CLIENT SECURITY SOFTWARE
Symantec pulled out a squeaker over rival Trend Micro in the client security software category of this year's Channel Champions survey, besting it by only one-tenth of a point with an overall rating of 67.3 to Trend Micro's 67.2.
The key to Symantec's win was its strong showing in both technical and financial criteria. In the technical category, Symantec earned a score of 85.5 compared with Trend Micro's 85.2, taking three of the four criteria, including the top-weighted product quality and reliability criteria as well as management features, where Symantec outpaced Trend Micro by almost a full point.
"Symantec's newer products are coming out much more enterprise-ready," said David Sockol, president of Emagined Security, a San Carlos, Calif., solution provider that's been a Symantec partner for the past three years.
Symantec also won the financial criteria with a 54.2 rating compared with Trend Micro's 53.4. "Lowering TCO is one of our missions, and something we've focused on," said Brian Foster, senior director of product management at Symantec, Cupertino, Calif.
In the financial criteria, Symantec posted a full point lead over its rival in margins, rebates and spifs. "Symantec will still honor a rebate to the partner that registers an opportunity, even if another partner comes in and tanks the deal," said Pat Edwards, vice president of sales and marketing at Alliance Technology Group, Hanover, Md. "That's a great thing and sends a real message to the partner community that they understand the volatile nature of our business."
What made the contest close was Trend Micro's strong showing in the program and support criteria. Trend Micro posted a score of 69 to Symantec's 68.3, winning five of the six criteria, led by post-sales support, where Trend Micro beat Symantec by 2.6 points. In the one program criterion where Symantec's rating was higher than Trend Micro's—efforts to manage channel conflict—the gap was a solid 1.3 points.
For Sockol, Symantec's strong suit is its willingness to listen to partners and adapt to the rapidly changing marketplace. "The real key is flexibility," he said. "They've been willing to work with us to determine what's right for our clients."
Next: Network Security Software
NETWORK SECURITY SOFTWARE
Solution providers said Symantec's scalable software, robust technical education program and solid channel benefits were a cut above the competition, enabling the vendor to capture victory in network security software.
With an overall satisfaction rating of 69.2, Symantec outpaced runner-up Trend Micro's score of 66.9. A neck-and-neck battle for third place saw Check Point Software Technologies edge out McAfee, 66.4 to 66.2.
Symantec captured five out of the six channel program and support criteria, coming in 3.8 points ahead in technical education resources and 3.5 points ahead in managing channel conflict.
Symantec offers in-depth technical training and makes it convenient for partners to obtain it, said Norman Menz, managing member of Prevalent Networks, a solution provider in Bridgewater, N.J. "They drive a message to partners that in order to sell certain types of products, they need to be certified. And they take it a step further by providing training throughout the country and funding the cost of that training," Menz said.
Additional materials such as Symantec Yellow Books, which help boost partners' understanding of how the different components of a solution integrate with each other, are additional examples of the vendor's commitment to the channel, he said.
Randy Cochran, vice president of channel sales for the Americas at the vendor, said Symantec will continue its technical training investments. "Our partners continue to express appreciation for our online technical assessments, which help establish them as credible experts on Symantec products and earn the loyalty of their customers," Cochran said.
Solution providers also ranked Symantec highly in financial criteria, where the vendor won four out of six categories and racked up a 10.2-point vendor sales share advantage over second-place Trend Micro.
Jeff Tye, co-founder of Tucson, Ariz.-based solution provider GMP Networks, said his company's Symantec sales have been strong and steady. "I'm pretty bullish on the leadership position that Symantec is taking in IT governance, compliance and e-mail archiving," he said.
Next: Network Security Hardware
NETWORK SECURITY HARDWARE
Scalable products, strong security features and rock-solid channel education and support helped Cisco Systems gallop to a decisive win.
Cisco's overall rating was 72, compared with runner-up SonicWall's 68.8. Juniper Networks placed third with 66.2, followed by Symantec (65.9), McAfee (65.7), Trend Micro (64.8) and WatchGuard (62.7).
In technical criteria, Cisco achieved its largest margins of victory in product quality and reliability, and scalability.
Cisco's biggest challenge of late has been bringing its products downmarket to SMB customers, said Steven Reese, security practice manager at Nexus Integration Services, Valencia, Calif. "However, they're fortunate to have a reverse model in their business, which lends itself to the ability to be scalable," he said.
Solution providers also ranked Cisco highly in channel program and support, where the vendor swept all six criteria. Its largest margins of victory came in the areas of technical education, presales support and efforts to keep partners informed.
Gary Berzack, CTO of eTribeca, an integrator in New York, said Cisco has actually been almost too proactive about communicating with partners. "While it feels wonderful to be cared for, it's kind of like getting five newspapers a day when you only have time to read one. I'm informed, but not necessarily enabled," he said.
Although Cisco won four out of six areas in the financial category, the vendor's margin of victory was less than 1 point in three of these areas. Cisco outpaced Symantec by 8.4 points in terms of vendor sales share, but lost to SonicWall in two areas: last year's sales increase and next year's projected sales increase.
However, Cisco had its largest margin of victory in the services attach-rate criterion. This has long been one of the vendor's strongest attributes, said Jason Swegle, security practice manager at The Root Group, a Boulder, Colo.-based solution provider. "Every time we've sold Cisco gear, there are services to go along with it. And we still do lots of Cisco services work, even when we haven't sold the original product," he said.