Fave Raves: 25 IT pros name their favorite products

What IT pros like, in their own words

It's not always easy to impress IT pros with new technology, but these hardware, software and cloud products managed to do it. The common thread? Gear that saves time or money, increases productivity or tightens security. If your favorite tech product didn't make the list, tell us about it.

[ MORE: 2012 favorites | 2011 favorites 

STORY: Hot cloud products IT pros swear by ]

Why it's a favorite: "With over 3,600 employees, 25 websites and over 15,000 endpoints on our network, we needed a solution that would give us real-time insight into the security status of each of those endpoints. Right after installing CounterACT on our network we discovered a number of issues that required immediate attention. We can't walk around our IT area and not hear the word ForeScout being mentioned. It has a reputation as a tool that can see everything, a function that is both greatly valued and heavily leveraged by the entire IT organization."

Years in IT: 17

Upcoming IT projects: BYOD using mobile device management (MobileIron) and NAC (ForeScout CounterACT)

Why it's a favorite: "Virtualization along with Veeam Backup & Replication got us through three worst-case scenarios: an earthquake, a tsunami and a fire. If our IT team hadn't implemented Veeam in our Corby, U.K., site and had continued backing up our virtual machines using the same tool we use to back up our physical servers, the VM recovery process would have taken at least seven days after a devastating fire. Restoring VMs with Veeam took hours -- a 95% reduction in time.

Years in IT: 20

Upcoming IT projects: AD consolidation across 30 sites. "This will allow us to use newer technologies like Windows 7 and Office 365, which we cannot do at the moment due to NT4 domains and 30 separate domains."

Why it's a favorite: "POQ gives me and my team peace of mind that people aren't lifting data from the browser. I like that it's easy to deploy and set up policies. My favorite features are that I can stop copying of data and print screen. We have a lot of people using BYOD, so being able to provide the same access and security on unmanaged devices is huge. POQ helped us with PCI compliance, as we use it for our credit card payment processing. It protects our data from malware on the endpoint as well as data leakage by malicious end users."

Years in IT: 15

Upcoming IT projects: Software as a service and hybrid cloud infrastructure

Why it's a favorite: "The Riverbed Steelhead product accelerates our applications through MPLS circuits to each location. New branches require less bandwidth. We were able to reduce the monthly circuit expenses by 35% while doubling our branch footprint. Steelheads are also used to decrease the time needed to replicate data to an offsite location."

Years in IT: 25

Upcoming IT projects: "My focus is now on security-related issues and developing strategies to address this fast-paced challenge."

Why it's a favorite: "There are a ton of features, all of which are included without having to purchase additional licenses. This makes it a super-flexible platform with great capabilities for Layers 1-7. Aside from that, it just works and is very stable so I don't worry much about it."

Years in IT: 14

Upcoming IT projects: New site launch. "One of the things I like most about my job is creating a plan then seeing it come to life."

Why it's a favorite: "I love Scrutinizer because it makes network visibility simple and fun. It has honestly put an end to the 'I don't know why your site is performing poorly' answer. Root cause analysis is quite simple when you can run a report showing the reason why a site with a T1 came to a crawl because some users decided to hit their favorite streaming media site or a system administrator accidentally kicked off a nightly backup in the middle of the day."

Years in IT: 13

Upcoming IT projects: Implementing Scrutinizer in a Cisco Medianet environment

Why it's a favorite: "It gives me visibility to the growing number of cloud services that my organization is using and helps me create a strategy utilizing the best and most secure services. Our firewall will allow us to block entire categories of services, but I needed more granular information about specific services as well as usage data to help me understand the needs of my customers and to help craft a smart policy."

Years in IT: 23

Upcoming IT projects: Implementing Citrix XenMobile mobile device management and cloud gateway

Why it's a favorite: "Nasuni allowed JSJ to deliver a truly global file storage solution to our business sites without compromising our security and data recovery standards. Because Nasuni places only a nominal load on our high-cost MPLS circuits by utilizing low-cost public circuits, the system is highly cost effective. The positive feedback and comments from our business users indicate that file access speeds rival the onsite storage solutions that pre-dated our move to centralized storage."

