There are a number of different ways to do awards, each with strengths and weaknesses. Some publications have their editors choose the "best" products. I suppose I can't speak for my colleagues on other publications, but I would be hard-pressed to zone a SAN, mask a LUN, or partition a tape library myself. In short, I don't think editors are qualified to determine awards.
Some other publications depend on in-house or contracted lab reviewers to determine "best-of" products. That's a laudable approach, but lab testing depends on the quality and appropriateness of the lab's benchmarks (which are always debatable) as well as a certain level of subjectivity on the reviewer's part. In addition, lab reviewers typically "use" a product only for a matter of days or weeks, not on an ongoing basis.
We think the best way to determine product awards is to have end users do the final voting. After all, users are the only ones that actually use the products on an ongoing basis and are the only ones that can determine the appropriate criteria for assessing the value of a product.
And that's the approach we took with the Most Valuable Products awards, which InfoStor recently co-sponsored with the Association of Storage Networking Professionals (ASNP). The awards were presented at the recent Storage World Conference (June 28 to July 1 in Long Beach, CA).
Of course, our request for product submissions resulted in hundreds of entries from the vendor community. To winnow the field down to a manageable number of finalists, we relied on a small number of ASNP members with assistance from some industry analysts.
We then sent the ballot out to InfoStor's end-user readers and ASNP's 1,600 members (all of whom are end users). Coverage of the finalists and winners starts on p. 34.
Many thanks to all the users that participated in the voting, and congratulations to all of the vendors that made it into the finalist and winner categories.
I recently attended a conference on enterprise content management (ECM), primarily to see how much of a connection there is between storage and ECM in the IT space. My conclusion, based on chats with end-user attendees at the conference: Not much. At least not yet.
But as noted in Phil Goodwin's feature article in this issue (see "ILM and ECM: The confluence of technology, business," p. 26), information life-cycle management will be the catalyst to bring storage and ECM together.
"ECM and storage management come together in the nascent yet compelling vision of information life-cycle management," Goodwin writes.
Of course, we probably wouldn't be thinking about this confluence if not for EMC's acquisition of Documentum, which was justified largely on the grounds of ILM. But it's another great example of an opportunity for storage professionals to branch out into other areas of IT to provide integrated solutions.