Imceda Software products and services won four of the top five awards—all write-in categories—in SQL Server Magazine's 2004 Readers' Choice contest, with its LiteSpeed for SQL Server backup and restore application claiming the Best Software and Most Innovative Product titles. The company's Speed Change Manager database-comparison tool won for Best New Product, and voters named the Burlington, Massachusetts-based firm best in service and support. (LiteSpeed also won as Best Enterprise Backup/Recovery/Archive Software—see page 34, and Imceda's Speed Coefficient won as Best Performance-Tuning Tool—see page 31.)

Edward Harnish, Imceda's vice president of marketing, said the software provider's main goal, as reflected in the names of its products, is to help businesses compete in today's fast-paced economy. "Time is money," he explained. "Organizations need to do more with less, and they need to do it quicker. That might mean backing up and restoring faster with LiteSpeed, or reconciling differences between databases faster with Speed Change Manager, or writing code faster with our Speed SQL IDE product."

Best Software and Most Innovative Product. Readers' Choice voters said LiteSpeed's compression saves them disk and tape storage space, backup and restore time, and disk, tape, and network costs. "It's so fast and efficient, it pays for itself in one use," one reader noted.

LiteSpeed boasts impressive backup compression ratios, with typical customers seeing between 75 and 90 percent compression, Harnish said. The compression algorithms let customers reduce both the temporary disk storage space a backup requires as well as overall tape space. Because of LiteSpeed's compression, some customers can even send their backup files offsite electronically instead of archiving backups to tape. LiteSpeed compresses in cache, which reduces overall network overhead so that customers, if they want, can do backups and restores during the workday without disrupting operations. LiteSpeed Professional Edition adds encryption capabilities to protect backup data and help organizations meet privacy-related regulatory requirements.

LiteSpeed can reduce backup time by 50 to 70 percent, increasing system availability and freeing IT to do other tasks. And just the cost-savings in tape cartridges, which cost $60 to $100 each, pays for the product almost immediately, Harnish said. Organizations that, for example, do a daily incremental backup, a full backup at the end of the week, then a monthly full backup could easily be using five tapes a day, or 100 tapes a month. "With LiteSpeed, you might need only one tape a day," Harnish noted.

DBAs can use LiteSpeed's full API set to integrate the LiteSpeed back end with other applications, including the standard SQL Server backup facilities. Imceda licenses LiteSpeed per CPU, with the Standard Edition costing around $1000 and the Professional Edition costing $1295; enterprise licensing is also available.

LiteSpeed's compression and encryption features make the product innovative, but the application's reliability, usability, and competitive pricing make it a top software product, Harnish noted. In a typical installation, customers can install the product in 15 minutes and be doing backups the same evening. "We also have focus," he added. "We do backup and recovery and tools for database developers. That's all our engineers and service and support people work on. They know the products inside and out, and that's why we can produce great software."

Best New Product. More and more database developers and administrators are working in team environments and facing a potential nightmare of different people making changes that might overwrite each other and affect the database. "As more people are touching the database, there clearly needed to be a tool that would let you compare those differences and determine what's going on," Harnish said. Speed Change Manager lets you take a snapshot of your database and compare the differences between the original version and the version after you make changes. Developers might want to compare before and after snapshots to see whether a coding change affected the database's behavior. Or you might want to do the comparison for auditing purposes to find out, for example, what transactions have occurred since yesterday. Speed Change Manager's color-coded interface lets you easily see what's changed, in which database, why, and who's responsible for the changes. Harnish said the product also has a quick learning curve for SQL Server professionals, featuring a similar look and feel to SQL Server's familiar development environment.

Best Service and Support. Voters listed speed, friendliness, product knowledge, and timely follow-up as key reasons they named Imceda tops in service and support. The company provides telephone and email support and hosts popular Web forums where customers can report bugs, suggest product improvements, and discuss their implementations with other users. "Our engineers monitor the forums throughout the day and often participate in discussions," Harnish said. "We get a lot of great feedback from the forums."

Imceda, which provides 24x7 support, typically responds to customer issues within a 2-hour window and solves problems within 1 man-day. The company, with 12 service and support engineers, features dedicated staff for each product. To keep morale high and encourage excellence, Imceda hosts contests to see how fast and completely service and support engineers can respond to customers, to reward engineers for converting customers into referenceable customers, and to recognize good customer satisfaction ratings. "Skill set is a given," Harnish said, in describing what the company looks for in quality service and support engineers. "Most important, we want people who are dedicated to going the extra mile."

Best Software and Most Innovative Product
Imceda Software, Litespeed for SQL Server
Best New Product
Imceda Software, Speed Change Manager
Best Service and Support
Imceda Software
888-763-7685, 781-229-6300 ext. 234
http://www.imceda.com