eWEEK Labs names the products that stood out in 2009, focusing on the ones that either provide significant innovation or make day-to-day life easier for IT professionals
AWS Toolkit for Eclipse
Amazon was defining the “cloud” before the term even existed, and it built its Amazon Web Services as a natural spinoff of its own infrastructure.
During the past several years, Amazon has continued to refine its services, but programming for AWS hasn’t been easy – until the release of AWS Toolkit for Eclipse, that is.
Although AWS Toolkit is technically an Eclipse plug-in, it’s much more than that. It’s an entire development toolkit that greatly simplifies the creation of applications and the deployment of servers on the AWS cloud. Using AWS Toolkit, developers can create applications, test them locally and deploy them to the cloud – all from within Eclipse.
The toolkit currently supports Java and the Tomcat server running on AWS, although Amazon officials have said that they have plans to add other languages and server platforms. The toolkit leverages the Eclipse Data Tools project, allowing developers to design AWS SimpleDB data graphically.
But the toolkit goes beyond just coding and into management. In Amazon Web Services, you manage your servers within the EC2 infrastructure. The AWS Toolkit for Eclipse includes several panes and windows that let you perform such management from within Eclipse. And, to top it all off, AWS Toolkit for
Eclipse is fully open source, meaning it’s available for free and is open for contribution at sourceforge.net.
Surprising. Innovative. Unexpectedly good.
In recent years, these words haven’t typically been used to describe products from Microsoft. So, many people were surprised when Microsoft in June unleashed Bing, a new web search engine that wasn’t just a minor cosmetic change to the existing MSN search. Rather, Bing was an intriguing competitor to Google, with an attractive and interactive search interface that stood in stark contrast to Google’s old-school web look.
It seems like many people on the web have noticed. In just a few months, the new Bing search engine has gained 10 percent of the search market. This is still well short of Google’s share, but it is impressive given the short time Bing has been in existence.
And even if Bing never surpasses Google in market share, everyone benefits from increased competition in web search. Let’s face it: In recent years, Google has been paying more attention to browsers, operating systems and hosted apps than it has to its bread-and-butter search. If the competition that Bing brings forces all search engine vendors to offer more and more effective ways to search the web, then everyone wins.
BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0
Last May, Research In Motion made a significant and welcome update to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Version 5.0 introduced a number of enhancements to RIM’s flagship mobile management solution, delivering improved manageability and reliability commensurate with the ever-increasing importance of mobility and compliance in the enterprise.
While some organisations may be moving to a “bring your own mobile device” model centered on ActiveSync, most others beholden to regulatory- or performance-based strictures need to assure levels of data and device security, policy control, and performance not possible in a more permissive mobile environment. Within that realm of control and delivery assurance, BlackBerry remains king, and, to the companies that need that assurance, BES 5.0 delivers much-sought-after gains.
For example, because the product now offers web-based administration via the new BlackBerry Administration Service, admins can manage BES 5.0 for Exchange from any PC with a browser (as long as that browser is Internet Explorer). This allows admins to take advantage of other new features – including improved status reporting over devices, as well as policy and application delivery – without being tied to one workstation.
BES 5.0’s role-based administration, meanwhile, allows more effective delegation of administration tasks among IT workers, providing admins with access and visibility to users, groups and policies depending on their function and role.
BES 5.0 also natively delivers built-in high availability for the first time. Mobile administrators can pool an active server and a backup, using the same license for the pair, to add resiliency to the BlackBerry management infrastructure. Administrators also can leverage the cluster to maintain uptime during the upgrade cycle or to share the load of certain BES components between the pair.