Years in IT: 30+

Upcoming IT projects: Product lifecycle management/product data management implementation

Why it's a favorite: "Spotfire is simply the best, most elegant data visualization environment that I've ever used. We have been able to consume huge amounts of diverse drug discovery and translational medicine data into this platform and quickly generate clear and informative views of those data. From a technologist perspective, Spotfire is one of the most beautifully architected pieces of software I know, and that architectural richness allows it to scale with fantastic performance and consistent user experience."

Years in IT: 16

Upcoming IT projects: Storage and analytic projects related to Array's next-generation DNA sequence efforts

Why it's a favorite: "It securely separates my work applications and data from my personal life. It means I'm always compliant with my employer's BYOD policies, and my personal life stays private and separate."

Years in IT: 15

Upcoming IT projects: Tangoe Enterprise Portal

Why it's a favorite: "SysAid ITSM has helped us respond faster, add content, assign cases, open, close and manage service desk requests from any mobile platform. This has allowed us to serve our customers better by responding in real time to customer requests from most any location. On top of that, the tool is free."

Years in IT: 20+

Upcoming IT projects: Dashboarding IT metrics, application uptime, network uptime, service levels and performance

Why it's a favorite: "A very simple function of WhatsUp Gold is interface performance monitoring. This feature enables me to quickly identify unused ports on a switch and determine if I need to add additional capacity in a given location, or just send a technician down to recover unused ports. The WhatsConnected and WhatsConfigured plugins enable me to determine what's been plugged into the interface and how the interface is configured, and alerts me when a change is made to my network."

Years in IT: 10+

Upcoming IT projects: Storage migration, server virtualization

Why it's a favorite: "In truth my absolute favorite is the UNH Mobile application developed by our own UNH Information Technology team. However, my favorite vendor product is Enterasys IdentiFi WiFi -- without it, the UNH mobile application would not be able to be used as effectively on campus! Mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets and more, increase each year, and the applications used on those devices devour bandwidth. We need reliable wireless solutions. We have been a long-term Enterasys customer, and with IdentiFi we have a wireless solution that can scale to meet the needs of tens of thousands of users."

Years in IT: 20+

Upcoming IT projects: Wi-Fi expansion

Why it's a favorite: "Dole Fresh Fruit Company was able to cut our operational costs through an improved approach to application performance management (APM) using Compuware's Data Center Real-User Monitoring. This greatly improved IT productivity in the following areas: reduced problem resolution from days and weeks to hours; decreased backlog of IT issues from several hundred to a manageable number; reduced the number of IT related incidents by 35%; and dramatically improved the performance of our ERP environment."

Years in IT: 20

Upcoming IT projects: Expanding Compuware APM use

Why it's a favorite: "Riverbed's Granite product has simplified our approach to managing data and hardware at our branch locations. The inherent benefits of the product include virtualization, WAN acceleration, replication and deduplication. These benefits have enabled us to shrink our hardware footprint, effectively manage and backup the branch data in our data center, improve our file access, and avoid an increase in bandwidth costs and ultimately better manage our data footprint. Granite is now our 'site in a box' solution and a blueprint for integrating newly acquired sites."

Years in IT: 20

Upcoming IT projects: Revamp data backup practices and enhance disaster recovery capabilities

Why it's a favorite: "[It's] easy to use, flexible, has just the right amount of complexity for our organization. We are a far-flung group of people, and Teambox helps us gain visibility into our work. Teambox has also proven to be effective at sharing, brainstorming and collaborating."

Years in IT: 18

Why it's a favorite: "SecureSurf is an easy-to-deploy hosted solution that doesn't inhibit Web surfing and safeguards users against malicious sites, viruses, inappropriate content or anything that might violate a company's policy. I like how I can install the agent on individual machines to ensure those machines are configured for the most accurate website traffic evaluation, even if a user is working remotely or through a non-corporate network. Plus, I appreciate the machine-by-machine reporting of Web surfing activities."

