In-Depth

The 2008 Readers' Choice Awards: Introducing Redmond's Triple Crown

To recognize the dynasties in our annual Readers' Choice competition, <i>Redmond</i> is introducing the "Triple Crown," a new award for products that have won (at least) three Readers' Choice honors in a row.

The number three is everywhere. Three strikes, three traffic lights, the three-ring circus -- they're all famous triads. For curious Googlers -- sorry, Microsoft, we mean MSN LiveSearchers, of course -- there's even a Web site called Threes.com that dedicates itself to all things triple.
CLICK TO FIND OUT ABOUT OTHER FAMOUS TRIPLE CROWNS

Well, Threes.com can add a new entry to its list of trinities -- the Redmond Readers' Choice Triple Crown award, which honors products that have won (at least) three consecutive Readers' Choice Awards.

In fact, some of this year's winners have won four times in a row or more -- but for the purposes of the Triple Crown, we're only going back two years, to 2006.

A quick glance at this year's results shows that a majority of the product winners this year are taking home Redmond's Triple Crown. And that's why we invented it -- not because it's rare but because it's common. Winning a Readers' Choice Award is always an honor, but those products that win again and again deserve special recognition for staying on top in a competitive industry, and that's what the Triple Crown award and logo give them.

They have to stay on top in order to win it, though. The Triple Crown is for winners of three consecutive awards, not just for products that have won three times. And it doesn't go to ISV winners, either -- although being an ISV, or non-Microsoft, winner is still an important honor -- but only to those products that come out on top three times running.

CLICK FOR READERS' CHOICE SURVEY METHODOLOGY

And while there are a lot of Triple Crown winners this time around, every one of them will have to come out swinging next year in order to retain the award. A couple of two-time winners might just find themselves with a Triple Crown next year.

Network and Systems Management
Best Network Management Product:
22 products in category
ScriptLogic Desktop Authority
Winner and ISV Winner 17.1%
Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (formerly MOM)
Preferred Product 15.8%
Microsoft Systems Management Server
Preferred Product 14.8%
It's a huge upset for ScriptLogic's Desktop Authority application, which knocks off two competitors from Microsoft for its first-ever victory in this category. System Center

Operations Manager and Systems Management Server might have split the votes between them, giving Desktop Authority an opening, but ScriptLogic's product didn't fail to capitalize on the situation.

Users say they love it. Scott C. Davis, IT director for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction at Auburn University in Alabama, used Desktop Authority to untangle a nasty printing problem that involved sorting out printing rights for more than 2,500 users on more than 70 printers: "I'm the IT director, and I've got four people that report to me. I've got one person assigned to architecture, one assigned to industrial design and one to building science. It would take all four of us a day just to get the printing right-I'm doing it all now in a phone call and an e-mail."

With Desktop Authority, it's all about simplicity, says Tory Skyers, senior infrastructure engineer at Prudential Fox and Roach, a real estate firm that operates in greater Philadelphia. "It doesn't take a long time to understand what you're doing," Skyers says. "This product is easy to manage and easy to get a hold of. I like the ease of use."

Best Application Management Product:
21 products in category
Microsoft Operations Manager
Triple Crown Winner 35.9%
ScriptLogic Desktop Authority MSI Studio
ISV Winner 15.4%
LANDesk
Preferred Product 9.2%
It's a Triple Crown for Microsoft Operations Manager, which won by a fairly wide margin in a large field of competitors. ScriptLogic checks in as ISV winner in another victory for the Desktop Authority product.

Best Performance Management Product:
16 products in category
Microsoft Operations Manager
Triple Crown Winner 34.0%
SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor
ISV Winner 16.0%
Hewlett-Packard OpenView
Preferred Product 12.3%
Microsoft scores another Triple Crown in this category, with SolarWinds sweeping in to pick up ISV honors over HP's OpenView.

