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Everyone can name the market leaders in different technology segments. Hewlett-Packard has overtaken Dell in PCs and is the undisputed market-share leader in printers. Microsoft holds the title for operating systems. Symantec stands at the top of the hill for antivirus software. Cisco Systems is king in data and voice networking. And EMC ranks ahead of all others in storage hardware.
Alternative vendors are basically everyone else. An alternative vendor is a nonmarket-leading vendor (by share), an innovator and start-up/entrepreneur. Alternatives are characteristically more nimble than their larger counterparts, bringing solution providers innovative technologies and channel programs that pay higher dividends. Alternatives, however, typically don't have the brand presence, market reach or capacity to threaten market-leading vendors in most short-term measures.
Some will claim that you always want to go with a market leader, but many solution providers are finding success with alternative brands and technologies. Alternatives provide them with products--hardware and software--that complement the technologies offered by market-share leaders. And, in many cases, alternatives give solution providers products that offer higher margins and better sales opportunities.
VARBusiness, in its second annual Alternatives Study, delved deeper into commoditized and leading channel technologies to see how solution providers perceive alternative vendors. Specifically, we excluded the vendors we felt were the leaders in both market share and channel programs. We then asked solution providers which vendors they consider alternatives in 10 key technologies: data networking, servers, wireless networking, security software, security hardware, storage, voice networking, laptops, displays and printers. The result is this special report on the 100 alternative vendors that solution providers need to know.
NEXT: Macro trends.