VMware almost had a clean sweep of the survey, with its solution providers rating it higher in every attribute except one, Presales Support, where rival Microsoft beat VMware soundly.
VMware outscored rivals Microsoft and Novell in Product Innovation and Partnership and garnered a high enough score in the Support category to notch the overall win.
(Editor's Note: Citrix, one of the top vendors of server virtualization software, declined to take part in this year's survey.)
One solution provider who requested anonymity but works with server virtualization software from VMware, Citrix and Microsoft said VMware's solid position at the top of the ARC survey comes from its constant innovation.
"VMware innovates at such a rapid pace and has such a rich feature set that solution providers have a lot to work with when developing customer solutions," the solution provider said. "Other products do not provide that capability at VMware's level."
Doug Smith, VMware's senior director of global partner strategy and operations, said the results of the ARC survey stem from 10 years of development that have resulted in a mature offering to the channel. "That's reflected in what the VARs are seeing," Smith said. "It's that commitment and investment we've been making year after year."
Smith said VMware is already making changes that will improve its score in the one criterion in which it lost to Microsoft.
The company is building a new Partner Support Center that will enable solution providers to e-mail, chat and talk with VMware reps for help on quotes and to get training, Smith said.
VMware in August also updated its VMware Purchase Program with new tools to streamline its volume licensing program.
"Now it's much easier to quote and configure our software," he said. "But we haven't declared victory. Our biggest partners are telling us our licensing program still needs work."