ARC 2011: The 10 Highest Scoring Vendors

10 Vendors That Understand Solution Providers

For 26 years, CRN has polled solution providers for their take on various vendors' capabilities. High quality and great return on investment put vendors at the top of CRN’s Annual Report Card (ARC).

VARs provide vendor ratings within product specialties, and criteria fall into three subcategories: Product Innovation, Support and Partnership. Following are the 10 vendors with the highest overall scores in the ARC.

No. 10: EMC - Enterprise Network Storage

Overall Score: 83.7

EMC swept all three major categories, despite a strong showing from second-place NetApp. The vendor left its other competitors in the dust. EMC beat its rivals in the Product Innovation, Support and Partnership categories, and indeed made nearly a clean sweep of all the individual factors in each category, being topped by NetApp only in terms of Richness of Product Features and Ease of Doing Business.

No. 9: Intel - Processors

Overall Score: 84.5

Intel followed up its win last year with a victory in 2011, earning higher scores than category newcomer Nvidia. In a year when Intel began real volume shipments of its Sandy Bridge technology and next-generation Core i5 and Core i7 processors, the company’s highest score in the ARC survey came in the Product Quality and Reliability criteria. Here, Intel did even better than it did in 2010, when it also scored its highest marks in quality and reliability. Overall, Intel scored higher than Nvidia in each of the categories. Its lowest scores were in Services Opportunity and Marketing Support -- but even in those were significantly higher than in 2010.

No. 8: Ruckus Wireless - SMB Networking Hardware

Overall Score: 85.5

Ruckus, growing revenue more than 100 percent year-over-year, came in eighth on this top 10 list, grabbing the top spot in the SMB Networking Hardware category. The vendor lost only a handful of subcategories to Adtran and one to HP. A big contributor to Ruckus' high rank? The vendor earned an eye-popping 108.1 in the criterion of Product Quality and Reliability -- and is considered by solution providers to be deeply engaged in channel support.

No. 7: Fortinet - Network Security Appliances

Overall Score: 86.1

Fortinet's channel partners gave the vendor a strong thumbs-up in the Partnership subcategory, thereby snatching a clean sweep from SonicWall in the Network Security Appliances product category. The vendor's overall score was pumped by its high scores in Technical Innovation and Revenue and Profit Potential.

No. 6: SonicWall - Network Security Appliances

Overall Score: 87.5

SonicWall topped the category in an upset victory over Fortinet, which led the ARC in 2010 and 2009, and Juniper, which led the 2008 and 2007 surveys. Solution providers gave SonicWall top honors in Product Innovation and Support; the vendor has made substantial investments in channel support in recent years. On the Product Innovation side, SonicWall recently introduced software to improve the control of the appliances and to better manage security traffic.

No. 5: EMC - SMB Network Storage

Overall Score: 88.3

EMC, which has adapted its organization and products for its SMB push, was the new solution provider favorite in the SMB Network Storage category. The vendor had a clean sweep of every category in the survey, soundly beating last year's winner HP. EMC's top criteria scores were in Quality and Reliability and Revenue and Profit Potential.

No. 4: EMC - Backup & Recovery Software

Overall Score: 88.5

EMC handily won the Backup and Recovery Software category, as it did in 2010. This year, the vendor swept every criteria, winning each of the three subcategories. EMC's performance in Return on Investment was third highest in that criteria. It also earned high marks for Quality and Reliability and Richness of Product Features.

No. 3: Kaspersky - Client Security Software

Overall Score: 89.1

Kaspersky did not win this category, losing to Sophos by less than 1 point. The vendor did particularly well in the criterion of ROI and Revenue and Profit Potential but lost ground in Quality and Reliability, and Richness of Product Features/Functionality.

No. 2: Sophos - Client Security Software

Overall Score: 89.8

In a tight battle with Kaspersky, Sophos was the victor. The security company posted top scores in Product Innovation and Support but lost the Partnership subcategory to Kaspersky, which was last year's top player. Sophos took a hit in the ROI and Revenue and Profit Potential criterion; its new vice president for channels has said Sophos will target more security-focused solution providers instead of traditional software resellers moving forward.

No. 1: Kaspersky - Network Security Software

Overall Score: 92.0

Getting top marks in each category, Kaspersky knocked last year's winner, Trend Micro, to second place. Quality and Reliability and Ease of Doing Business were Kaspersky's hallmarks. Kaspersky came out ahead in each criteria, beating out Trend Micro by 25.5 points overall.