, unlike other virtual networking products."

Hewlett-Packard StoreVirtual

According to HP's website: HP StoreVirtual VSA transforms your server's internal or direct-attached storage into a fully featured shared storage array without the cost and complexity associated with dedicated storage. StoreVirtual VSA is a hypervisor- and hardware-agnostic virtual storage appliance optimized for VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM and OpenStack environments. It creates a virtual array within your application server and scales as storage needs evolve. The ability to use a variety of internal storage within your environment greatly increases capacity utilization while the robust scale-out architecture provides the capability to add storage capacity on-the-fly without compromising performance. The VSA's built-in high-availability and disaster recovery features ensure business continuity for the entire virtual environment. A straightforward and simple management console allows the administrator to manage all StoreVirtual products, physical and virtual, regardless of their physical location.

Infinio Accelerator v1.5

Infinio says: Today there is a plethora of new innovation to improve storage performance and better support virtualized data centers. But most require a rip-and-replace approach or the addition of expensive flash hardware. Infinio offers the most cost-effective way to add performance to the storage you already have. It's a completely non-disruptive solution that requires no SSDs, no migration of data, and no changes to storage-related processes. Customers enjoy 10X latency improvement for VDI and enterprise applications. Infinio is different from other server-side caching solutions because of our unique content-based cache architecture. In contrast to other products that use an address-based scheme, Infinio deduplicates cached content across the cluster, unlocking our ability to leverage small amounts of RAM for great advantage. This innovation allows us to realize 5:1 deduplication ratios or better, meaning just 8 GB of RAM per server can create an effective cache that offloads 65% to 85% of read requests from central storage. While some vendors cite claims of "cost per IOP" savings compared to buying new storage, we believe the more meaningful measure is whether virtual desktop users and applications have the performance they need at a financial and operational cost IT can afford.

Maginatics Cloud Storage Platform version 3.0

Maginatics says: Maginatics Cloud Storage Platform (MCSP) is the only solution that fully addresses the critical file storage needs of the modern enterprise, which require the best of all possible worlds: software-only packaging; one or more public, private or hybrid cloud-backed capacity pools of their choosing in which to centrally manage arbitrarily large and rapidly growing data sets; failsafe-secure and bottleneck-free high-performance access to that centrally managed data from anywhere on earth using unmodified, existing applications running on any device; and the NAS features enterprises have come to rely on over the last 30 years, including strong data consistency, failsafe file locking, full compliance with Windows and POSIX semantics, and robust data protection. Only MCSP (together with the customer's choice of cloud storage) enables enterprise IT to deliver: unbounded scalability and agility, failsafe data protection, anywhere/any-device data access, failsafe and end-to-end data security, high-performance file access regardless of user or storage location, and vastly reduced TCO -- all in a 100% software-defined package. Every solution platform in the market besides MCSP fails on some or all of these sine qua non criteria, making MCSP highly deserving of this award.

Maxta Inc. MxSP v2.0

Maxta says: Maxta's innovative software-defined storage, MxSP, continues to deliver on the promise of hyper-convergence by providing greater choice, flexibility and savings while running on standard x86 servers and providing a complete suite of enterprise-class data services. Recently announced MxSP features provide improved VM-centric automation, simplified data protection, greater availability and resiliency with support for VMware Stretch Storage Metro Cluster for continuous availability in case of site, data center or rack failure, along with improved self-healing capabilities to detect and auto-correct inconsistencies in data. Performance enhancements include improved caching algorithms and improved flash utilization to deliver consistent and predictable latency. Performance testing shows that MxSP running on the new Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors increases VM density and storage performance for VMs in virtualized environments. A new MaxDeploy Reference Architecture featuring the Intel Xeon E5 processor and Maxta MxSP software provides significant improvements over previous generations of x86 servers in the number of I/O transactions per second, read and write latency, and the number of virtual machines deployed on a server. By using MaxDeploy with the Intel E5 v3 processors, Intel NVMe based solid-state drives, and Intel Ethernet Controller XL710, enterprises now have the flexibility to scale their environment on-demand without overprovisioning resources.

NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP

NetApp says: NetApp Data ONTAP 8 software delivers a unified storage platform that enables unrestricted, secure data movement across multiple cloud environments and paves the way for software-defined data centers, offering advanced performance, availability and efficiency. Data ONTAP clustering capabilities can keep businesses running nonstop. More organizations use Data ONTAP than any other storage operating system. In a single, feature-rich platform, clustered Data ONTAP lets you scale your infrastructure without increasing IT staff. Clustered Data ONTAP allows storage maintenance without disrupting operations, is proven to reduce storage costs and efficiency, and provides seamless scalability. Software-defined storage (SDS) does for storage what virtualization did for servers -- breaking down the physical barriers that bind data to specific hardware.

With NetApp clustered Data ONTAP Storage virtual machines:

  • IT infrastructure teams become more responsive
  • Application owners become more autonomous
  • Business decision makers become more flexible

NetApp delivers SDS with clustered Data ONTAP software, the industry's most comprehensive application integration, and programmable APIs for seamless workflow automation. SDS capabilities are woven into NetApp products, not added later as a separate management layer.

PernixData FVP 2.0

PernixData says: Virtualization has changed the way data centers operate, but storage hasn't been able to keep up, creating I/O bottlenecks. IT administrators need a way to deliver microsecond response times for all VMs while cost-effectively scaling out storage performance. To date, though, this hasn't been possible, as storage performance has been intrinsically tied to capacity. This all changes with PernixData FVP, which virtualizes server flash and RAM to enable scale-out storage performance independent of capacity. No changes are required to VMs, servers or primary storage, ensuring maximum performance of all virtualized applications in a seamless, scalable and cost-effective manner. Version 2.0 of FVP has raised the bar even higher, creating the only storage acceleration platform that can be deployed on flash or RAM, with any type of storage.

New groundbreaking features include:

  • Virtualize any high-speed server resource
  • Optimize any storage device
  • User-defined replica groups

By decoupling storage performance from capacity, FVP provides maximum storage performance at minimum cost. To make FVP affordable for all environments, FVP 2.0 exists as three editions: Enterprise, Standard and Essentials Plus. PernixData FVP's enterprise class features and unparalleled benefits make it a strategic infrastructure investment that will fundamentally change data center storage design forever.

Silver Peak Unity

Silver Peak says: Silver Peak Unity is a software-defined WAN (SDWAN) fabric that enables enterprises to extend traditional network capabilities into the cloud. Unity enables IT teams to monitor and control connectivity to the cloud while ensuring consistent performance for all enterprise applications, including SaaS. With Unity, IT can effectively monitor services and gain better insight into where performance is impacted by network conditions. With the cloud intelligence technology, users can obtain information about cloud services to Silver Peak software instances, creating an Internet weather map for intelligent routing decisions. Unity deploys Advance WAN Routing technology, which identifies closest egress points to cloud data centers and directs traffic to a cloud service over an optimal path. This also selects the fastest, least-congested path for traffic by monitoring for packet loss, latency and bandwidth in real-time. This SDWAN fabric enables users to control network usage and prioritize business-critical applications with traffic shaping. Data transfers and backups are done over a secure connectivity with accelerated end-to-end encryption across various SaaS and IaaS providers, while optimizing service delivery with data reduction and path conditioning. Unity enables reliable, secure networks with low latency traffic to end users independent of their location with up to 40x performance improvement.

VMware NSX

Modern Infrastructure says: VMware NSX is a virtual networking platform that abstracts network operations from the underlying hardware in much the same way that server virtualization abstracts processing power. NSX reduces the time to deploy complex multi-tiered networks and reduces the need for manual configuration, allowing IT to more rapidly respond to business needs. NSX allows administrators to create, provision and manage logical networks, utilizing the underlying physical network as a simple packet-forwarding backplane. Network and security services are distributed and attached to VMs within a network. As a VM is moved to another host, these services stay attached to the VM and move with it. In addition, as new VMs are added to a network to scale an application, policy can be dynamically applied to the new VMs. The NSX network virtualization platform operates on any hypervisor, any network hardware, and integrates with any cloud management platform.

This was last published in October 2014

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