2008 CRN Channel Champion: Security

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Cisco Systems Inc. earned the top spot in the 2008 CRN Channel Champions Survey network security appliances category, getting high praises from VARs for both presales and post-sales support, but falling behind competing vendors when it comes to down to dollars.

Cisco, San Jose, Calif., scored an overall 73.4, beating out Juniper Networks Inc., which was a strong second with 72.3. Rounding out the top six were SonicWall Inc. (68.7), Trend Micro Inc. (67.5), Fortinet Inc. (67) and McAfee Inc. (65.3).

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Cisco scored highest in several technical criteria for its security appliances, including product quality and reliability, where it took the criterion, earning its widest margin, 6.2 points, over Juniper. Management and configuration
features and scalability also earned Cisco the top spot. Those results gave
the networking powerhouse an overall technical satisfaction rating of 88.1,
compared to Juniper's 85.5.

The biggest challenge for Cisco was price for performance. Cisco placed fifth in that category, getting beat out by Juniper, Trend Micro, SonicWall and McAfee. Cisco was beaten out in all but one category under the financial criteria, placing fourth when it comes to ROI of vendor relationship; third in product margins, spifs and rebates; and second for services attach rate. Cisco did, however, capture the top spot for projected sales increases next year, scoring a more than 3-point victory over Juniper and Fortinet. Those results left Cisco second overall in the financial criteria, with 60.7 points, while Juniper wrangled 61.9.

But what it lacked in financial satisfaction, Cisco made up for with its program and support. Cisco slammed Juniper by more than 5 points for post-sales support and more than 3 points for presales support. Cisco also earned high praise and a more than 3-point victory over Juniper for technical training, helping it capture program and support victory with an overall score of 68.9 points, 1.5 points higher than Juniper's 67.4.

VARs said it's no surprise that Cisco took top honors for technical superiority and for its program and support. Ladi Adefala, security practice manager for World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider, said Cisco has been ramping up its programs over the past few years.

"Over the last three years we've seen a lot of investment from Cisco in terms of partner programs," Adefala said. "It's incredible. They understand the role the partners play and try to empower them as much as they can. The level of partnership is greater now than it was before, especially when it comes to security."

-- Andrew R. Hickey

High marks for technical prowess gave Trend Micro Inc. what it needed to win the client security software category of this year's Channel Champions Survey. Trend Micro, Cupertino, Calif., posted an overall satisfaction score of 70.9 to beat five competitors, including No. 2 Websense, which earned an overall score of 69.8, and No. 3 McAfee Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., which earned a 68.5.

The antivirus giant beat out its competition in the technical area with its 1.7 point lead over closest competitor Symantec. The key to Trend Micro's win was its strong showing in the price for performance criterion and product quality and reliability.

But that was the only area it won. In the program and support area, Trend Micro bested rivals only in relevance of channel program, losing the space to Websense.

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In the financial area, San Diego-based Websense again outpaced Trend Micro, taking ROI of vendor relationship and services attach rate to edge out Trend Micro 60.8 to 60.6.

Partners said that Trend Micro maintains its lead on price points by offering flexible pricing or extending a contract in an effort to stay ahead of the competition.

"They won't lose on price," asserted Stephen Nacci, Trend Micro partner and regional account manager for TLIC Worldwide Inc.

Likewise, partners said that the company excelled in product quality and reliability, which was demonstrated when Trend Micro beat out its nearest competition by 1.4 points, according to the partner survey.

"They have a huge portfolio and they try to customize to every end user instead of just throwing out an all-in-one suite that can eat up resources," Nacci said. "Instead of throwing in the whole kitchen sink, they say, 'Let's take a look at this network environment.' More times than not, they find something other vendors might have missed."

Trend Micro partners also hailed the vendor as decent in its support
categories. "They actually do a pretty good job on the presales side," said Wes Parker, director of the performance management group for Stalwart Systems, based in Greenville, S.C.

-- Stefanie Hoffman

A stellar showing on all fronts won Trend Micro Inc. the crown in the network security software product category in the 2008 CRN Channel Champions Survey.

Trend Micro earned an overall satisfaction score of 75.1, soundly beating the other four competitors in the category. McAfee Inc. came in second with a 71.9 overall score, followed by No. 3 IBM/Tivoli Corp. with a 71.7.

Trend Micro won four of the five criteria in the technical area, losing to McAfee, Santa Clara, Calif., in the important vulnerability/intrusion prevention and management criterion. IBM/Tivoli, White Plains, N.Y., edged out Trend Micro in one of the five program and support criteria in the program, where IBM beat the winner by three-tenths of a point in technical training.

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Trend Micro, Cupertino, Calif., swept all criteria in the financial area, where its widest margin of victory was in product margins, spifs and rebates.

"Their products seem to work," said Sean Rice, director of sales and marketing for ACP Inc., Birmingham, Ala. "They've worked internally with our organization for nine years, and have never had any outbreak nor have we ever had our network down for any vulnerability."

Rice said, "There are certainly cheaper solutions out there, but you get what you pay for. We don't lose opportunities with Trend Micro on price because people see the value."

Partners also said Trend Micro does a good job of managing channel conflict. "They manage it so well; in our case, I can't tell you a time in all these years where I've had any heartburn over any channel conflict, and that's huge," said Bill Cooper, an eight-year Trend Micro partner and president and CEO of Stalwart Systems Group, based in Greenville, S.C.

Partners said that Trend Micro's channel program is still among the best due to the company's ability to consider feedback and respond to partners' concerns. "Trend takes action. They go out of their way to solicit feedback and they respond. They're nimble. They execute well," Cooper said. "Trend deserves the accolades they're getting, from the senior management all the way down."

-- Stefanie Hoffman

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