In April and May, we asked you to cast votes for your favorite SQL Server products and services in our annual contest. SQL Server software, hardware, and service providers contributed more than 150 product nominations, from which we built our ballot. If you didn't see your preferred product or service in any one category on the ballot, we asked you to write in your choice. Your responses designated winners in 52 categories, including five special write-in categories for Best Software, Best Hardware, Most Innovative Product, Best Service and Support, and Best New Product. This year, Imceda Software, now a part of Quest Software, claimed the most titles overall, winning in nine categories, including Best Software, Most Innovative Product, and Best Service and Support. Dell claimed seven awards. Here are your choices for best overall products.
Imceda Wins 3 Best-in-Class Awards
As you were voting in May, Quest Software completed its acquisition of Imceda. Although Imceda and its products are now a part of Quest Software, you voted for Imceda and Imceda's products as independently owned.
Your votes give a resounding cheer for Imceda products and services. Three of the top five awards—all write-in categories—have gone to Imceda. LiteSpeed 2005 for Microsoft SQL Server won Most Innovative Product. Imceda also took the Best Service and Support and Best Software categories, echoing the company's wins in SQL Server Magazine's 2004 Reader's Choice contest in the same categories.
Best Software. Beginning a winning streak in the best-overall categories, Imceda for the second year claims the Best Software award. This year, readers have rewarded Imceda software for general excellence, rather than recognizing a specific software product. Founded in 1999, Imceda has focused exclusively on developing solutions for SQL Server, offering a broad range of software for SQL Server backup and recovery, change management, database management, and database programming.
Imceda created its flagship product, LiteSpeed for SQL Server, with high-performance, low-impact compression technology. LiteSpeed is easy to install and implement, reduces SQL Server backup and recovery requirements, and mirrors the commands for native SQL Server backup. Market demand for LiteSpeed has grown steadily since its initial release in 2000, and our Readers' Choice voters' write-in comments speak clearly to the product's effectiveness. "Absolutely the best on the market," and "Cool product" are typical responses. LiteSpeed's current release, LiteSpeed 2005 for Microsoft SQL Server, was launched in November 2004 and claimed three other awards this year, for Most Innovative Product; Best Database Backup/Recovery/ Archive Software (page 18); and Best Data-Encryption Tool (page 20).
Three other Imceda software products earned awards in this year's contest, further attesting to our readers' level of confidence in Imceda software. Speed SQL IDE, an integrated development environment (IDE) for SQL Server 2000 and 7.0 databases, won the Best Integrated Development Environment award. Speed Change Manager, a database-comparison tool for SQL Server 2000 or 7.0, won the Best Change and Configuration Management and Best Comparison and Synchronization Tool awards. And Speed Coefficient, a performance-profiling tool for SQL Server 2000 and 7.0, won the Best Database Performance-Tuning Tool award.
Most Innovative Product. This is LiteSpeed for SQL Server's second straight year as winner of the Most Innovative Product title. This year, LiteSpeed 2005, the updated version of the original LiteSpeed that was released in 2002, continues the tradition begun by its predecessor. Voters still like LiteSpeed—a lot—citing the product's speed, efficiency, and cost savings as worthy of note.
By integrating compression and encryption in the SQL Server backup process, LiteSpeed kills several birds with one stone by reducing storage requirements and the time necessary to perform backup and restoration. Customers can see reductions in the size of their backups of as much as 90 percent, with backup speeds increasing as much as three times. Compression algorithms let you reduce temporary disk storage space for backups as well as overall tape space. Compression occurs in cache, reducing network overhead enough that backup and restore operations can take place at any time without disrupting general system operation.
Best Service and Support. Also for the second year, voters gave the nod to Imceda for offering the best service and support. Responding to Imceda's win in this category in the 2004 Reader's Choice contest, Imceda Vice President of Marketing Edward Harnish told us, "We want people who are dedicated to going the extra mile." In 2005, you've told us that this spirit is alive and well at Imceda. As one voter commented: "Imceda's Luke Weber is not a member of the tech support team, yet he's my Go-to Guy. Each time I've needed assistance, he's routed me to the right person—each and every time I've phoned. He's the coolest!"
Imceda provides 24 × 7 telephone and email support. Live chat support for immediate assistance is available from the Imceda Web site's Support pages. Imceda's Web forums are a popular destination where customers can report bugs, suggest product improvements, solicit advice, and discuss their implementations. Imceda service and support engineers are dedicated to specific products and regularly monitor and participate in the forums.
Most Innovative Product
Imceda Software, LiteSpeed 2005 for Microsoft SQL Server
Best Service and Support
Readers Say Hewlett-Packard Makes the Best Hardware
Upsetting Dell, last year's winner in the Best Hardware category, HP takes the honors this year according to your write-in votes. The largest provider of high-end and 64-bit Windows servers, HP designs its entire server line to optimize high availability, interoperability, and virtualization. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, HP offers a range of x86- and Itanium-based servers, including Integrity and ProLiant servers.
According to a November 2004 customer survey, more HP customers use ProLiant servers for SQL Server applications than any other platform. A large part of this popularity stems from the fact that HP has produced more SQL Server 2000 TPC-C and SQL Server TPC-H benchmarks than any other hardware system vendor. And in June, the HP Integrity rx8620-32 set a new benchmark for TPC-H@1000GB performance running Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.
In addition to performance benefits, the ProLiant server family offers a range of solutions to meet a variety of data-management needs, including ultradense server blades, 1U rack servers, and high-availability clusters. The Integrity family of servers makes scalability and flexibility available to businesses of every size. The entry-class Integrity rx4640-8 server can scale to as many as eight Itanium 2 processors and 128GB of memory in a 4U form factor. The Integrity Superdome enterprise server solution makes possible 128-way configurations and multiple-OS capability.
Quest Central for SQL Server Performance Analysis Is Best New Product
Diagnosing and solving SQL Server performance problems can be a difficult task. Problems can originate with hardware, the OS, SQL Server itself, or applications running on SQL Server. And analyzing large amounts of data can require several separate native SQL Server utilities. Quest Software tackled this challenge by developing Quest Central for SQL Server Performance Analysis, and SQL Server Magazine Readers' Choice voters have endorsed the product's value by voting it this year's Best New Product. (Quest Central for SQL Server Performance Analysis also took the award for Best Database Monitoring/Analysis Software, page 13.)
Quest Central for SQL Server Performance Analysis is a workload analysis tool that combines granular monitoring, minimal overhead, unique memory sampling technology, and a historical-performance repository. Users can look inside stored procedures or server-side cursors, diagnose problems when SQL Server is overloaded or not responding, and correlate performance to any change on the server—right down to a single changing query plan. The performance repository gives DBAs the unique ability to diagnose performance problems that stem from problems that occurred in the past. The tool establishes performance baselines and trends for any programs and SQL statements you specify and uses predictive analysis to estimate when system performance will degrade and affect end-user response times.
First released in early December 2004, Quest Central for SQL Server Performance Analysis is the result of Quest Software's focus on providing products that help its customers derive more value from their platforms of choice. "Three years ago, Quest Software made a commitment to deliver the most innovative and valuable products in the SQL Server market. It's very gratifying to see that hard work pay off," said Kevin Kline, director of technology for SQL Server Solutions at Quest Software. "The award of SQL Server Magazine's Best New Product for 2005 to Quest Central for SQL Server Performance Analysis is a strong validation of our commitment to innovation and value."
Best New Product
Quest Software, Quest Central for SQL Server Performance Analysis