Virtualization Pro

Sep 10 2009   2:50PM GMT

Judging the Best of VMworld awards

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

For the last few years at VMworld TechTarget has sponsored the Best of VMworld awards, which showcases the best products in many different categories. Last year was my first time being a judge and I had the privilege once again this year. Judges include TechTarget writers and editors and well known industry people/bloggers such as Scott Lowe, David Davis, Edward Haletky, Rick Vanover and Tom Howarth. It’s not an easy job as you need to carefully evaluate each product that is nominated on several different criteria to determine the winner for each category. This includes doing some prejudging work before the show starts and then visiting vendors at the show to learn more about their products.

This year I was assigned the security category with another judge who unfortunately ended up not being able to go to VMworld. I also helped out Scott and David with prejudging in the hardware category. Security is something I’ve always been very interested in so I was excited to judge this category again. Surprisingly the number of entrees for the security category was down from last year and there were a number of products that I felt should have been in it and were not. However it’s up to the vendors to nominate their products by filling out an application form for each product. The winner in the security category from last year, Reflex Systems, moved to the cloud category this year as they felt their product had evolved to be more then just a security product.

This year after prejudging in the security category there were three products that we focused on as we thought they were the best candidates to win the category. Those three products were Altor Networks VF Virtual Firewall, Catbird’s vCompliance and HyTrust Appliance. I was familiar with Altor Network and Catbird as I had spend some time with them last year but HyTrust was new to me. I had heard of its appliance and knew it had something to do with virtualization security but never had a chance to look at in-depth until VMworld.

Visiting vendors at the show while judging is always time consuming and by the time we got to HyTrust we were short on time as we were late for our group deliberation meeting to discuss the winners for each category. Consequently we only had about 15 minutes to spend talking with Eric Chiu from HyTrust. But those 15 minutes were all it took to discover they had a great, unique product that solved a big problem in virtual environments by providing a single authentication and authorization mechanism for all the many methods that can be used to access host and vCenter Servers. I was surprised by HyTrust’s implementation method as I figured it would rely on a appliance located on each ESX host, but instead HyTrust only uses an appliance on a single host for the whole environment. Overall they had a great product that really stood out and solved a big security problem in virtual environments.

Once we were done interviewing the nominees it was time for the judges to meet as a group for a deliberation meeting to discuss each category and select winners and finalists. The judges for each category go over the products in their category and explain what they thought about each product in the category and which ones they thought were the best. The group gives their input also and a winner and finalists or two are chosen for each category. This process is not always easy and often times it’s a tough call picking the winners. There are sometimes spirited debates on the close ones as to why one should be chosen over the other.

After the winner for all the categories are selected it’s time to choose a single winner from all the category winners for the Best of Show. This is a group decision where all the judges can give their input and vote, by a mostly unanimous vote this year the HyTrust appliance was deemed the winner for Best of Show.

Each year many great products are nominated and it’s always a challenge to select the winners. Despite being challenging and time-consuming it is also rewarding as you get to meet many vendors and find out detailed information on their great products and solutions. You can check out the all the winners this year here and also see live video interviews here.

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