The convergence of networking and the data center is creating battlegrounds for vendors old and new. As VARs seek to capitalize, all eyes will be on who can maintain channel strength even as the battle lines around Network Infrastructure are redrawn, especially at the midmarket and enterprise levels. There's strength in breadth and size, though, and that's part of the reason why Cisco, for the third year in a row, took top honors in the category for the 2009 ARC. Thanks to Cisco's ongoing efforts to establish itself as a data center and infrastructure power, the networking titan shows no signs of slowing down.
"In tough times a lot of companies have cut back on what they can offer the channel, and we haven't seen that in Cisco," said Bill Smeltzer, executive vice president and CTO at Focus Technology Solutions, a Seabrook, N.H.-based infrastructure solution provider. "We've had no major problems with the channel relationship."
Cisco's victory in Network Infrastructure was not as decisive as its triumphs in other ARC categories, such as Wireless Infrastructure and Unified Communications/VoIP. In several criteria, Juniper had higher scores, especially in channel relationships, where it beat Cisco across the board, with the exception of solution provider program and communication.
Juniper also bested Cisco in quality and reliability of products (100.4 to Cisco's 98.2) and came within less than 1 percentage point in several others. Should Cisco be watching its back? Maybe, maybe not, said VARs.