Outside the Imperial Hotel in Vienna, an Austrian police escort lined the sidewalks waiting for a foreign dignitary to be whisked away by car. Inside, just past the lobby, finalists for the 2011 Mission-Critical Innovation Awards, presented by HP and Intel, enjoyed Austrian wine and appetizers while listening to a string quartet. While the police were busy protecting against a world changing event, the technologists inside were being recognized for attempting to change the technology world.

As food and drink continued to flow in the room, Martin Fink, Hewlett-Packard SVP and GM of Business Critical Systems, presided over the presentation of awards. Companies were recognized in the four categories of Mission Critical Data, Converged Data Centre, Humanitarian/Environmental Impact, and Best New Application.

Mission-Critical Data was the first award category presented, recognizing database, data warehousing, or line-of-business solutions that takes advantage Itanium-based platforms. The finalists included CMC Limited, Flughafen Wien, and Gravic. CMC Limited was nominated for development of BOLT, a new online trading infrastructure for the Bombay Stock Exchange. Flughafen Wien, the airport operator for the Vienna International Airport, developed a new infrastructure around SAP and database application performance for 24×7 system availability. Gravic, the category winner, provided a major overhaul of the data center architecture for a major Canadian bank.

Gravic - Winner Mission-Critical Data

Converged Data Centre was next up in the awards recognizing efforts at modernizing mission-critical computing environments with Itanium-based systems, Xeon-based servers, or utilizing blade servers for mission-critical computing. Finalists for the Converged Data Centre category included Steelcase, RI-Solution, and PinkRoccade Healthcare. Steelcase was a finalist for utilizing Converged Infrastructure to boost performance to applications, optimize utilization of resources, and reduce the number of Oracle licenses required for applications. RI-Solutions received a nomination for overhauling one of the most complex SAP/DB2 installations in the world at BayWa Group. Category winner PinkRoccade Healthcare uses HP Converged Infrastructure to provide application hosting out of its data center that allows it to handle end-to-end solutions for hospitals, HMOs, clinics, and other healthcare service providers in the Netherlands.

Pink Roccade Healthcare

Humanitarian / Environmental Impact looked at organizations using Itanium-based systems to make a positive impact on society or the environment. Category finalists included Enagas, Purvis Systems, and University Hospitals. Enagas, Spain’s gas management company, was recognized for its Green Datacenter project. Purvis Systems was recognized for migrating the Fire Department of New York City’s computer assisted emergency dispatch to a newer Itanium-based server infrastructure and OpenVMS. Cleveland-based University Hospitals was the winner in this category with an online storage and disaster recovery site of redundant systems to eliminate downtime and improve patient care in the radiology department.

University Hospitals

Best New Application recognized new applications that use Itanium-based systems to fulfill industry needs. Finalist in the Best New Application category included EnterpriseDB, Lusis, and Secure64. EnterpriseDB, which I featured in a video, was recognized for providing an enterprise alternative database solution using Itanium and HP-UX, while also offering a migration path from Oracle to PostgreSQL. Lusis delivered a solution to replace BASE24 Classic for BankservAfrica of South Africa. Category winner Secure64 was selected as the winner in this category for providing a DNS caching solution with a high level of security, availability, and performance.

Secure64

One of the things I found most interesting about this award program was the opportunity to hear about the projects being recognized. When a company has a problem, its dirty laundry is frequently aired in the news, but we virtually never hear about the successes they have in solving challenging IT problems. While the projects featured in the Mission-Critical Innovation Awards all focused around the fact that Itanium-based servers were at the core of the project, there’s a certain amount of inspiration that comes from knowing companies are solving real problems, rather than hearing from the hardware manufacturers about hypothetical use cases.