Data storage buyers are increasingly looking to do more with less. That is, organizations need comprehensive products that don't break the bank.
Winners in the 21st edition of the TechTarget Storage Products of the Year awards put a premium on functionality amid a cost-conscious market. The competition, which recognizes the best in enterprise data storage systems, drew numerous heavy hitters from the storage and tech market, plus some newcomers.
TechTarget invited vendors to submit their products for consideration last fall. To be eligible, vendors must have initially released or significantly upgraded their products on or after Sept. 22, 2021, and before Sept. 1, 2022.
A panel of industry experts -- consultants, analysts, users and TechTarget editors -- helped select the winners in four categories: backup and disaster recovery hardware, software and services; cloud storage; disk and disk subsystems; and storage system and application software.
Judges rated products on several factors, including innovation, performance, ease of use, functionality and value. The results are a collection of products that tackle trends such as data security -- especially in backup products -- containers and flash storage. Many entries touted improved performance and flexibility.
In addition, we've done things a little differently this year -- instead of announcing finalists in January, we decided to go straight to the winners.
Some of our previous gold-, silver- and bronze-winning vendors made a repeat journey to the podium this year, while one made its first appearance. And in one category, there was a rare back-to-back gold winner.
The top backup and disaster recovery services of 2022
Security is a key concern in modern backup and disaster recovery services. That factor is reflected in the winners of the backup and disaster recovery hardware, software and services category. Judges gave high rankings to products that provide resilience and security features, such as immutability and air gaps. Judge critiques also noted products that offer easy integration and scalability.
Gold winner: Infinidat InfiniGuard
Infinidat Inc.'s InfiniGuard modern data protection and cyber resilience product received high praise from the judges for its performance and ease of integration. Scalable to 50 petabytes, InfiniGuard works with all major backup software providers and offers strong backup and recovery performance, according to the vendor.
InfiniGuard includes InfiniSafe cyber resilience software at no charge. One judge noted that InfiniSafe brings necessary security features to the product, such as immutable snapshots, air gapping, forced forensics and rapid recovery.
Judges also gave high scores for InfiniGuard's ease of use and functionality. "Infinidat InfiniGuard is a high-end data protection appliance," said another judge. "It addresses nearly every need in data protection for high-capacity, business-critical applications. In those environments, it's a tremendous value."
Silver winner: Druva Data Resiliency Cloud
Druva Inc.'s Data Resiliency Cloud impressed judges with its value and functionality. The platform -- which garnered gold in this category last year under its old product name -- provides cyber resilience and protects across multiple clouds, data centers, SaaS apps and edge devices.
"Druva Data Resiliency Cloud is a highly versatile, comprehensive and scalable SaaS solution," said one judge.
The product also comes with a $10 million data resiliency guarantee to protect customer data across five key risk categories: cyber, human, application, operation and environmental.
One judge noted that Druva improved its already solid backup with better automation, security and observability, plus the data resiliency guarantee.
Bronze winner: Kasten K10 V5.0
Vendor Kasten by Veeam is a repeat bronze finisher in this category. Its Kasten K10 V5.0 offers enhanced security and enables integrations with technologies and platforms so customers have freedom of choice with products. Our judges gave the product solid scores for both innovation and performance, with one commenting that the company continues to set the bar for data protection for applications running on Kubernetes.
"This version expands its security and platform support," said the judge.
Version 5.0 of Kasten by Veeam's flagship product is focused on helping enterprises minimize the financial impact caused by attacks on data and cloud applications. One judge described it as "innovative and integrated protection for Kubernetes, simplifying development and operations."
The best enterprise cloud storage of 2022
Enterprises face economic uncertainties, such as shrinking headcounts and tighter budgets, heading into 2023.
Data storage buyers are looking to stretch existing resources and their own dollars more than ever before, leading to a rise in popularity for vendor-neutral storage software. Such software can help pool resources across disparate hardware or interconnect file storage silos in a hybrid environment.
Our selections for best enterprise cloud storage products all tackled this challenge from different technical perspectives and customer needs.
Gold winner: MinIO Enterprise
For the second year in a row, MinIO Inc. takes gold in the cloud storage category.
MinIO Enterprise is a software-defined, Kubernetes-native object store that enables persistent storage for containers across all major public clouds, private clouds and on-premises storage systems. The software is priced based upon usable capacity with a cost per terabyte, per month model.
Judges were effusive with their praise for the product -- known as MinIO Release.2022-09-25T15-44-53Z -- but noted that the product's flexibility does result in a need for configuration and maintenance experience.
"MinIO has become the standard against which object storage solutions are measured," one judge said. "Its performance is gated only by the hardware on which it's installed, so there is some assembly required to install it."
Silver winner: Nasuni File Data Platform
Another returning category medalist from last year, Nasuni Corp. takes the silver with its flagship cloud file storage platform.
Nasuni File Data Platform provides a unified namespace for both NAS and cloud file storage for file collaboration. The service is vendor- and cloud-agnostic, enabling users to collate files wherever they're stored.
Judges praised Nasuni's suite of capabilities, especially for customers with massive amounts of unstructured file data.
"The Nasuni platform offers a unique approach to providing a single global file system that promises infinite scalability," one judge said. "It can be extended to include file access for remote and hybrid users."
However, judges did note that the service is "not cheap" compared with those of competitors.
Bronze winner: Lightbits v3.0
Vendor Lightbits Labs -- which won bronze in last year's hyper-converged category -- has garnered a third-place finish in a different category with Lightbits v3.0. The product targets demanding data storage users who may need up to 1.5 million IOPS per volume.
