2011 Channel Champions: Overall Winners

Channel Champions: The Best Of The Best

CRN’s Channel Champions survey asks solution providers to grade their IT vendors in a number of product areas on multiple criteria within three subcategories centering on support satisfaction, technical satisfaction and financial factors. This year, solution providers rated 102 IT vendors across 26 product categories. Here’s a look at the best of the best, as channel partners see it.

SMB Network Storage

Score: 77.0

HP swept the technical, support and financial subcategories to earn the win in SMB network storage. Solution providers gave the company its highest margin of victory in pre-sales support.

Enterprise Network Storage

Score: 79.7

NetApp quickly climbed the ranks of the enterprise network storage market, winning the category this year after a fifth-place finish in 2010. The company says it has worked hard to grow market share, grow the pathways to the market by leveraging partners and drive business efficiencies. Its channel partners are clearly happy with the results.

Server Virtualization

Score: 77.5

VMware was the runaway winner in the server virtualization category with a clean sweep of every criterion measured in the survey. The company in part credits its close relationship with its Partner Advisory Council and the changes it has made based on its members’ feedback for its channel success.

Systems & Network Management

Score: 79.4

HP edged out second-place finisher Microsoft by 0.4 points to claim the Channel Champions crown in Systems & Network Management. HP captured eight of 14 criteria, with its widest margins of victory coming in product reliability and quality, post-sales support and services attach, or dollars of revenue for services for every dollar sold or recommended.

SATA Hard Drives

Score: 78.0

Seagate led the pack in each of the three subcategories -- technical, support and financial -- to claim victory in the SATA Hard Drives category. It outperformed its rivals by the widest margins in product quality/reliability and pricing.

Power Protection & Management

Score: 80.0

APC, part of Schneider Electric, won the Power Protection & Management category for the last 18 years, with a particularly strong showing in the technical areas of the survey this year, where it swept all five criteria.

Client Security Software

Score: 77.8

Symantec made a clean sweep of the technical, support and financial subcategories and all of the criteria within. In taking the crown, Symantec bumped 2010’s winner, Kaspersky Lab, to fifth place while relegating rivals Trend Micro, McAfee and AVG to second, third and fourth, respectively.

Network Security Appliances

Cisco Systems
Score: 78.5

Cisco swept all three subcategories on its way to victory in the Network Security Appliances category. It achieved strong accolades from partners in presales support, post-sales support and education and enablement.

Cloud Applications

Score: 76.5

In a tight race, Microsoft edged out Salesforce.com to win the Cloud Applications category. Microsoft now has the distinction of taking top honors in the category’s inaugural year.

Business Intelligence

Score: 77.4

Despite attempts by rivals IBM, Oracle and SAP to buy their way into stronger business intelligence portfolios via acquisitions, Microsoft won the category with a clean sweep of all criteria. Partners must agree with Microsoft’s philosophy that the best way to bring BI capabilities to a wide audience is through the software knowledge workers already use every day.


Score: 75.0

IBM was a repeat winner in the Middleware category after claiming victory in the same category in last year’s survey as well. It swept all three subcategories, earning particular praise from channel partners for its competitive pricing.


Score: 81.1

Cisco took the top prize in the Videoconferencing category, besting its rivals in all three subcategories and in 13 of 14 criteria. Cisco worked hard throughout the year to successfully integrate Tandberg’s channel program and partners into its own after acquiring the company in April, 2010. Cisco partners are clearly pleased with the results.

Data & Information Management

Score: 76.4

Microsoft’s product quality and reliability, evaluation policies and partner training helped propel the software giant to victory in the Data & Information Management category. Microsoft bested IBM and Oracle in all 14 technical, support and financial criteria.

Network Security Software

Score: 73.3

In a dramatic shift from 2010, Novell captured the Network Security Software category after placing fifth last year. Novell got high marks in two subcategories: technical and support satisfaction, and Novell’s network security software plays took top honors for making solution providers money, ranking the best for margins, spifs and rebates.

Midrange Servers

Score: 78.1

IBM took the top spot in the Midrange Servers category, winning kudos for technical and support satisfaction but losing every criterion in the financial subcategory to Dell.

Unified Communications/VoIP

Score: 78.7

Cisco Systems handily won the Unified Communications/VoIP category with a clean sweep of all three subcategories. Solution providers were particularly pleased with its product quality and reliability, the interoperability of its product lines and its pre-sales and post-sales support offerings.

Backup & Recovery Software

IBM Tivoli
Score: 76.4

IBM Tivoli significantly outpaced its rivals in technical and support satisfaction to win the Backup & Recovery Software category. It had a particularly strong showing in the areas of product quality and reliability, pre- and post-sales support and scalability.

Collaboration Software

Score: 77.5

Microsoft is the 2011 Channel Champion in Collaboration Software, edging out rival IBM in this new technology category for the annual Channel Champions study. Microsoft, which offers collaboration products including the popular SharePoint collaboration platform, as well as Exchange and Lync, received an overall score significantly greater than second-place finisher IBM.

Enterprise Networking Hardware

Score: 82.9

Cisco swept the enterprise networking hardware category in CRN’s 2011 Channel Champions survey, bolstered by the quality and reliability of its product portfolio as well as the strength of the post-sales support it provides to its channel partners. Cisco garnered victories in all three subcategories: technical, support and financial, beating out its rivals in 12 of 14 criteria. It’s overall rating of 82.9 was the highest of any achieved in the survey.

Flat-Panel Displays

Score: 80.3

Samsung was the big winner in the Flat-Panel Displays category of the 2011 Channel Champions survey, placing first in 12 of 14 criteria and earning the highest scores in each of the three subcategories of technical satisfaction, support satisfaction and financial factors. Samsung’s technical satisfaction score was the second highest in that subcategory among all the product categories. Solution providers gave the vendor particularly high marks for image quality and product quality and reliability.

Multifunction Printers

Score: 75.8

In a tight race, Xerox took top honors in the Multifunction Printers category, edging out tough competition, primarily from Hewlett-Packard. Xerox won the support subcategory, but lost the criteria of security, and product quality and reliability to HP.

Notebooks & Mobile Computers

Score: 76.3

Lenovo was the top pick in the Notebook & Mobile Computers category, receiving the highest score in four of the five technical criteria, including product quality and reliability, battery life and thermal management/performance, price for performance and screen quality.


Score: 79.8

Intel won top grades in the three main areas of technical satisfaction, support satisfaction and financial factors, no surprise given its practice of growing technical and channel investments by significant amounts year after year. Intel was rated higher than rival Advanced Micro Devices in almost every category, a nod to the chip giant’s deep product lineup and traditionally strong market penetration. Its biggest edge against the competition was in product reliability and quality, and came as the company ramped up its Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 product platforms.

SMB Networking Hardware

Score: 73.7

After watching rival HP win this category two years in a row, Cisco finally broke through and won the SMB Networking Hardware category. While HP edged out Cisco in the financial factors subcategory, Cisco took the high scores in technical satisfaction and support satisfaction. Cisco’s score in the technical satisfaction category was particularly high relative to other scores in the survey.

Volume Servers

Score: 75.5

For the second year in a row, HP edged out its rivals in the 2011 Channel Champions Volume Servers category HP easily won the technical satisfaction subcategory in this year’s Channel Champions survey, but the IT giant narrowly beat Lenovo in the support satisfaction subcategory. Lenovo, however, topped HP in the financial factors subcategory.

Workgroup Color Printers

Score: 79.2

A year after losing the Channel Champions Workgroup Color Printers category to Xerox for three years straight, HP stormed back with a vengeance to claim the crown in this year’s survey, sweeping all three categories.