ARC 2011: The 21 Category Winners

ARC 2011: The 21 Club

In CRN's Annual Report Card there are 21 product categories and 21 winners. Solution providers rated their partners on 18 criteria in three subcategories: Product Innovation, Support and Partnership. Following are the winners in each category. See how your vendor partners fared.

Backup & Recovery Software

EMC swept this category, finishing with a score of 88.5, 16.2 points greater than last-place IBM. EMC's highest marks came in the categories of Product Quality and Reliability and Richness of Product Features/Functionality. The vendor also finished first in 2010.

Business Intelligence & Data Analytics

Oracle topped runner-up Microsoft by a hair more than a point, coming in with a score of 71.6. IBM placed a distant third with a score of 64.8. In the Product Innovation category, Oracle prevailed in four of six subcategories, garnering its highest marks in Product Features and Marketability. However, Microsoft edged out Oracle in Product Quality and Reliability, as well as Compatibility and Ease of Integration.

Client Security Software (Firewall, Antispam, Antivirus)

Sophos posted top scores in Product Innovation (94.8) and Support (85.5), but the security company lost in Partnership by less than a point to last year's top vendor, Kaspersky Lab. Sophos' highest scores were a 106.8 in Product Quality and Reliability and a 101.3 in Richness of Product Features/Functionality. Overall, its 89.8 trumped Kaspersky's score by only 0.7 of a point.

Data & Information Management

IBM edged out rival Oracle for the second year and soundly beat Microsoft. The vendor improved its scores across the board in Product Innovation, Support and Partnership. Last year, IBM had the overall highest score and beat out Oracle by just one-tenth of a point. This year IBM finished with a score of 72.5, besting Oracle by 2.5 and Microsoft by nearly 9 points.

Digital Signage

ViewSonic won CRN's new Digital Signage category with a score of 74.3. The vendor met its two familiar rivals, Samsung and NEC, in this new category, scoring top points in the areas of Support and Partnership. It was slightly edged out by competitor NEC in Product Innovation, 77.6 to 77.3.

Enterprise Network Storage

EMC swept all three major categories to win this year's ARC survey for Enterprise Network Storage, holding on against a strong showing from second-place NetApp and leaving its other competitors far behind. With an overall score of 83.7, the vendor beat rivals NetApp, Dell, Hitachi Data Systems, HP and IBM, which, in last place, scored nearly 17 points lower than EMC. Its strongest area was that of Product Quality and Reliability.

Enterprise Networking Infrastructure

Juniper has been on a roll this year, bringing in some high-profile executives, as well as growing mobile, video and cloud computing applications and upgrading and revamping its product line, including improvements in WAN and data center to data center connectivity. It had a clean sweep of all 18 criteria and had an overall score of 82.3. Juniper's highest score came in the Product Quality and Reliability criteria. In the competition against Cisco and HP, Juniper's largest margin of victory was 15.3 points in Product Technical Innovation and Services Opportunity, against HP.

Flat Panel Displays, 19- To 30-Inch

After having lost to ViewSonic in the Display category last year, Samsung redoubled its efforts and showed a strong commitment to the channel -- leading to top honors in the newly defined Flat Panel Displays category. Samsung won two subcategories: Product Innovation and Support. NEC won the Partnership subcategory.


Winner Oracle saw its scores jump from 2010, when the company finished behind rivals Microsoft and IBM. Its overall score of 76.3 is almost 6 points higher than in 2010. This year, Oracle outscored IBM in nearly every Product Innovation, Support and Partnership criteria -- and by significant margins. Oracle lost only the Technical Innovation criteria, by a slim margin. Microsoft did not achieve the required number of responses to be included in this year's survey.

Midrange (High-End) Servers

Dell took home this award for the second consecutive year, thanks to a dominant performance in the criteria for which it was once reviled by VARs -- partnership. The vendor finished ahead of IBM and HP in six of seven criteria under Partnership, including Solution Provider Program, Communications, Managing Channel Conflict, Revenue and Profit Potential, Return On Investment and Ease of Doing Business. Dell finished behind IBM in the Product Innovation and Support subcategories, but was close enough to finish first with a score of 75.2, thanks to those very strong Partnership scores.