Best General Network Monitoring Tool:
53 products in category
Microsoft Operations Manager
Triple Crown Winner 20.3%
Cisco Systems Syslog Analyzer
ISV Winner 15.9%
HP OpenView Operations for Windows
Preferred Product 8.7%
Readers liked the big boys in this category. Operations Manager wins the Triple Crown in yet another category, this time in a field packed with 53 products. Another mega-vendor, Cisco, chimes in as ISV winner with Syslog Analyzer. HP, yet another monster player, scores with a preferred product. Readers also offered a long list of favorite products not included among this year's survey choices.

Best Interoperability Product:
4 products in category
MKS Toolkit
Triple Crown Winner 38.1%
Centrify DirectControl
Preferred Product 20.5%
Likewise (formerly called Centeris) Likewise
Preferred Product 19.5%
MKS Toolkit won its category handily and snatched a Triple Crown. Chris Hambleton, a Bristol, England-based deputy engineering general manager for Zuken, a Japanese electronic and engineering design firm, passes on via e-mail a Toolkit success story: "Zuken started using MKS over 10 years ago in order to help with the transition of its Unix-based tools to the NT platform. This helped us to bring our Unix-based tools to the market on the PC platform more rapidly. This was originally used to port our VISULA suite of printed circuit board (PCB) design tools to the PC platform. It also helped us to introduce our Unix-trained developers more rapidly to NT and ease the transition to development on the PC platform. MKS is now also used in our Lightning suite of PCB design tools for the design of high-speed PCBs. MKS continues to be actively used in development and is a central part of the development environment on the PC platform."

Best Bandwidth/Traffic Monitoring Product:
5 products in category
Lightspeed Systems Total Traffic Control
Winner 23.5%
Argent Guardian
Preferred Product 20.1%
Network Instruments Observer
Preferred Product 18.1%
Lightspeed's Total Traffic Control is one win away from a Triple Crown, racking up its second straight success this year. It narrowly beat Argent Guardian, with Network Instruments Observer also coming close. Interestingly, fully 10 percent of readers in this category wrote in a product that wasn't in our survey list.

Best Web Usage Monitor:
11 products in category
Websense Enterprise
Triple Crown Winner 35.4%
SurfControl Web Filter
Preferred Product 21.4%
Blue Coat Proxy SG and AV Web Proxy Servers
Preferred Product 9.1%
There's no stopping Websense Enterprise, which stormed to a Triple Crown by a large margin over the two Preferred Products that trailed it.

Best Asset Management/ Resource Inventory Product:
12 products in category
Altiris Asset Management Suite
Triple Crown Winner 25.0%
Altiris Inventory Solution
Preferred Product 11.7%
Novell Asset Manager
Preferred Product 11.7%
Numara (formerly Intuit) Track-It
Preferred Product 10.9%
Symantec's Altiris acquisition looks wiser all the time, and Asset Management suite helps buoy that outlook by taking home a Triple Crown. Altiris also scored a Preferred Product nod in the same category with Altiris Inventory Solution. We awarded an extra Preferred Product laurel because Novell and Altiris Inventory Solution finished in a dead heat for second place, and Numara was very close behind.

Best License Management Product:
6 products in category
Microsoft Systems Management Server
Triple Crown Winner 53.7%
Altiris Compliance Suite
Preferred Product and ISV Winner 18.9%
Altiris Server Provisioning Suite
Preferred Product 6.5%
It's a strong showing for Altiris, with two Preferred Products and an ISV winner-but Microsoft's Systems Management Server still cruises to the Triple Crown

Best Compliance Tool:
16 products in category
ScriptLogic File System Auditor
Winner 18.7%
NetIQ
Preferred Product 18.5%
Symantec/Bindview
Preferred Product 12.1%
ScriptLogic took this category by just one vote over incumbent NetIQ, which snags Preferred Product honors.

Best Virtual Server Product:
2 products in category
VMware Server
Triple Crown Winner and ISV Winner 60.0%
Microsoft Virtual Server 2005
Preferred Product 28.3%
Its stock price might have taken a few hits in 2008, and it might be facing new competition from Microsoft, but VMware remains king of the Readers' Choice virtualization jungle. GSX easily won over Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 to take the rare Triple Crown-ISV Winner honor. ESX, another VMware product, scored quite a few write-in votes as well.

