The "Best of TechEd Awards," produced by SQL Server Magazine and Windows IT Pro, recognizes Microsoft partners who offer innovative products and services. At Microsoft TechEd in Orlando, Florida, in June, there was no shortage of worthy products and services to consider: The field included more than 260 entries. The judging panel, consisting of SQL Server Magazine and Windows IT Pro editors, including SQL Server Magazine and Windows IT Pro Technical Director Michael Otey and SQL Server Magazine Technical Editor Diana May, evaluated all the entries, choosing finalists according to three determining criteria: strategic importance to the market, competitive advantage, and value to customers.

This year, the SQL Server–related categories in Best of TechEd are Business Intelligence, Database Development and Administration, Developer Tools and Technologies, and Web Development. For the second year, a SQL Server–related product was recognized from among the entire field of entries as Most Innovative Product.

Most Innovative Product
RapidMind Platform 2.0


The RapidMind Platform 2.0 is a unique product that lets developers take advantage of the latent processing power in their systems. Using a unique multiprocessing computing engine, RapidMind Platform enables C++ applications to transparently perform parallel processing by using either the system's multicore CPUs, or NVIDIA or AMD's ATI Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). Performance increases of as much as 30 times are possible. Developers can continue to use standard C++ and their existing compilers and tools. RapidMind Platform is hardware-independent and supports both Windows and Linux OSs.

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Best Business Intelligence Product
SoftArtisans OfficeWriter


SoftArtisans' OfficeWriter is the reporting tool that addresses the universal problem, "What version is the truth?" The software enables designing and deploying SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services (SSRS) reports directly from Microsoft Office and uses SQL Server database sources to provide timely, single-source data. By deploying reports through Reporting Services, OfficeWriter lets you control data access at the database level while presenting data through a front end that doesn't require users to understand Microsoft Visual Studio or SQL Server Report Builder tools. Users access their reports in a Web interface; licensing and installation on a client isn't necessary because the OfficeWriter application resides on the server. This product strikes a great balance between controlling access to data and providing a flexible end-user reporting tool.

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Best Database Development and Administration Tool
Symantec i3 for SQL Server


Taking the approach that focusing on a single tier of the environment isn't sufficient, Symantec i3 for SQL Server uses a holistic approach to monitoring the health and performance of databases and their applications. Symantec i3 installs agents and logic to monitor response time across clients, the network, the Web, application servers, middleware servers, and SQL Server database servers, then isolates the components responsible for slowdowns and performance bottlenecks. A graphical interface lets you quickly drill down to locate the specific object causing a problem—whether a poorly designed SQL statement, program, or database object, or an OS or database resource shortage. Once you identify the problematic object, Symantec i3 gives you a look at the code, SQL statement, or other detail associated with that object and recommends a correction. A metrics repository ensures that Symantec i3 problem prediction continually improves and also provides the ability to simulate changes on the basis of past-performance data.

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Best Developer Tools and Technologies
Altova XMLSpy 2007


Altova's XMLSpy is the established industry-leader XML development environment. The latest release of the solution, XMLSpy 2007, adds Microsoft Office 2007 integration to the product's already impressive feature set. In addition to Office 2007 integration, XMLSpy 2007 includes an XML editor, Document Type Definition (DTD) and schema editing and validation, Extensible Style Language (XSL) and Extensible Style Language Transformation (XSLT) editing and debugging, support for XSLT 2.0 stylesheets, an XQuery editor and profilers, Web services development and debugging, and database integration with Microsoft Access and SQL Server, IBM DB2, and Oracle 9i and 10g. XMLSpy 2007 is fully integrated with Microsoft Visual Studio.NET 2002, 2003, and 2005.

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Best Web Development Tool
Strangeloop Networks AppScaler Appliance for ASP.NET/AJAX


Strangeloop's AppScaler Appliance for ASP.NET/AJAX, which was introduced at TechEd, is a plug-and-play network appliance that provides real-time adaptive network optimization for ASP.NET and Ajax applications without requiring changes in the infrastructure or the application code. By using an intelligent code-caching mechanism, AppScaler can increase ASP.NET Web application performance and reduce network bandwidth utilization by as much as 80 percent. Strangeloop's Dynamic Choreography engine optimizes the programming techniques of output caching, limiting viewstate use, and using caching to reduce data lookups and applies them in-line and in real time. AppScaler enables an organization to concentrate on providing feature-rich Web applications without requiring time consuming application performance optimization.

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Introducing the TechEd Attendee's Pick Awards


For the first time this year, the IT pros attending TechEd reviewed products and services exhibited on the show floor and voted for their favorites. Congratulations to the SQL Server–related winners!

Database Development and Administration:
Quest Software
's Quest Performance Analsis for SQL Server (http://www.quest.com/quest-performance-analysis-for-sql-server)

Developer Tools and Technologies:
Pegasus Imaging Corporation
's ImagXpress (http://www.pegasusimaging.com/imagxpress.htm)

Web Development and Infrastructure:
Developer Express's DXperience ASP.NET
(http://www.devexpress.com/products/net/dxperienceaspnet)

Most Innovative Product
RapidMind Platform 2.0, RapidMind
http://www.rapidmind.com

Best Business Intelligence Product
OfficeWriter, SoftArtisans
http://officewriter.softartisans.com

Best Database Development and Administration Tool
Symantec i3 for SQL Server, Symantec
http://www.symantec.com

Finalists
Change Director for SQL Server, Quest Software http://www.questcom/change-director-for-sql-server

DataDirect Connect for ADO.NET, DataDirect Technologies
http://www.datadirect.com/products/net/index.ssp

Best Developer Tools and Technologies
XMLSpy 2007, Altova
http://www.altova.com

Finalists
RadControls for WinForms, Telerik
http://www.telerik.com/products/winforms/overview.aspx

RapidMind Platform 2.0, RapidMind
http://www.rapidmind.com

Best Web Development Tool
AppScaler Appliance for Microsoft ASP.NET/AJAX, Strangeloop Networks
http://www.strangeloopnetworks.com

Finalists
DXperience ASP.NET, Developer Express
http://www.devexpress.com

DevInspect, SPI Dynamics
http://www.spidynamics.com