Editor's note

For 16 years, Storage magazine and SearchStorage have held the annual Products of the Year awards. The competition recognizes the best data storage products the industry has to offer and helps steer readers toward them.

As in the past, the 2017 Products of the Year contest started with an invitation to storage vendors to submit their products for consideration and to storage users to tell us about the products they love. Our competition stands out from similar awards because we only accept products released or significantly upgraded during the previous year. This policy gives new or lesser-known products and startups an opportunity to more fairly compete against bigger, more-established products and brands.

Our judging panel included users, analysts, consultants, and Storage magazine and SearchStorage writers and editors. Judges considered several factors when assessing finalists to determine the best data storage products of 2017. High among the criteria considered is technological innovation, with performance, ease of integration, ease of use and manageability, functionality and value also weighed. After all, a storage product can't just be innovative; it must be practical, as well, to satisfy users.

Enterprise storage products competed in five categories this year: backup and disaster recovery hardware, backup and DR software and services, software-defined storage, storage arrays and storage management tools. Of the more than 100 entries we received, our judges narrowed the field to 47 finalists. Fourteen of those went on to win gold, silver or bronze awards as the best data storage products of the year. Congratulations to all our winners!

Learn more about why each medalist earned a spot on the 2017 Products of the Year podium by clicking on the links in the sections below. We've also included links to information on the 2017 finalists to let you discover more about the competition our winners were up against.

1Backup and disaster recovery software and services

This category covers backup and recovery software; cloud backup and recovery services; and on-premises backup and disaster recovery, snapshotting, replication and archiving products. The winners span a range of platforms, from software-defined to cloud-focused to even some physical support. The group of finalists reflects trends in cloud protection and object storage. Some of the vendors are familiar names from past Products of the Year winners' lists, while others are new to the competition.

2Software-defined storage

Winners in the software-defined storage category all focus on high-performance storage. Gold winner Excelero's NVMesh pools ultra-fast nonvolatile memory express-based storage resources. Silver winner DataCore Software's SANsymphony is noted for its parallel I/O technology. And bronze winner WekaIO's parallel scale-out file software takes advantage of pooled flash storage in application servers. Eligible products run on standard servers with no dependencies on underlying hardware. Entries included offerings that pool and manage storage, object stores, file systems and the software powering hyper-converged infrastructure.

3Storage arrays

Entries in the storage arrays category cover systems with flash, hard disk drives or a hybrid mixture. Products include Fibre Channel and iSCSI SAN, NAS, multiprotocol systems, converged infrastructure, SSDs, HDDs, disk controllers and caching appliances. They have integrated software management and storage features. While flash dominates enterprise storage, two winners exploit the performance and low cost of spinning media. All three winning products use flash, but only one is called "all-flash." Two systems use HDDs to store data, with targeted flash to enhance performance.

4Storage management tools

Companies entering the data storage management tools category range from startups to established storage giants. Despite the variety of sizes, there are common themes among the entrants, including the use of artificial intelligence and cloud connections. In addition, support for multi-platform, multi-cloud and multiple storage tiers is common. This category includes SAN management and storage resource management software, as well as performance monitoring, third-party analytics, configuration management, and provisioning and data reduction products. There was no bronze winner in the Storage Management Tools category because of a low number of nominees.