Best Virtual PC Product:
5 products in category
VMware Workstation Edition
Triple Crown Winner and ISV Winner 57.8%
Microsoft Virtual PC for Windows
Preferred Product 35.0%
Jared Beard, associate director of IT labs at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., notes one reason why he likes Triple Crown winner Workstation Edition: "Students can take environments with them at the end of the semester. It lets them take that VM processor hardware to a processor back home and continue the work. A lot of times when you're working on a PC at the end of the class, it's done. That machine is wiped, and it's gone. [Workstation Edition] gives you flexibility like you've never had before."

Best Non-Microsoft Browser:
5 products in category
Firefox
Triple Crown Winner 77.5%
To be fair, our users seem to prefer Internet Explorer to non-Microsoft options, but Firefox so dominated the non-Microsoft choices that we didn't even bother awarding Preferred Products in this category. For what it's worth, though, Netscape Navigator is still hanging on with about 3 percent of respondents.

Best SQL Tool:
14 products in category
SQL Power Tools
Winner 36.6%
ScriptLogic Security Explorer for SQL Server
Preferred Product 11.2%
Quest Software Spotlight on SQL
Preferred Product 10.8%
SQL Power Tools continues to perform in the category that's almost its namesake, claiming a second straight win in the best SQL tool category

Installation and Deployment
Best Software Distribution Product:
11 products in category
Microsoft Systems Management Server
Triple Crown Winner 53.4%
ScriptLogic Desktop Authority
Preferred Product & ISV Winner 17.2%
IBM Tivoli Netview Distribution Manager
Preferred Product 6.6%
Systems Management Server just crushed the competition in this category and picked up a Triple Crown.

Best Software Packaging Product:
4 products in category
Installshield AdminStudio
Triple Crown Winnner 45.4%
Altiris Package Studio
Preferred Product 20.0%
ScriptLogic Desktop Authority MSI Studio
Preferred Product 17.0%
Installshield adds its name to the Triple Crown list with a big victory. Altiris and ScriptLogic each pick up a Preferred Product Award.

Best Drive Imaging Product:
4 products in category
Symantec Ghost Suite
Triple Crown Winner 54.2%
Acronis True Image
Preferred Product 26.3%
Altiris Migration Suite
Preferred Product 8.3%
Almost everybody's a winner in this category, but Symantec's Ghost Suite is the big winner, bringing home a Triple Crown and more than 50 percent of the vote. Count Auburn's Davis as a fan: "Ghost works for us and it works well," he says succinctly.

Administration
Best Migration Product:
16 products in category
Quest Migration Suite for Active Directory/Exchange
Triple Crown Winner 17.1%
Altiris Deployment Solution
Preferred Product 13.6%
Acronis Migrate Easy
Preferred Product 11.1%
Acronis Snap Deploy
Preferred Product 11.1%
This was a real barn-burner, but Quest's suite hung on to nab a Triple Crown and just nip an Altiris application and two Acronis products. In this category, 10 percent of readers voted for "Other," showing how competitive the migration technology space is right now. Once again, we bestowed an extra Preferred Product award because the two Acronis products tied each other.

Best Server Migration Product:
7 products in category
Altiris Deployment Solution
Winner 28.9%
Quest Migration Suite for Active Directory/Exchange
Preferred Product 21.1%
Altiris Client Management Suite
Preferred Product 11.6%
It's a second straight win for Altiris's Deployment Solution, which will be up for a Triple Crown next year. But Quest Migration Suite could provide a stiff challenge again.

Best Group Policy Manager:
11 products in category
Microsoft Group Policy Management Console
Triple Crown Winner 55.0%
ScriptLogic Active Administrator
Preferred Product and ISV Winner 18.6%
NetIQ Group Policy Administrator
Preferred Product 6.5%
It wasn't all that close, as Microsoft took the Triple Crown. ScriptLogic made a strong ISV showing.

Best Disk Defragmentation and Drive Monitoring Tool:
7 products in category
Executive Software Diskeeper
Triple Crown Winner 33.0%
Winternals Defrag Manager
Preferred Product 22.6%
Acronis Disk Director Suite
Preferred Product 11.0%
Executive Software takes the Triple Crown with Diskeeper, a strong winner in the category.