Years in IT: 22

Upcoming IT projects: Moving a large foreign currency bank into a co-location facility

Why it's a favorite: "Eze Software Group's RealTick's market data infrastructure is expansive, extending across hundreds of servers in multiple data centers around the world. In the past, due to the large volume of data being delivered, our clients needed large quantities of IP addresses to connect to the infrastructure. The Viprion hardware allows us to consolidate addresses and shrink this presence by more than 98%, while still allowing ample room for growth through its modular and powerful expansion capabilities in both hardware and software. This has greatly enhanced our security posture while still providing increased reliability for our customers."

Years in IT: 23

Upcoming IT projects: Data center migration and comprehensive infrastructure refresh

Why it's a favorite: "Spiceworks has helped me and saved my skin more times than I care to mention. The app is solid, works well and fits my needs. But the real value is the fact that they have the best online community in the entire universe. This coupled with all the amazing folks at Spiceworks (both support and outreach) means there is no equal. I love the high level of customization potential in the app, while at the same time being very easy to setup. This has allowed for a quick deployment at my company and flexibility as we grow and our needs change."

Years in IT: 3

Upcoming IT projects: Phone system upgrade; backup upgrade; VMware infrastructure expansion

Why it's a favorite: "A cornerstone of our SOA architecture, Forum Sentry helped Synovus reduce online banking sign-in time from averaging about 20 seconds to averaging less than 6 seconds -- significantly enhancing our users' experiences. Based on that success, Synovus then looked to extend the online banking experience to mobile users. With Forum Sentry centralizing access control and identity management, Synovus now supports more than 10,000 customers accessing their accounts through iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and WAP clients."

Years in IT: 13

Upcoming IT projects: Call center, Tibco ESB implementation, core banking consolidation, ATM replacement

Why it's a favorite: "The product allows Dime IT to offer a solid backup strategy to clients. And, when a disaster does happen, Acronis leaves us confident that we have the necessary options to restore customer data as effortlessly as possible."

Years in IT: 10

Upcoming IT projects: Moving to virtual environments in the SMB space. "Dime IT is finally seeing smaller clients take advantage of technology that previously was only available for the enterprise."

Why it's a favorite: "ClickSoftware is helping Ledcor to better optimize work order creation, scheduling and call center dispatching, and capture real-time status updates from the field. We use ClickSoftware to simplify operations, improve customer service and lower operational costs. Being able to respond to customer demands faster and more efficiently is a significant competitive differentiator."

Years in IT: 10

Upcoming IT projects: Enhanced mobile capabilities for field technicians and supervisors; analytics upgrades

Why it's a favorite: "OnApp's software is packaged nicely and is a great base to build cloud products on top of. We've tested and deployed many virtualization and storage systems as our services have evolved, and the one thing that was always lacking was an effective storage system. With the integrated SAN built into OnApp Cloud, we've finally found a way to achieve enterprise-class storage for our cloud, at a fraction of the cost of an enterprise SAN."

Years in IT: 12

Upcoming IT projects: Adding features to Ubiquity Motion control panel

Why it's a favorite: "eyeShare provides a rich, user-friendly and intuitive interface, is stable, and has reliable performance. Development in eyeShare allows us to automate IT processes quickly and easily. eyeShare provides the ability to view and manage critical alerts from a variety of systems in one centralized console. It also improves our system team’s SLA and reduces the time involved in writing complex scripts."

Years in IT: 17

Why it's a favorite: "Prior to using Lavastorm Analytics Engine, A/R and revenue were calculated/recorded to the ERP on a monthly basis and required complex reconciliations. Using LAE, Gogo has developed a Financial Systems Integration platform, which pulls in data from our product catalog, sales transaction systems, payment processors and banks. Gogo has also used LAE to integrate revenue assurance analytics up front, in the Financial Systems Integration platform, in order to build in preventative controls. This has resulted in the reduction of manual processes, a high level of repeatability and improved analytics, which allow for greater accuracy and completeness of the data."

Years in IT: 16

Upcoming IT projects: Financial Systems Integrations for the new Gogo International service