2012 Virtualization Review Reader's Choice Awards & Buyers Guide

Check out the best virtualization-related products as chosen by you! And don't forget to download the PDF version for the complete article and comprehensive buyers guide.

Virtualization Review is proud to present the winners of our 2012 Readers Choice Awards. For each category you'll see the overall winner, preferred product plus a new category, ISV winner, created to highlight some of the smaller vendors who are cranking out really cool and innovative products.

For more, don't forget to download the complete PDF (including the comprehensive 2012 Buyers Guide) here.

2012 Virtualization Award Categories:


Application Virtualization
For the second year in a row, VMware Inc. beats Citrix -- which most of the "experts" believe is stronger than VMware in this category due to its many years of application expertise. Perhaps the more intriguing story is the emergence of Microsoft, which is raising its virtualization profile in the eyes of the IT pros who go down in the trenches with this stuff every day. ISV Winner Spoon sports nifty technology that makes it easy to get started quickly and deploy apps in a wide range of environments.

Winner: VMware ThinApp 4.6.1 from VMware Inc.
Preferred Products: Citrix XenApp 6 from Citrix Systems Inc., Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 SP1 from Microsoft Corp.
ISV Winner: Spoon Server from Spoon


Business Continuity
Business continuity has been around for a long time as a mission-critical concept, and it has only become more important as IT operations have become extended beyond conventional boundaries. This is just one more essential piece in the VMware puzzle. Veeam Software has won critical acclaim for its expertise in this area, and Acronis offers backup and recovery from a single console, which is a competitive requirement. AppAssure offers backup and recovery with fast local recovery and total bare metal restores from remote replication sites.

Winner: VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 4.0 from VMware Inc.
Preferred Products: Veeam Backup & Replication 5 from Veeam Software , Acronis Backup & Recovery 11 Virtual Edition from Acronis Inc.
ISV Winner: AppAssure Backup and Disaster Recovery 4.6 from AppAssure Software Inc.


Cloud Computing
VMware vCenter Operations is critical to the company's cloud quest because it's an automated operations management solution that provides integrated performance, capacity and configuration management for highly virtualized and cloud infrastructures. Windows Azure, the Microsoft Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, has made a name for itself with its cloud-based application development capabilities. Despite the cloud prominence of VMware, EC2, the first high-profile Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering, has been synonymous with cloud computing since its 2006 beta. Not to be outdone, Eucalyptus claims to be the world's most widely deployed software platform for private IaaS clouds.

Winner: VMware vCenter Operations Standard 1.0 from VMware Inc.
Preferred Products: Windows Azure from Microsoft, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) from Amazon Web Services Inc.
ISV Winner: Eucalyptus IaaS from Eucalyptus Systems Inc.


Desktop Virtualization/Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Citrix must be wondering what it takes to overhaul VMware in this category, where it again falls short of VMware despite the plaudits it receives from the pundits. Maybe its enhanced version of VDI-in-a-box, which was acquired along with Kaviza, will push it over the top next year. In the meantime, Oracle is slowly becoming a player, and Nutanix is impressing users with its SAN-free approach to enhanced virtualization performance.

Winner: VMware View 4.6 from VMware Inc.
Preferred Products: Citrix XenDesktop 5 from Citrix Systems Inc., Oracle VM VirtualBox from Oracle Corp.
ISV Winner: Nutanix Complete Cluster from Nutanix Inc.


Mobile Virtualization
VMware is staking its claim in this potentially huge market, where it has introduced several new clients. Citrix Receiver enables users to access apps and Windows desktops at their offices, homes or on the road. Using the new 2X MobileDeviceManager, admins can secure and manage their corporate mobile device networks by supporting authentication with SSL connections from Android and other mobile and smart devices. Red Bend Software is a player to watch. Its VLX 4.1 mobile virtualization software comprises a hypervisor that de-couples hardware management and application environments, enabling separation of design and functionality in smartphones.

Winner: VMware View Clients for iPad and Android from VMware Inc.
Preferred Products: Citrix Receiver from Citrix Systems Inc., 2X Mobile Device Manager 1 from 2X Software Ltd.
ISV Winner: VLX 4.1 from Red Bend Software

Network Virtualization
Cisco is all over virtualization in its own backyard, and with a growing number of like-minded business partners, so this victory comes as no surprise. Ditto Citrix Systems Inc.'s Preferred Product Award for the venerable NetScaler. F5 Networks can celebrate its award along with its announcement that it surpassed the $1 billion mark in FY 2011 sales. Filling out a stellar field, Riverbed is a proven company with a solid reputation.

Winner: Cisco Nexus 1000V 4.2 from Cisco Systems
Preferred Products: Citrix NetScaler SDX from Citrix Systems, Big-IP Local Traffic Manager Virtual Edition 11 – F5 Networks Inc.
ISV Winner: Steelhead Appliance from Riverbed


Server Virtualization
Life, death, taxes and VMware finishing first in the Reader's Choice Awards Server Virtualization category are all virtual certainties, as it were. While nobody builds a better virtualization environment than vSphere 5, Microsoft is still gaining a lot of traction with Hyper-V, which is making significant inroads based on its relative affordability and its future prospects with Windows 8. Oracle is another platform player making its presence felt in this core category, while underdog Red Hat continues to raise its performance bar while expanding its cloud ecosystem.