Security
Best Firewall Product-Hardware-Based:
14 products in category
Cisco Systems PIX series
Triple Crown Winner 49.0%
Sonicwall Pro and TZ series
Preferred Product 15.1%
Symantec VelociRaptor
Preferred Product 10.0%
It's a Triple Crown for industry giant Cisco, which dominates the hardware-based firewall product category.

Best Firewall Product-Software-Based:
12 products in category
Microsoft ISA Server 2004
Triple Crown Winner 26.8%
Check Point Software Technologies Firewall
Preferred Product & ISV Winner 19.7%
Symantec Enterprise Firewall
Preferred Product 19.4%
ISA, ISA baby: One of Microsoft's staples steals a Triple Crown by holding off ISV winner Check Point and Symantec's Enterprise Firewall.

Best Security Auditing Product:
23 products in category
ScriptLogic Enterprise Security Reporter
Winner 15.1%
CA eTrust Access Control
Preferred Product 10.1%
GFI LANguard Security Event Log Monitor
Preferred Product 11.2%
ScriptLogic comes up big again, taking the security-auditing product category for the first time.

Best Intrusion Detection System:
15 products in category
Cisco Systems' Cisco Secure Intrusion Detection System
Triple Crown Winner 33.4%
Snort
Preferred Product 13.1%
Trend Micro ScanMail for Microsoft Exchange
Preferred Product 8.9%
Cisco racks up another Triple Crown with its Secure Intrusion Detection System, which easily ran away from competitors in this category.

Best Intrusion Prevention System:
18 products in category
Cisco Systems' Okena Stormwatch
Triple Crown Winner 28.3%
Network Associates IntruShield
Preferred Product 8.8%
Symantec ManTrap
Preferred Product 6.9%
Cisco scores again with a Triple Crown, this time in a category in which "Other" actually finished in strong second place.

Best Smart Card/Biometric/Two-Factor Authentication System:
10 products in category
RSA SecureID
Triple Crown Winner 55.8%
Digital Persona
Preferred Product 6.3%
ActivCard Trinity
Preferred Product 5.2%
RSA SecureID gets a Triple Crown here with a dominant score-no one seems close to approaching SecureID's popularity.

Best Secure Messaging Tool or Service (Spam and Content Filtering):
50 products in category
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003
Triple Crown Winner 24.1%
Barracuda Networks Spam Firewall
Preferred Product and ISV Winner 8.4%
Postini
Preferred Product 6.4%
It's a landslide -- and a Triple Crown-for Exchange Server in a very crowded field.

Best Anti-Virus Tool:
11 products in category
Symantec Antivirus
Triple Crown Winner 30.2%
McAfee GroupShield
Preferred Product 16.4%
Trend Micro
Preferred Product 13.6%
Symantec nails down a Triple Crown and hammers home another win in its bread-and-butter category.

Best Anti-Spyware Tool:
13 products in category
McAfee Anti-Spyware
Triple Crown Winner 22.0%
Trend Micro Antispyware
Preferred Product 18.0%
Webroot
Preferred Product 9.1%
Elvis Costello sang about "Watching the Detectives," but McAfee is our readers' choice for keeping an eye on the spies. And that's a Triple Crown for Symantec's security rival.

Training and Certification
Best Exam Preparation Product or Service:
10 products in category
Microsoft Press
Winner 26.0%
Transcender
Preferred Product and ISV Winner 23.6%
Cisco Press
Preferred Product 9.7%
Microsoft Press steals this category back after getting knocked off in 2007. Transcender still comes out an ISV Winner.

Best Online, Disk-Based or Instructor-Led Training:
15 products in category
Microsoft Press
Triple Crown Winner 26.8%
Global Knowledge
Preferred Product and ISV Winner 13.3%
SkillSoft (Books24x7)
Preferred Product 9.9%
It's a big win for Microsoft Press, which takes home the Triple Crown in this category.

