Big Winners, Surprises In Channel Champs

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A few weeks ago, we unveiled the winners of this year's CRN Channel Champions Awards at our XChange Solution Provider conference in Los Angeles. In the coming weeks, we will disclose the scores of all the participants to provide VARs and the industry with a detailed look at which vendors are rated highest in partner satisfaction and which ones fell short. But for this column, let's focus on the winners, who all showed up to our awards banquet dressed in their finest attire and on their best behavior to accept trophies in front of nearly 1,000 solution providers and vendor executives.

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What do the awards and topline scores reveal about the state of the industry today? Well, for one, they do shed light on HP's efforts to increase sales by offering incentives to partners to attach more HP-branded products to every sale. VARs are certainly leery of putting too many eggs in the HP basket, but their satisfaction with HP's program, support infrastructure and financial results on the line indicate HP partners are a very happy bunch of individuals.

HP dominated this year, recording the highest satisfaction scores for its volume servers and notebook line and also for a host of products that surround the hardware, including its network storage products and storage management software. The company's ProCurve networking line was also tops in satisfaction, as was its systems- and network-management software.

IBM regained some momentum with wins in the data and information management category, besting Microsoft and posting the highest satisfaction scores for middleware and midrange servers.

VARs seemed to be favoring big vendors this year, with Microsoft taking home top honors in collaboration software and Cisco capturing wins for enterprise-networking hardware, wireless LANs and VoIP. Xerox, Intel, Seagate, Oracle and APC won their respective categories, adding validity to the argument that the large vendors are performing well when it comes to the unmanaged channel, which is what Channel Champions really gauges. Traditionally, the big boys have focused on just the big VARs or their authorized partners, but high satisfaction scores in Channel Champions indicate smaller VARs and those reliant on two-tier distribution are more comfortable with these players than they have been in a long time.

So, were there any surprises? Well, Samsung's win in the display category was especially sweet, as was SonicWall's win in the SMB wireless LAN category, where it went head-to-head against Cisco. Two other companies posted outstanding results: Trend Micro won the incredibly competitive client security software category and also posted an unexpected win in network security software . The other surprise victor was Sage Software, which took home top honors in the SMB business software suites category. I am no sage but I have to believe some of these companies are among your favorites.

Let me know who's doing a good job. Everything Channel SVP/Editorial Director Robert C. DeMarzo is at

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