DSA Awards 2021 Winners Announced: Upsets and Surprising Highlights of This Year’s Awards

The votes have been cast. They have been tallied. And now the results are in.

After nearly a month of voting, which began a week or so before Christmas and concluded on Friday, the 7th of January 2022, the best of the best, as voted by you, our dear readers, have finally been determined.

Without further ado, here are your DSA Awards 2021 winners:

Best Enterprise Storage Vendor

The Best Enterprise Storage Vendor is arguably the most coveted honour in the annual DSA Awards, and Dell Technologies has won it every year since 2016. The tech monolith, unsurprisingly, was the heavy favourite to win this award for a sixth straight year—until NetApp pulled off the biggest surprise of this year’s DSA Awards. In a massive upset, NetApp beat out Dell, which slid to third behind second-place IBM.

Surprising as it seems, NetApp has always been one of the biggest and long-standing names in the enterprise storage industry, leading the way with its next-generation ONTAP data management software that aims to deliver simplicity and common data services across increasingly complex on-premises and multi-cloud environments.
Best Data Analytics at Scale Vendor

The race for Best Data Analytics at Scale Vendor was one of the closest we had, with Neo4j and Amazon Web Services (AWS) neck-and-neck throughout the duration of the competition. In the end, Neo4j nosed out AWS by a hair and, in the process, stamped its class as one of the major players in the data analytics sphere. Rounding out the top three in this category was IBM.

Neo4j’s win, a mini-upset in a way, should not come as a shock. Back in March 2021, Gartner identified graph technology as one of the top data analytics trends of 2021, relating everything and forming “the foundation of modern data and analytics with capabilities to enhance and improve user collaboration, machine-learning models and explainable AI.” The prediction proved prescient, with this data innovation entering the mainstream in 2021—with Neo4j among those ushering in the graph revolution. 
Best Business Continuity Vendor

Equally close was the race for Best Business Continuity Vendor, which we introduced in the 2020 DSA Awards as a replacement for the Best Data Protection/Disaster Recovery Vendor Award. The reasoning behind it was, tech vendors needed to ensure availability despite the disruptions brought about by the pandemic. Two years into this global health crisis and the need for business continuity remains a priority—and something that vendors should ensure.

VMWare won this award last year, and it looked poised for back-to-back wins. It was, however, edged out by IBM—likely on the strength of its Business Continuity Management (BCM) system, which is aligned with “generally accepted industry guidelines and standards,” and reinforced by a range of business continuity and resiliency services and products. These include Backup-as-a-Service (BUaaS), Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS), cyber resilience service and IT Resilience Orchestration (ITRO). Third behind IBM and VMware was Cohesity.
Best Hyperscale Cloud Provider

The most one-sided category for DSA Awards 2021 was that of Best Hyperscale Cloud Provider. Just like previous years, this category was, unsurprisingly, dominated by the Big Three of AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, with AWS winning by landslide.

This dominant win doesn’t necessarily mean AWS is head and shoulders better than Google Cloud and Azure because all three are arguably the best in the cloud, each with its own strengths as well as shortcomings. Rather, this win is likely a testament to the still unequalled breadth and depth of AWS’s services—over 175 already and spanning across compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, mobile, IoT and security – which appeal to enterprise customers. It certainly helps, too, that AWS has been a market leader for the longest time now, in part because it was the first to offer cloud computing back in 2006.
Best Zero-Trust Security Vendor

This is a new category that is slightly different from our “usual,” Best Security Vendor category. With the pandemic normalising remote work, the security needs of businesses have evolved to expand the security perimeter all the way to endpoint devices, which are particularly vulnerable to getting breached.  The “trust nothing, verify everything,” approach of zero-trust helps remediate this risk and is a natural evolution of password-based authentication and authorisation, and looks to be a dominant approach to security going forward.

In yet another close race, Palo Alto Networks beat out BlackBerry for Best Zero-Trust Security Vendor, underpinning the former’s reputation of providing trusted security services. Its Zero-Trust Enterprise, in particular, is a leader in this space, simplifying an organisation’s entire security infrastructure while using a range  of technologies and expanding protection to cover the full ecosystem of controls, including network, endpoint, cloud, application, IoT, identity and more.

Completing the winners’ circle in this category is Microsoft.
Best Digital Collaboration Software

The Best Digital Collaboration Software category was included because, in a world that stopped dead on its tracks by the pandemic, digital collaboration platforms helped people everywhere get things done, whether at work, for education, or for healthcare. Don’t be surprised if this category becomes a fixture in succeeding DSA Awards as it is very likely that digital collaboration will be just as important to the post-pandemic world as it is now.

Getting the most votes to win this award is Microsoft 365, followed by Zoom and Slack. This should come as no surprise given how the winner is incredibly diverse and is essentially an all-in-one platform, combining different products that cater to the different requirements of collaboration. Among these products are Teams for digital meetings, OneDrive for data management, SharePoint for managing different tools and apps, Office 365 for real-time document co-authoring and collaboration and Yammer for internal social media. 

Data and Storage Evangelist of the Year              

As for our individual category, NetApp’s Matthew Hurford was voted the Data and Storage Evangelist of the Year by our readers. This award, new for this year, is meant to give well-deserved recognition to the most notable, influential and impactful proponent of data and storage over the past year.

Hurford, NetApp’s Vice President of Solutions Engineering and Field CTO for Asia Pacific and a self-professed “data champion,” got the nod, likely due to his tireless efforts in sharing with business leaders how data analytics brings value to organisations and his work in driving NetApp to greater heights this year, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.

The newly minted Data and Storage Evangelist of the Year beat out equally prominent names, including Akhil Kamat, the Ecosystem Builder for Cloud & Cognitive AI Systems at IBM Asia Pacific; Rachel Ler, the Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific Region at Commvault, and Ravi Rajendran, the Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan at Cohesity.
Another year, another successful DSA Awards in the books—and we owe it all to you, our dear readers.

On that note, we, the DSA staff and the Asia Online Publishing Group would like to thank you all for partaking in this annual event and making it a much-anticipated showcase for the biggest brands in tech.

And to the winners and everybody else, we say congratulations! Keep up the great work!

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