Best Windows Certification-Based Boot Camp:
5 products in category
Global Knowledge
Triple Crown Winner 41.6%
The Training Camp
Preferred Product 15.4%
Mountainview Systems
Preferred Product 13.3%
Global Knowledge gains the Triple Crown in the boot-camp competition by a large margin.

Storage and Backup
Best Backup System:
23 products in category
Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR)
Triple Crown Winner 28.2%
Symantec NetBackup
Preferred Product 12.0%
Acronis True Image
Preferred Product 11.9%
Symantec dominated this category, and the venerable BESR easily took home a Triple Crown in it.

Best Storage Management Product:
18 products in category
Symantec Storage Central
Triple Crown Winner 19.6%
EMC ControlCenter SRM Software
Preferred Product 19.1%
Seagate Cheetah, Savio and NL35 series
Preferred Product 7.8%
Storage Central won this hotly contested category by just three votes-but it was enough to steal a Triple Crown for Symantec.

Best Disaster Recovery Product or Service:
27 products in category
Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR)
Triple Crown Winner 18.5%
Symantec NetBackup
Preferred Product 12.2%
Altiris Recovery Solution
Preferred Product 9.7%
It's more raging success for Symantec as BESR takes home another Triple Crown.

Best Clustering and Failover Solution:
7 products in category
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Clustering Services
Triple Crown Winner 52.8%
Veritas Cluster Server
Preferred Product and ISV Winner 16.0%
Neverfail
Preferred Product 7.6%
Apparently, nobody clusters like Microsoft; Windows Server 2003 cruised to a Triple Crown in this category.

Best Load Balancing Product:
9 products in category
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Load Balancing
Triple Crown Winner 53.7%
F5 Networks 3-DNS Controller
Preferred Product and ISV Winner 12.1%
Mercury LoadRunner
Preferred Product 7.2%
... And it's another Triple Crown for Windows Server 2003. F5 makes a strong showing as ISV winner.

Most Reliable Windows-Based Server Platform:
5 products in category
HP
Winner 42.7%
Dell
Preferred Product 12.0%
IBM
Preferred Product 12.0%
HP edges incumbent Dell in this clash of the titans. The final margin of victory was just 16 votes-we almost had to examine hanging chads.

Best Remote
Troubleshooting Solution:
13 products in category
ScriptLogic Desktop Authority Remote Management Gateway
Winner 15.7%
Altiris Carbon Copy
Preferred Product 13.6%
NetSupport Manager
Preferred Product 12.3%
ScriptLogic just takes this category over Altiris for the first time.

Desktop Authority was arguably the product of the Readers' Choice awards this year, stealing wins from incumbents in several categories. One caveat here, though: "Other" actually won the category with almost 19 percent of the vote.

Best Network Automation and Batch Processing tool:
14 products in category
ScriptLogic Desktop Authority
Triple Crown Winner 39.8%
HP OpenView Operations for Windows
Preferred Product 21.2%
MKS Toolkit for Enterprise Developers
Preferred Product 7.6%
It's another win for Desktop Authority -- this time, a Triple Crown. OpenView also made a strong showing.

Best Scripting Tool:
5 products in category
Sapien PrimalScript
Triple Crown Winner 26.4%
iTripoli Admin Script Editor
Preferred Product 20.5%
Adersoft VbsEdit/JsEdit
Preferred Product 15.1%
It's a Triple Crown for Sapien

Best Patch
Management Product:
17 products in category
Microsoft Software Update Services
Triple Crown Winner 51.0%
Altiris Patch Management Solution
Preferred Product and ISV Winner 10.9%
Shavlik Technologies HFNetChkPro
Preferred Product 10.0%
Oh, those Patch Tuesdays -- readers love them, or at least they love Microsoft's Update Services, which eases to a Triple Crown. Altiris nabbed the ISV Winner spot over Shavlik's entry at the wire.

Best Application Sharing Tool:
3 products in category
Citrix XenApp
Winner and ISV Winner 48.3%
Microsoft Terminal Services
Preferred Product 47.0%
Down goes Microsoft! Well, at least in one category, anyway. By the slimmest of margins, Citrix steals the application-sharing tool category and ruins Terminal Server's Triple Crown chances.
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