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ARC 2011: Midrange (High-End) Servers

Dell took home the award for best Midrange (High-End) Servers for the second consecutive year in CRN's Annual Report Card survey, thanks to a dominant performance in the criteria for which it was once reviled by VARs--partnership.

WINNER: Dell

Dell finished ahead of IBM and Hewlett-Packard in six of seven criteria under partnership, including solution provider programs, communications, managing channel conflict, revenue and profit potential, return on investment and ease of doing business.

The Round Rock, Texas-based vendor finished behind IBM in the product innovation and support subcategories, but was close enough to finish first overall, thanks to its very strong partnership scores.

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Paul Shaffer, worldwide channel marketing director at Dell, said the vendor has worked hard for its top scores from VARs.

"If you look back at the last four years, everything we did was focused on a lot of these areas. Look at deal registration, compensation neutrality. Our whole intent is to have our segment sales teams want to work with channel partners, managing channel conflict," Shaffer said.

Michael Butz, president and CEO of UltraLevel, a Detroit-based solution provider, is not surprised that Dell won the category or scored so well in the partnership subcategory.

"The relationship really has been the most productive for our bottom line of any manufacturer we've been involved with since our inception in 2001," said Butz, who became a Dell partner when the vendor purchased EqualLogic in 2008."They've got a great focus on the channel from my perspective. The technology is stellar, great value proposition, excellent performance."

Dell has long lauded the fact that it was able to build a channel program from scratch and didn't have to learn from mistakes that take longer to fix over time. Also, it's been able to easily integrate components from channel programs of its acquisitions, Shaffer said.

"When Compellent came on, they had extended deal registration that once a partner wins a deal and closes the opportunity, they get the follow-on business with that opportunity," Shaffer said.

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