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The best virtualization products of 2008 has announced the winners of its 2008 Products of the Year awards, recognizing innovative and valuable virtualization offerings in five categories.

If you attended this year's VMworld conference in Las Vegas, you know that 2008 was a breakout year for virtualization. On the show floor, thousands of attendees visited the booths of vendors both large and small, peddling innovative virtualization products and countless tools to enhance and manage them.

For more on the best virtualization products:
Best of VMworld 2008 awards announced

In an effort to help IT managers make sense of this thriving ecosystem, has announced the winners of its second annual Products of the Year awards, recognizing the best virtualization products in five categories: platforms, data protection, systems and performance management, lab management and workflow automation, and desktop virtualization.

Winners were selected from a pool of products announced and shipped between Nov. 1, 2007, and Nov. 1, 2008, and were submitted by the vendors themselves or nominated by a group of editors and independent judges. Awards were granted based on product innovation, value, performance, reliability and ease of use.

Virtualization Platforms category
Awards for the Virtualization Platforms category went to the products that judges deemed most worthy of playing a foundational role in enterprise data centers. Taking the Gold was VMware ESXi 3.5, which judges praised for its numerous features, best-in-class reliability, innovative architecture and footprint.

The Silver went to Microsoft's long-awaited Hyper-V 1.0, whose performance and value impressed judges, even in its initial release. Finally, judges awarded the Bronze to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2, whose all-in-one operating system and virtualization platform bundle judges deemed worthy of serious consideration.

Data Protection category
Protecting sensitive data and systems is a chronic pain point for IT, and virtual environments are not exempt. Judges gave this year's Gold award in the Data Protection category to PHD Technologies' esXpress, v3.1, for its recognition that not all virtual machines are created equal, and consequent support for multiple different backup mechanisms. Symantec Veritas NetBackup 6.53 earned the Silver award, in part for its ability to do incremental and file-level backup in a single pass. Finally, judges gave the Bronze to Marathon Technologies' everRun VM, whose fault-tolerance software for Citrix XenServer (and eventually Hyper-V) brings mission-critical levels of availability to virtualized environments -- at low cost and with little overhead.

Systems and Performance Management category
Virtualization is a critical element in the stack, but it is only part of the story. To that effect, judges bestowed the Gold award in the Systems and Performance Management category to Akorri BalancePoint 2.3, citing its ability to monitor and report not only on virtual resources, but also on physical servers, networks and storage. FastScale Technology's Composer Suite 2.5 with Virtual Manager received the Silver award for the way it can simplify provisioning and slash resource utilization in large, sprawl-prone virtual environments. And a Bronze award went to Embotics' V-Commander 2.0, lifecycle management software that judges said would help IT managers regain control of dynamic, sometimes lawless virtual infrastructure.

Lab Management and Workflow Automation category
Of all the products nominated in the Virtual Lab Management category, on the market judges admired the breadth of hypervisor support offered by VMLogix LabManager 3.6, and gave it the Gold award. VMware vCenter Lab Manager 3.0 took home the Silver award, thanks to sophisticated management features that help quality assurance engineers rapidly build out test environments while conserving resources. Finally, for the Bronze, judges nominated Skytap's Virtual Lab, a cloud-based offering whose self-service and utility pricing model can help software developers avoid unnecessary up-front capital costs.

Desktop Virtualization category
With at least 10 times as many corporate desktops as there are servers in the world, virtualization has an enormous role to play in improving end users' desktop experience.
The vast virtualization ecosystem needs a guide to help IT managers make their purchasing decisions.

RingCube Technologies' vDesk 1.1, for example, the Gold winner in the Desktop Virtualization category, enables users to access virtual desktops on- and offline, without being tied to an office PC. Meanwhile, Silver winner MokaFive's virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Player technology allow users to run multiple desktops simultaneously, while simplifying desktop management for IT administrators. Finally, judges rewarded Citrix Systems with the Bronze award for XenDesktop, which takes the VDI model, and improves on it by providing terrific flexibility of virtualization platforms and endpoints.'s editors and judges hope our roundup of the best virtualization products of 2008 will help IT professionals make informed and useful virtualization buying decisions.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director.And check out our Server Virtualization blog.

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