A sailing charity that invested in SaaS to reduce costs and improve operations was the winner in Techworld's project of the year. UKSA beat runner-up Private Mobile Networks in a contest that reflected a diverse range of IT projects. They were among the winners announced last night at the Techworld Awards ceremony in central London.

The Techworld Awards, now in their sixth year, celebrate all that is best about the IT industry and highlight the range of innovation out there.. As has always been the case, there have been plenty of high quality entries, assuaging fears that the economic slowdown may have hindered product development - the sheer inventiveness of some of the products.

There were fewer project entries than there had been in previous years, perhaps a reflection of the fact that IT managers were totally immersed in keeping their systems up and running this year. It's been a year where personnel have made the most of the resources that they had.

That was certainly the case with the UKSA award, which looked to cloud computing future. The charity had been a long-standing Salesforce CRM customer and was looking to extend the relationship further. In a radical departure, the organisation was looking to run all of its business processes in the cloud not only to introduce business efficiencies but to reduce costs and keep staffing costs low. Given that UKSA is a charity, there was a strong imperative to reduce staff, as UKSA said "We want our people raising money, not maintaining IT.

The main effect of the move to cloud computing has been the reduction in licensing costs and the use of a more scalable charging model, meaning that the organisation can budget more effectively.

The runner-up, PMN, ran a very different project, one of technical complexity that produced a "GSM network in a box", offering speedy and portable communications for a variety of needs.

But while the turnout was low for the project awards, there were plenty of product awards as compensation. As might be expected, certain categories were particularly well popular - we were deluged with entries for security product of the year reflecting the huge amount of interest in the topic. The judges eventually settled on BeCrypt's Trusted Client as the winner. Another highly contested category was the virtualisation product of the year, won by VirtenSys V10 4000 Series 10 Virtualisation Switches.

The most fiercely debated category was for the mobility/wireless product: the judges got into a lengthy argument over this before the highly inventive Meraki MR14 prevailed. The judges were pleased that Jed Lau from Meraki had flown over in person to pick up the award- even though it was on Thanksgiving Day.

Some of the big name winners included Dell's EqualLogic PS6000 winning the storage product of the year and eVault Plug n Protect from Seagate's i365 winning archiving/back-up product of the year.

There were gongs for previous winners too: Uptime - with version 5 of the its software - snaffled the network management award again while Zeus Traffic Manager 5.1 was the winner of the infrastructure product of the year award.

The winners' roll is completed by A-Server's Datacenter-as-a-service for the cloud/SaaS product; Sentilla Energy Manager which won green product and the desktop software product of the year, Appsense Environment Manager 8.0.

Maxwell Cooter, chairman of the Techworld Awards judges' panel said that there was an exceptionally high quality of entrants. "It's always a good sign when the judges are prepared to go out to bat for their own particular favourites and it's always good when we have plenty of debate about some of the prizes. It shows that there are a good many first-class products out there and we think that our list of winners reflects this excellence."

There will be a full round-up on the awards next week, including video interviews with all the winners and some explanations from the judges as to why the winners triumphed.