Seven companies are in the running for the top “Innovation” award from Red Hat (NYSE: RHT).

The winners in specific technology categories were disclosed Monday. The overall winner in the sixth annual program will be disclosed Thursday at the Red Hat Summit in Boston.

Category winners were selected by a panel including: Joe Brockmeier, editor/writer, ReadWriteWeb; Lee Congdon, CIO, Red Hat; Jim Kaskade, Stealth Startup CEO, PARC EIR, GigaOM analyst; Jay Lyman, senior analyst, Enterprise Software, 451 Research; Scott Merrill, contributor, TechCrunch; and Craig Muzilla, vice president and general manager, Middleware, Red Hat.

The 2012 Red Hat Innovation Awards winners, with information provided by Red Hat, the world’s top developer and seller of Linux-related services:

Optimized Systems

  • UNE EPM Telecommunications – UNE EPM Telecommunications is Colombia’s leading provider of IT and communication services. High-quality services based on cutting-edge technology has given UNE a competitive advantage in the Latin American market, helping create a customer base of more than 5 million. During the past three years, UNE standardized on Red Hat solutions. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Director Server’s reliability and high-availability has provided UNE with a comprehensive platform for its entire IT infrastructure, that has helped UNE reduce recovery time by 95 percent and lower operational costs by 50 percent, as well as lay the foundation for the company to provide relevant, innovative technologies to its customers base.

Next Generation Business Application

  • Toll Global Logistics — Toll Global Logistics is a division of the Toll Group, one of Asia’s leading providers of integrated logistics, operating an extensive network of more than 1,200 sites in 55 countries with 45,000 employees. In order to address critical issues within its core transport tracking system, Toll Global Logistics sought an innovative solution that could provide real-time, effective interpretation of vendor data feeds against its internal transport system. By developing a middleware architecture based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise MRG, JBoss Enterprise Application Platform and JBoss BRMS, Toll Global Logistics transformed its operations, and, for the first time, enabled its users to visually track packages across multiple modes of transport.

Outstanding Open Source Architecture

  • State Street Corporation — State Street is a leading financial services provider with operations in 29 countries that serves some of the world’s most sophisticated institutions, offering a flexible suite of services that span the investment spectrum, including investment management, research and trading and investment servicing. State Street embarked on a transformation initiative to accelerate new IT application development and business innovation with an enterprise-wide Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) framework built on Red Hat solutions in its private cloud environment. State Street’s PaaS unifies industry-leading advancements in technology to achieve the company’s strategic objectives, including faster time-to-market, strengthened security and improved overall IT operations.

Superior Alternatives

  • Sprint Nextel — Sprint Nextel is a publicly traded Fortune 100 telecommunications company with more than 40,000 employees and more than 56 million subscribers. Tired of paying exorbitant licensing and maintenance fees for proprietary middleware, Sprint Nextel deployed JBoss Enterprise Application Platform and, at the same time, significantly cut costs while delivering enhanced flexibility and agility to the company’s mission-critical business applications. With millions of dollars in cost savings from Red Hat solutions, Sprint Nextel can fund more IT projects to spur business-driven functionality, growth and innovation. Sprint Nextel’s key successes also include improved developer productivity, reduced time-to-market for key Sprint products, and improved automation of crucial business processes.

Extensive Partner Ecosystem

  • Appcelerator — A private company with approximately 140 employees, Appcelerator worked closely with Red Hat on their flagship platform, Titanium. One of the leading enterprise-grade, cross-platform development solutions on the market, Titanium counts more than 300,000 mobile developers in its worldwide ecosystem. Appcelerator integrated Red Hat’s OpenShiftTM PaaS into its Titanium platform, enabling developers to push and auto-scale the backend of their mobile development processes. This integration gives Titanium developers the ability to create, deploy and manage their mobile applications, and then push these applications to Red Hat’s OpenShift PaaS with just a single click.

Best Middleware Implementation

  • Allianz Group — Together with its customers and sales partners, Allianz is one of the strongest financial communities. Over 75 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz’s knowledge, global reach, capital strength and solidity to help them make the most of financial opportunities and to avoid and safeguard themselves against risks. In 2011, around 142,000 employees in some 70 countries achieved total revenue of 103.6 billion euros and an operating profit of 7.9 billion euros. The solutions provided by Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss Enterprise Middleware played an important role in re-architecting Allianz’s IT environment to a private cloud. Allianz also highly values Red Hat’s Consulting and Support Services, which provides the company with an efficient and smooth usage of its Red Hat platforms.

Best Storage Implementation

  • Cornell University Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies – Founded in 1865, Cornell University is the largest university in the Ivy League with more than 20,000 students from around the world. Located in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes region, Cornell has more than 100 interdisciplinary research organizations and three national research centers that serve broad scientific communities and reflect the strong partnership between academia, government and industry. Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing (CAC) conducts research on current and emerging technologies to enhance the capabilities of high-performance computing. Cornell’s Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies turned to the technical staff at CAC to identify and deploy a storage solution for its department to help manage data-intensive research technologies such as DNA sequencing, proteomics and imaging. Red Hat Storage’s flexibility and reliability, coupled with Red Hat’s community-driven approach to innovation has enabled the Institute to achieve the growth needed to continue its critical research programs.