Winner: VMware vSphere 5 from VMware
Preferred Products: Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V R2 SP1 from Microsoft, Oracle VM 3.0 from Oracle
ISV Winner: Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers 2.2 from Red Hat Inc.


Storage Virtualization
Say what you will about the costs and complexity of EMC storage products, the company's VNX and VNXe Series Unified Storage systems for both small to midsize businesses and enterprises don't seem like they're all that hard to digest by Virtualization Review readers. Once again, NetApp finished in a not-unfamiliar position -- just a hair behind the market leader. Based on the strength of its storage hypervisor approach, DataCore finished a respectable third, while Tintri has been opening a lot of eyes with its focus on network storage within virtualized datacenters.

Winner: EMC VNX Series or VNXe Series from EMC Corp.
Preferred Products: NetApp V6200 Series / V3200 Series from NetApp, SANsymphony-V 8.1 from DataCore Software
ISV Winner: Tintri VMstore T445 from Tintri Inc.


Thin/Zero Client Computing
Wyse Technology is a company that just keeps on innovating when it comes to thin and zero client computing, which is why it's such a sought-after business partner at companies such as Cisco and Citrix. The Citrix connection is especially significant because it brings the Citrix high-definition HDX technology to a wide variety of applications, devices and networks. Here's another category where Oracle Corp. has a growing presence. For its part, Pano Logic Inc. is an up-and-comer that touts its zero client devices that contain no processor, OS, storage or moving parts.

Winner: Wyse Z-90 from Wyse Technology Inc.
Preferred Products: Wyse Xenith Pro from Wyse Technology Inc., Oracle Sun Ray 3 Series Clients from Oracle Corp.
ISV Winner: Pano System 4.5 from Pano Logic Inc.

Virtual PC
The VMware desktop virtualization product fully supports Windows 7 and Windows XP Mode VMs, along with 3-D graphics. The Wyse PocketCloud app enables users to securely access any physical or virtualized infrastructure anytime, anywhere from their iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch or Android devices.

Winner: VMware Workstation 7.0 from VMware Inc.
Preferred Product: Wyse PocketCloud from Wyse Technology


Virtualization Automation
In the new, virtualized world of IT, there's no time for human error and intervention. That's why Microsoft acquired IT process automation software maker Opalis in December 2009. Now System Center Opalis has become a major cog in Redmond's management suite. Despite its travails, Novell also saw the value of automation, as did Tripwire. Reflex Systems is gaining recognition by integrating various IT tools into a single configuration.

Winner: Opalis 6.3 from Microsoft
Preferred Products: Novell PlateSpin Migrate by NetIQ 9.1 from NetIQ Corp., Tripwire VIA from Tripwire Inc.
ISV Winner: Reflex vProfile 2.16 from Reflex Systems Inc.


Virtualization Management & Optimization
VMware Inc. knows that in order for it to triumph in the cloud, the company must offer impeccable management capabilities, and all the hard work it has invested in this area is paying off with vCenter, which provides users with the confidence that comes from knowing their virtualization and cloud environments are largely bulletproof. But Microsoft is coming on strong by aggressively enhancing System Center. Veeam Software continues to be a strong competitor in this area, and SolarWinds is developing a solid reputation for its network management expertise.

Winner: VMware vCenter Suite 4.0 from VMware Inc.
Preferred Products: System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 SP1 from Microsoft Corp., Veeam ONE v5 from Veeam Software
ISV Winner: SolarWinds Virtualization Manager 4 from SolarWinds


Virtualization Security
There's no way that VMware wouldn't have a significant number of its highly talented engineers working on security, and its runaway victory here underlines that fact. Juniper Networks Inc. is targeting security in the cloud and mobile Internet markets, while veteran Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. offers a broad line of security gateway appliances. Catbird Inc. offers security services for virtual, cloud and physical environments.

Winner: VMware vShield Suite 5 from VMware Inc.
Preferred Product: vGW Virtual Gateway 5 from Juniper Networks Inc., Check Point Security Gateway Virtual Edition (VE) R71 from Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.
ISV Winner: Catbird vSecurity from Catbird Inc


Virtualization Training
TrianSignal has assembled a crew of topflight instructors who have developed vSphere video training tools at a time when such tools are sorely needed by IT pros who are considering or making the jump from vSphere 4 to the sophisticated environs of vSphere 5. Global Knowledge Training, Netcom and Intense School are also established training firms with quality offerings.

Winner: vSphere Video Training from TrainSignal Inc.
Preferred Products: Cloud Computing Training from Global Knowledge Training LLC, Microsoft SharePoint Certification from NetCom Learning
ISV Winner: Boot Camp Training – Intense School and InfoSec Institute


Methodology Note: This year's Virtualization Review Reader's Choice Awards survey ballot was sent out to approximately 20,000 of our readers on Sept. 15 and they had two weeks to vote. Job titles for that group ran the gamut from C-level executives to help desk technicians. Vendors were not allowed to vote for themselves, nor to solicit votes. We carefully examined the voting results, and nullified illegal votes that were cast in an effort to stuff the ballot box. For questions regarding this survey, contact Bruce Hoard, editor in chief, at [email protected].

About the Author

Bruce Hoard is the new editor of Virtualization Review. Prior to taking this post, he was founding editor of Network World and spent 20 years as a freelance writer and editor in the IT industry.


Subscribe on YouTube