The companies and individuals who have made the greatest contributions to the UK IT sector were honoured on Tuesday evening at the CNET Networks UK Technology Awards.
Firms such as Red Hat, Nortel Networks, BlackSpider Technologies, Connected Corporation and Parkmobile UK all walked away from the black tie gala dinner having impressed the judges with their latest products and clutching one of the night's coveted awards.
Linux distributor Red Hat won the 'enterprise product of the year' category, for Red Hat Desktop. Red Hat Desktop is primarily targeted at large companies, and includes a range of applications including the OpenOffice.org suite and the Mozilla browser.
"Red Hat has created a viable, mature desktop operating system choice, proving Linux is about more than servers and a tool for non-technical end users," said the judging panel.
Earlier in the day, the ZDNet IT Priorities conference heard that Linux on the desktop could be cheaper and more secure than alternative platforms such as Microsoft Windows. Red Hat's success underlines the growing influence of the open source sector.
The winner of the 'mobile product or initiative of the year' award was Parkmobile UK. It has created a "practical, everyday application", according to the judges, that allows car drivers to pay their parking charges via their mobile, using a range of wireless technologies including GPRS and RFID.
This type of cashless, ticketless m-commerce is generating plenty of excitement in the mobile scene, where manufacturers and network operators are keen to turn handsets into e-wallets.
In the 'telecoms product or service of the year' category, Nortel Networks came out on top with its Multimedia Communication Server. This helps companies to add more advanced IP functionality to their existing networks. It supports SIP, which is necessary for Internet Telephony, and also supports multimedia and collaboration applications.
"Nortel Networks has revolutionised remote working by bringing all communications channels together in a centrally-managed product with the MCS -- the Multimedia Communications Server," the judging panel ruled.
BlackSpider MailControl won the title of 'security product of the year'. This is an outsourced service for small companies with fewer than 50 users, and claims to provide "demonstrably higher levels of protection against viruses and spam".
"BlackSpider Technologies have taken the security battle to the network, to ISPs and beyond, with BlackSpider Mailcontrol. Their entry was backed up by solid testimony from sophisticated users which impressed the judges," the judging panel explained.
As security expert Martin Smith told the IT Priorities conference, many companies are failing to cope with the threat of malicious code and are also being bombarded with more and more junk mail. Outsourcing the responsibility for dealing with these issues can make sense for many firms, especially those with limited in-house security expertise.
In the storage section, Connected Corporation triumphed with its Connected ArchiveStore/EM service. This email archiving product encrypts each message and gives it its own digital signature, which prevents tampering and allows a company to prove that its data is legitimate.
"Connected Corporation’s ArchiveStore has delivered on the need for a crystal clear audit trail, which is especially important in these post-Enron days of compliance, with an archive system for emails and more," the judges said.
Five other prizes were awarded. David Lester of the London Stock Market won 'CIO of the year', CapGemini won 'integrator/outsourcer of the year', VMware Virtual Centre won 'most promising technology of the year', Brands2Life won 'PR campaign of the year' and Worth won 'marketing campaign of the year'.
And the work that Sir Tim Berners-Lee has done over the years to create and support the World Wide Web was recognised with the award of 'outstanding contribution to UK technology" Sir Berners-Lee, who is now based at MIT in Boston, addressed the audience via video to thank CNet for his award - and pointed out that the Web technology for which he was being honoured had a very bright future. He singled out future developments in increased mobility and the ability to surf simply using one's voice as areas in which the Web will evolve.