A shout-out to those who came close and a 'watch out' to the winners
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They are the unsung heroes of the Channel Champion competition--vendors that while they did not earn cumulative scores high enough to walk away with a top Channel Champion award in their respective product segment--nevertheless distinguished themselves with top scores in all-important categories such as product margins, spifs and rebates to capture a spot on our cherished CRN Channel Champion Honor Roll.
Here is a look at 10 notable Channel Champion Honor Roll recipients. The full Honor Roll list features top scores across the entire study--minus, of course--the overall winners.
Category: Power Protection & Management
Tripp Lite bested perennial Channel Champion APC in the financial factors subcategory with wins in both the competitive pricing category with a score of 88.0 compared to APC's 86.5, and in the key product margins, spifs and rebates category with a score of 72.6 compared to APC's 68.7.
Look for Tripp Lite to continue to keep the heat on APC in 2010 with a robust new line of protection and cooling solutions.
Category: Power Protection & Management
Eaton, which has skyrocketed onto the channel charts with a robust channel offering, also distinguished itself in the power protection and management category. In fact, there may be no other vendor in the competition that has come on as strong in the past several years, grabbing solution provider purchasing power in one of the most bitterly contested segments.
Eaton bested Channel Champion APC in the critical presales support category (75.8 to 75.7) and also the management and configuration category (80.5 to 80.4).
Eaton, which is making a host of channel program improvements, will be a challenger for the top award in 2011.
Category: Storage Management Software
Symantec finished just behind overall winner EMC in product quality, competitive pricing and presales support. But there are few vendors that have made as many dramatic channel improvements as Symantec over the past year.
Symantec has upped the storage product ante with the release this year of Backup Exec 2010 and NetBackup 7, both of which provide robust deduplication capabilites. Not only that, Symantec recently released a road map for partners to take the lead on consulting services. That is sure to lead to big increases in services sales for Symantec partners. Watch out, EMC.
Category: Flat-Panel Displays
There are few companies that have won as many channel awards as Samsung. Samsung has taken home top display honors in CRN Channel Champions 2008 and 2009 and has won the Annual Report Card for displays an amazing seven years in a row.
Although channel stalwart HP narrowly edged out Samsung for the top spot in this year's Channel Champion competition with HP scoring 74.6 to Samsung's 73.4, Samsung bested HP in the price/performance category (86.1 to 84.5), technical image quality (93.7 to 93.0) and tied HP for technical ergonomics. Look for Samsung to come roaring back to challenge HP.
Category: SMB Network Storage
D-Link, which has made an aggressive channel push in the past year, bested overall SMB Network Storage Channel Champion HP in the SMB Network Storage competitive pricing satisfaction category (80.4 to 80.2). In addition, D-Link was the runner-up in all three subcategories (technical satisfaction, support satisfaction and financial factors). Another sign that D-Link is turning solution provider heads: The vendor scored well in expected sales growth, not surprising given the aggressive channel changes under D-Link North American President Nick Tidd.
Category: Network Security Software
Websense, which has made a host of improvements this year including a new simplified margin structure that touts 25 percent margins across all partner tiers, bested Network Security Software Channel Champion Trend Micro in expected sales growth (71.1 to 70.5).
Websense also topped Trend Micro in evaluation/demo equipment policies (73.5 to 71.4) and post-sales support (75.0 to 74.2). What's more, Websense tied Trend Micro in the services category, which ranks dollar of revenue for services for every product dollar sold or recommended, and education and enablement.
With channel changes like increased margins for deal registration and renewal migration look for Websense, which took home several Channel Champion honors in 2008, to aggressively challenge Trend Micro for the Channel Champion award next year.
Category: Network Security Appliances
SonicWall CEO Matt Medeiros has always been a big supporter of the channel. So it's no surprise to consistently see SonicWall in the hunt for top Channel Champion honors.
This year, Juniper Networks bested SonicWall in Network Security Appliances. But SonicWall topped Juniper in the product management and configuration category (83.8 to 83.7). Not only that, SonicWall finished just behind Juniper in price/performance and competitive pricing. Medeiros says he's planning for an even better 2010.
Category: Multifunction Printers
Lexmark is a perennial contender in the Channel Champion multifunction printer category. But its 2010 performance was especially impressive, scoring 73.4 in a photo finish with Channel Champion Xerox, which scored 73.6.
Lexmark walked away with the financial factors subcategory award with wins in the critical competitive pricing (82.6 to 74.1), product margins, spifs and rebates (72.1 to 69.7), and business expected sales (66.8 to 64.5).
Not only that, Lexmark bested Xerox in evaluation/demo equipment policies (67.4 to 67.0) and serviceability (79.4 to 77.6).
Category: Data & Information Management
Oracle topped Data & Information Management Channel Champion Microsoft in a number of categories not only with its own database product, but the Sun MySQL product that it picked up with its blockbuster $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun.
With its own database offering, Oracle, which is renowned for its high-end database prowess, topped Microsoft in both scalability (82.8 to 81.5) and product quality and reliability (88.4 to 88.0). Oracle's Sun MySQL product bested Microsoft in competitive pricing (81.5 to 77.1), price/performance (80.8 to 79.9), as well as evaluation and demo equipment policies (70.8 to 69.1).
Look for Oracle to press hard to dethrone Microsoft in 2011.
Category: SATA Hard Drives
Western Digital, a past SMB External Storage Channel Champion, bested SATA Hard Drive Channel Champion Seagate in the financial factors subcategory with an impressive 77.0 score compared to Seagate's 76.2.
That's not all. Check out these numbers: Western Digital also bested Seagate in price/performance (91.2 to 90.3), competitive pricing (91.3 to 87.6), product margins, spifs and rebates (76.8 to 76.6), services attached (69.4 to 69.2) and presales support (70.2 to 70.1).
Look for Western Digital, which recently released the next generation of its 10,000-rpm SATA family, to attempt to regain its onetime Channel Champion storage crown in 2011.