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Network Innovation Awards granted for emerging network technologies's Network Innovation Award goes to a variety of companies that have made advances in a range of networking technologies.

The enterprise network is undergoing its biggest transition in decades. Network engineers now have to provide the infrastructure for growing virtualization and cloud environments, the mobile workforce, and new applications that once were the fodder of sci-fi flicks. The good news is that vendors are responding with exciting technologies.

SearchNetworking Innovation Awards

So, last year, created its Network Innovation Award program to recognize companies that are making significant advances and network innovations in such areas as network management, data center network fabric, programmable networking, remote network management and software defined networking (SDN).

Read about the winning vendors and their network innovations.

Network Innovation Award: Cisco Prime for service-centric management has recognized Cisco Prime for service-centric network management. This management system, which was launched in the spring of 2011, works across the LAN, WAN and data center network, and addresses devices, applications, transactions and network streams.

Cisco Prime combines Cisco Systems Inc.'s LAN Management Solutions, Network Control System, Collaboration Manager, Network Analysis Module and Network Based Application Recognition. By doing so, Cisco Prime offers wired and wireless network management; real-time, service-centric monitoring and management of voice and video and network optimization; and service assurance. Cisco Prime also pulls information from across endpoints and network layers, making them more accessible to administrators checking endpoint health when they're troubleshooting.

The future of Cisco Prime involves incorporating automated provisioning information and network orchestration, ensuring virtual desktop performance by using LineSider technology.

Read more about Cisco Prime.

Network Innovation Award: Juniper QFabric advances network fabric

Juniper Networks Inc.'s QFabric architecture has won's innovation award for its ability to extend basic switch architecture to an entire fabric of data center network switches. With QFabric, there is a direct connection between every port and node on the network, and every node can be managed as one giant switch.

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The QFabric architecture addresses traditional data center network challenges, including the onslaught of the ever-growing amount of data being processed, network convergence and the evolution of data center architecture.

QFabric comprises various components, such as QFabric Interconnect, which focuses on switching, and QFabric Director, which externalizes the entire control plane. Despite being a complex technology on its own, QFabric can be integrated into an existing data center network.

Read more about Juniper Networks' QFabric.

Network Innovation Award: Arista open source network operating system

Arista Networks Inc. landed's innovation award for its open-API network operating system. Arista's Linux-based Extensible Operating System (EOS) runs across all its products, is open for programming and allows for engineers to separate the control plane from the physical network. By programming the network to automatically respond to moving virtual machines and provisioning network resources for cloud environments, EOS makes for a network that is sensitive to engineers' needs.

Arista's EOS also lets network teams gain visibility into the network and solve problems faster. It allows users to customize the network infrastructure with automatic alerts in case of security of function issues.

Read more about Arista's open source network operating system.

Network Innovation Award: Enterasys remote network management has recognized Enterasys Networks Inc. for its remote network management strategy. The company's isaac project lets users remotely manage and control their enterprise network infrastructure, receive network health alerts and send commands to network components through such social media as Twitter, Facebook and Inc.'s Chatter that are mapped to a simple language of choice.

As part of its Network Management Suite, isaac works across a multivendor network and is integrated with Enterasys' bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, management tool, Mobile IAM. This gives network engineers visibility into every mobile device connected to the network and the ability to manage them by a chat or tweet.

While isaac is a fairly new technology, its originality and potential to transform the way network engineers manage their infrastructure make it stand out among other network management technologies.

Read more about Enterasys' remote network management strategy.

Network Innovation Award: NEC ProgrammableFlow; OpenFlow networking

NEC Corporation of America was recognized by for its innovations in SDN through its product, ProgrammableFlow. With this technology, network engineers can build flat networks that can be centrally managed and viewed using a controller and management console. In this way, engineers can separate the data plane of the network and manage in detail down to certain data paths, as well as build networks that have multiple distinct tenants with set policies and management rules.

NEC next plans to integrate the ProgrammableFlow fabric with such cloud computing platforms as OpenStack. With this integration, engineers can provision virtual compute, storage and networks solutions on demand and one after the other. While working towards that goal, NEC's SDN technology in the short term will aid customers in migrating to a 10 Gigabit Ethernet environment in a more manageable way, allowing for more control and better utilization of traffic capacity.

Read more about NEC's ProgrammableFlow technology.

Network Innovation Award: VMware vSphere Networking awarded VMware its Network Innovation Award for adding an array of features to its vSphere networking and vCloud networking strategies. In addition to VMware's hypervisor-based networking features, distributed switches and cloud networking, is excited to see what emerges from VMware's $1.2 billion acquisition of Nicira, a network virtualization innovator.

For VMware's huge steps toward automated network virtualization and cloud networking, has recognized VMware with an Innovation Award for its vSphere, vSphere Distributed Switch and vCloud Network and Security.

Read more about VMware's vSphere Networking.

Network Innovation Award: Aruba ClearPass

Aruba Networks’ ClearPass Access Management System has been recognized by for its mobility management innovation. ClearPass manages and secures network access control for any user or device in a wired, wireless or VPN environment. ClearPass also ensures that provisioning and policy are controlled through the central ClearPass Policy Manager system. Additional components of the ClearPass technology make it a NAC solution, a guest networking manager and allow users to self-provision and configure devices.

Read more about Aruba's ClearPass.

Network Innovation Award: Brocade VCS Fabric has recognized Brocade for its Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS) Fabric. This network fabric technology allows engineers to manage and configure multiple switches as one and offers multipathing and automation in the data center LAN. Additionally, Brocade is also planning to use VCS to enhance the fabric edge to fully interact with Spanning Tree while using TRILL in the core. This way, customers can integrate fabric with existing data center architecture. Brocade also plans to implement OpenFlow both within the VCS fabric and other data center platforms in a supplementary manner.

Read more about Brocade's VCS Fabric.

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