ekostsov - Fotolia

NIA awards: A look back at innovative technology products

As 2015 draws to a close, we look at the innovative technology products that garnered a SearchNetworking Network Innovation Award.

SearchNetworking's Network Innovation Award (NIA) has been presented to scores of companies since the accolade was first created in 2011. During that time, vendors have been recognized for their efforts in developing a wide range of innovative technology products -- from controllers and wireless analytics to cloud-based network monitoring platforms and network fabrics. This year was no different; in 2015, SearchNetworking recognized seven companies for their ground-breaking technologies. Here's a recap:


Dell captured a Network Innovation Award for its collaboration with Cumulus Networks to place Cumulus' open source operating systems on a segment of its enterprise-class switches. Dell was the first major vendor to open up its hardware to a third-party OS vendor, as it sought to capitalize on the increasingly accelerating trend toward software-defined networking (SDN) rather than proprietary, in-switch functionality.

To Dell, making a move like this made perfect sense, according to Tom Burns, vice president and general manager of the company's networking and enterprise infrastructure group. Burns compared it to the introduction of x86-based servers in the 1980s, which tilted the industry away from the proprietary and expensive mainframe computers that dominated IT.

Read more about Dell's decision to open up its hardware.  

Aruba Mobile Engagement

Aruba Networks launched its Aruba Mobile Engagement (AME) platform in November 2014 to provide retailers, public spaces and stadiums with a way to communicate with users' mobile devices via a combination of Wi-Fi, beacons and indoor positioning technology.

Aruba, now owned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, engineered AME so it enables indoor navigation features and high-quality connectivity in crowded stadiums. That's important, because if users can't use their mobile devices because the Wi-Fi system is overloaded, it doesn't matter what kind of additional services the venue or facility might offer.

Read more about Aruba Mobile Engagement.

Gigamon network traffic visibility platform

Gigamon received the NIA for its GigaVue HC2 modular fabric node for network traffic visibility. The node was designed with throughput of 1 Tbps, with nonblocking port speeds that range between 1 Gbps and 40 Gbps. The GigaVue HC2 was designed to work with increasingly complicated networks, rich in encryption and often incorporating virtual extensible LANs (VXLANs).

GigaVue focused on what it terms "adaptive packet filtering and content-based inspection" to further boost efficiency. The company also bundled the node with a NetFlow generation engine to help manage multicomponent traffic. Secure Sockets Layer decryption and load balancing for multiple security appliances, meantime, give customers the option to use the mode as part of an overall network security protection strategy.

Read more about Gigamon GigaVue for network traffic visibility.

Talko app

Talko Inc.'s Talko app is designed as a team collaboration tool, combining search features with voice, text and image capacity for highly mobile IT and networking teams who are often away from their desks.

To ensure steady voice service without dropped calls, Talko designed the app to switch rapidly between cell signal and Wi-Fi. Even when the app encounters areas of complete non-connectivity, it leaves the user dialed into the call to save time when a connection is re-established. As an additional time-saving feature, Talko saves calls as a durable form just like text, to permit new conferencing participants to catch up with what they might have missed.

Read more about Talko's award for its innovative networking technologies.

Saisei FlowCommand appliance

Saisei received an innovative technology products award for its SDN link optimization technology, FlowCommand. The startup, based in Sunnyvale, California, said its appliance, which relies on open source Linux software and commodity hardware, rewrites the rules governing how traffic flows -- not just network packets -- are processed. The end result, said Jeff Paine, vice president of marketing and business development, is a tool that eliminates packet queuing and can also be used to manage and secure traffic flows.

Read more about Saisei's FlowCommand appliance.

Avaya ONA for SDN and IoT

Avaya won an NIA for its Open Network Adaptor (ONA). Based on SDN principles, the card-sized ONA device downloads and enforces centrally defined security and performance policies, turning an Ethernet-equipped endpoint into an intelligent network node. It then allows network administrators to virtually monitor the endpoint and reset or disable it, if necessary.

ONA offers promise to the Internet of Things (IoT), where thousands of devices will need to be managed. Of particular interest is how it might be used with medical devices that run old OSes -- such as Windows 2000 -- that can't be modified or updated.

Looking ahead, Avaya hopes to port the ONA software to other devices. It also has had discussions with endpoint manufacturers to plot how the code could be embedded within their devices' processors, thus allowing them to communicate with software controllers.

Read more about Avaya's ONA device.

Midokura MidoNet

Wrapping up our innovative technology products showcase for 2015, Midokura became the year's final award winner with its MidoNet Community Edition (MCE) software. MCE, an Open Source version of Midokura's flagship product, has all the overlay, virtualization and Layer 2-4 networking capabilities of MidoNet. It also includes the ability to trace past flows, a handy tool when trying to troubleshoot performance problems in a virtual environment.

Read more about Midokura MidoNet.

Next Steps

White-box switching leads in 2014

Unveiling indoor positioning

Cisco ACI & faster switches dominate 2013

Dig Deeper on Network infrastructure

Unified Communications
Mobile Computing
Data Center