Lightbits software connects block storage across a network using NVMe-oF for pooled storage capabilities without additional adaptors. Other features include snapshots, restores and automatic upgrades.
The Lightbits software provides low-latency storage volumes for demanding I/O applications like databases.
One judge said the product "delivers exceptional performance and functionality missing from AWS' own Elastic Block Store," and that it's a "strong offering at an affordable price."
The best enterprise storage arrays of 2022
Medalists in the disk and disk subsystems category run the gamut from two legacy vendors who have made previous podium finishes but are still looking to innovate, to a newish vendor who is no stranger to storage. All three enterprise storage array winners ranked high on functionality -- which has gained importance as storage has become more commoditized -- and increased performance.
Gold winner: Infinidat InfiniBox SSA II
Moving from silver last year to gold in 2022, Infinidat takes the top spot with its InfiniBox SSA II, a second-generation all-flash enterprise storage array. Judges praised its improved availability and resiliency.
The vendor's Neural Cache uses deep learning to improve data storage efficiency, and new algorithms have enabled further workload optimization. Infinidat now guarantees recoverability of a snapshot in under 60 seconds. InfiniBox SSA II uses Infinidat's InifiniSafe reference architecture to help combat ransomware. Cyber-resilient capabilities include logical remote air gapping and immutable snapshots.
"Infinidat continues to show how to engineer for scale and performance, with an architectural cost-efficiency," one judge said of the updates.
Silver winner: Dell PowerStore with PowerStoreOS 3.0
Dell Technologies also saw a step up in its ranking -- this time from bronze to silver -- with PowerStoreOS 3.0, the latest OS for its PowerStore enterprise storage array.
In this update, Dell added more than 120 features our judges found useful for a variety of organizations in the midmarket. Although version 3.0 of the OS needs a PowerStore to work, the new features make the array itself easier to use and provide better performance and higher security.
"This is a major leap upgrade, not just window dressing," one judge said. "Some of the upgrades are merely hardware upgrades in processing and NVMe drives. But some are quite impressive, such as VMware end-to-end visibility, increased security and better ransomware detection."
Bronze winner: Western Digital Ultrastar DC HC570
Taking the bronze is Western Digital Corp.'s Ultrastar DC HC570, a 22 TB HDD. The largest conventional magnetic recording drive on the market, according to the vendor, the DC HC570 also added flash storage for storing metadata.
Judges praised the drive's higher capacity and performance, all while keeping costs down. The HDD comes with lower power and cooling demands that create a better TCO, which is becoming more important as flash drops in price. The Ultrastar DC HC570 helps keep HDDs more economically competitive against media such as quad-level cell (QLC) SSDs for the time being.
"The DC HC570 is indicative of thriving innovation," one judge said.
The top data storage and management tools of 2022
Flexibility is top of mind for enterprise data storage buyers as workloads continue to evolve and cost concerns remain top of mind.
Speed and performance often come at a premium with storage products. Organizations want to put every dollar to good use, while simplifying their IT environments and infrastructure.
Vendors that provide flexible, unified and high-performing storage systems and management products are rewarded in today's market. The winners of this year's storage system and application software category are mindful of these needs.
Gold winner: Pure Storage FlashBlade//S
Pure Storage Inc. took the gold this year with FlashBlade//S, a unified file and object storage array.
An expansion of Pure Storage's FlashBlade product, FlashBlade//S provides disaggregated storage and compute so users can independently scale capacity and performance to simplify data storage and management for changing workloads.
Using the vendor's Purity software and QLC flash memory, FlashBlade//S is designed for organizations looking to increase speed and performance. With the initial FlashBlade, users had to upgrade the whole system to improve storage or compute, a problem FlashBlade//S looks to address. FlashBlade//S supports Pure Storage's DirectFlash Modules, enabling denser flash per blade to increase performance. The product is available in two models -- the S200 built for efficiency and the S500 built for performance, according to the vendor.
One judge commended the product for its "use of cost-effective QLC flash and differentiated software," and highlighted its ability to scale and adapt to an organization's evolving storage and performance needs.
Silver winner: StorOne Storage Engine 3.8
Previously a finalist, software-defined storage vendor StorOne Inc. finally makes it onto the podium with a silver finish for its Storage Engine 3.8.
In the latest version of its product, StorOne introduced a pricing model that charges users based on the number of drives they use rather than total capacity. Organizations that want to upgrade their existing drives for higher-density ones can do so with no additional software licensing costs. The product also offers auto-tiering capabilities and encryption through the vendor's Virtual Storage Containers.
Our judges applauded Storage Engine 3.8 primarily for its flexibility and simplified pricing model for data storage and management. As one judge stated, "Low pricing, exceptional functionality [and] high performance equals great value."
Bronze winner: Vast Data Universal Storage 4.0
Vast Data Inc. makes a return to the TechTarget Storage Products of the Year podium with its Universal Storage platform.
Version 4.0 includes the vendor's Universal Storage software designed to consolidate data and applications onto flash. It also includes a new hardware platform, Ceres, which uses technologies such as Nvidia BlueField DPUs for AI and big data workloads. Read-only snapshots and support for NFS4 with remote direct memory access are among other standout features.
Judges praised the product for its innovation and performance qualities.
"Vast Data's use of DPUs to accelerate storage functions gives it a hardware-accelerated boost that its competitors have a hard time matching," one judge said. "Vast continues to provide a differentiated architecture that points to the future of enterprise storage."
We'd like to thank everyone who entered the TechTarget Storage Products of the Year competition and congratulate all our winning enterprise storage systems.