Multifunction Printers

In the new category of Multifunction Printers, Xerox won by a narrow margin. Its score average for the Support subcategory was just 1 percentage point ahead of Lexmark, and 3 points ahead of HP. Even closer were score averages for Partnership, which Xerox eked out by just 0.7 of a point over Lexmark.

Network Security Appliances

Solution providers gave SonicWall top honors overall, with a score of 87.5, but the vendor did not earn a clean sweep of the three subcategories. It won in Product Innovation and Support, but partners gave Fortinet a strong thumbs-up in the Partnership area. SonicWall's highest scores came in Product Quality and Reliability and Richness of Product Features/Functionality.

Network Security Software

Kaspersky Lab received top marks in each subcategory in a clean sweep, knocking last year’s winner, Trend Micro, to second. In Product Innovation, Support and Partnership, Kaspersky took each subcategory, along with all the criteria for an overall score of 92 compared to Trend Micro’s 66.5. Its highest scores came in Product Quality and Reliability and Ease of Doing Business.

Notebooks/Mobile Computers

HP won top marks in the Notebooks/Mobile Computers category, wresting the title from Panasonic, last year’s winner. Still, Panasonic captured one of the highest scores in the entire report card -- 106.3 -- in the Quality and Reliability criteria. HP won each of the following Support criteria -- Pre-Sales Support, Post-Sales Support, Quality of Field Management and Marketing Support -- but lost Training to Lenovo. HP's overall score was 70.6.

Processors (Including Graphic Processors)

Intel followed up its win last year with a victory in the Processor category, running up higher scores than Nvidia, a newcomer to the category. Overall, Intel scored higher than Nvidia in a year of major disruptions to technology use patterns. Its overall score was 84.5, with its highest score an unmatched 108.8 in Product Quality and Reliability. AMD did not achieve the required number of responses to be included in this year's survey.

Server Virtualization Software

VMware won this category with a score of 72.2; it was the sole entrant because Microsoft and Oracle did not achieve the required number of responses to be included in this year's survey. VMware’s highest ARC survey scores came in the area of Product Innovation; the vendor also received high marks in Quality of Field Management, Managing Channel Conflict and for its Solution Provider Program.

SMB Networking Hardware

Winner Ruckus Wireless took both the Product Innovation and Partnership subcategory, due in large part to its stellar scores in Product Quality and Reliability (108.1) and Revenue and Profit Potential (95.8). It lost the Support subcategory to Adtran.

SMB Network Storage

EMC is the new solution provider favorite in the SMB Network Storage category, with a clean sweep of each of the ARC's subcategories, soundly beating this year’s second-place and last year’s winner HP. The vendor was rated highest in the Product Quality and Reliability and Revenue and Profit Potential criteria.

Unified Communications/VoIP Technology

Cisco won this category with an overall score of 77.7. Microsoft and Avaya, which participated last year, did not achieve the required number of solution provider responses to be included in this year's survey. Cisco's highest score was in Product Quality and Reliability, its lowest in Marketing Support.

Volume Servers

HP won the ARC award in this category after sweeping the Product Innovation, Support and Partnership subcategories, as well as 17 of the 18 criteria in each of the subcategories for servers less than $25,000. The vendor beat out IBM and Dell, with its highest score coming in Product Quality and Reliability and its biggest margin over the next-best company coming in Managing Channel Conflict. Its overall score of 76.4 beat second-place Dell by 6.1 points; Dell, however, did nab one criteria from HP, that of Post-Sales Support.

Workgroup Color Printers

For the second consecutive year, Xerox took the ARC Award for Workgroup Color Printers, outpacing HP and Oki Data, in that order. Xerox led most heavily in reseller-critical Partnership criteria, such as Ease of Doing Business, Communication and Partner Portal, and finished in Partnership with a score of 73.2. HP beat Xerox in just one area, that of Product Compatibility & Ease of Integration.