2012 Annual Report Card: 23 Category Winners

CRN's Solution Providers Rate Their Partners

Every year, CRN's Annual Report Card recognizes the achievements of IT vendors. This year, there were 23 product categories, and solution providers scored their partners on 18 criteria in three subcategories: product innovation, support and partnership. Here are the manufacturers that solution providers awarded top honors to in each category.

Backup & Recovery Software: EMC

CEO: Joe Tucci

EMC swept this category, winning each of the criterion and finishing with a score of 88.2, almost 20 points greater than last-place IBM. As in 2011, EMC's highest marks came in the subcategory criteria of product quality and reliability, and revenue and profit potential. The vendor finished first in 2011 and 2010.

Business Intelligence & Data Analytics: Microsoft

CEO: Steve Ballmer

Microsoft and Oracle switched spots this year, with Microsoft winning all three subcategories to win the overall category. Microsoft's 73.2 trumped Oracle's 70.9 and IBM's 66.6. Microsoft earned its highest scores in the product innovation subcategory, where the vendor prevailed in five of six criteria, garnering its best marks in product quality and reliability. IBM, however, handily won the marketability criterion in that subcategory.

Client Security Software (Firewall, Antispam, Antivirus): Kaspersky Lab

CEO: Eugene Kaspersky

Kaspersky recaptured the crown in 2012 that it lost to Sophos last year. And, oh, how the mighty fell: Sophos, despite a sky-high 106.2 in product quality and reliability, came in third place out of six vendors. Sophos also posted top scores in richness of product features/functionalilty (98.7) and (product) technical innovation (97.3), but Kaspersky managed to win the product innovation subcategory overall, as well as the other two: support and partnership.

Cloud Applications: Microsoft

CEO: Steve Ballmer

Microsoft won the Cloud Applications category handily, earning first place in all ARC criteria to beat Oracle, the only other competitor in this category. For the most part, the contest was not close; Microsoft trounced Oracle in the subcategory overall averages. In product innovation, Microsoft scored its largest margin of victory: 17.4 points separated the two vendors.

Collaboration Software: Microsoft

CEO: Steve Ballmer

This is another category in which Microsoft stole the show, this time from IBM. Like the Cloud Applications category, Collaboration Software is a newcomer to the ARC survey. Microsoft performed a clean sweep, winning all 18 criteria. The largest difference between the two vendors came in the marketability criteria: 19 points.

Data & Information Management: Microsoft

CEO: Steve Ballmer

Microsoft dethroned IBM, the category winner for the previous two years. The vendor, which won all three subcategories, improved its scores in product innovation, partnership and support. Microsoft's overall score was nearly 10 points higher than in 2011; its greatest strides were in the criteria of post-sales support and ease of doing business.

Desktop & Server Virtualization: VMware

CEO: Pat Gelsinger

VMware trounced Oracle, the only other vendor included in the category, by a wide margin in all but one of the criteria, narrowly losing in managing channel conflict. VMware dominated the product innovation subcategory, where it beat Oracle by 23.2 points. The vendor also scored big in the support and partnership subcategories, scoring double-digit wins in both categories.

Digital Signage: ViewSonic

CEO: James Chu

For the second consecutive year, ViewSonic won the ARC Digital Signage category. Challenger NEC did, however, give the champ a run for its money. NEC took the product innovation subcategory, but ViewSonic's scores were strong enough in support and partnership to earn it the distinction of overall winner, beating both NEC and Samsung.

Enterprise Networking Infrastructure: Cisco Systems

CEO: John Chambers

Cisco edged second-place finisher Juniper Networks by final scores of 82.4 to 80.1. In last year's ARC Awards, the roles were reversed as Juniper posted a slim margin of victory. But this year, a series of technology updates delivered a victory to the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant. Cisco won all three subcategories of product innovation, support and partnership, but Juniper was a formidable challenger, winning six of 18 criteria. Trailing in third place was Hewlett-Packard with an overall score of 67.5.

Enterprise Network Storage: EMC

CEO: Joe Tucci

EMC won 17 of 18 criteria and all three major subcategories to emerge victorious in this year's ARC survey for Enterprise Network Storage, as it did in 2011. EMC widened its lead against second-place challenger NetApp and left other competitors in the dust. With an overall score of 85.4, the vendor beat NetApp, Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, which, in last place, scored more than 15 points lower than EMC. Product quality and reliability was EMC's strongest suit; the one criteria it lost to NetApp was in ease of doing business.

Flat-Panel Displays: Samsung

CEO: Kwon Oh Hyun

Despite winning the support and partnership subcategories, NEC lost the overall Flat Panel Displays category -- by a hair -- to Samsung. Samsung, which won in the product innovation subcategory, earned a 106.9 in product quality, the second highest score in that criterion in the entire ARC. Samsung and NEC's overall scores improved from 2011, while ViewSonic's declined.

Middleware: IBM

CEO: Virginia M. Rometty

IBM came roaring back from 2011 to capture the overall win in Middleware, as well as each of the three subcategories. In 2011, the vendor was overthrown by Oracle. This year, Oracle repeated its 2010 performance, finishing behind Microsoft and IBM. IBM's largest margin of victory was in the product quality criterion, where it crushed Oracle by 13.5 points. However, Oracle bested IBM in four criteria: services opportunity, partner portal, managing channel conflict and ease of doing business. In addition, Microsoft won the training criterion.

Midrange Servers: Cisco

CEO: John Chambers

Cisco, a newcomer to the category, scored a huge victory, particularly because the vendor was not even a factor in the market as recently as three years ago. In an impressive showing, Cisco's three subcategory averages beat No. 2 HP and No. 3 IBM by no less than eight points. Its greatest margin of victory was in the ease of doing business criterion, where it crushed IBM by 23.2 points, and HP by 14.4. Dell, which won the product category in 2011, was not represented this year.

Multifunction Printers: Xerox

CEO: Ursula Burns

Xerox won this two-year-old category for the second time, by a much wider margin than in 2011. The vendor decidedly improved in product innovation and support, and lost no ground in partnership. Lexmark came in second, followed by Samsung and Hewlett-Packard. Despite its last-place finish, HP earned criterion wins in product quality and (product) compatibility, and ease of integration. Lexmark took first in presales support, and Samsung finished ahead in revenue and profit potential, and ROI.

Network Security Appliances: Cisco And SonicWall

CEO: John Chambers (Cisco) and Matthew Medeiros (SonicWall)

Last year's No. 1 vendor in this segment, SonicWall, tied for top honors overall with Cisco. Each earned scores of 83.0, lower than SonicWall's 87.5 in 2011. Although SonicWall won in the product innovation subcategory, and Cisco took the support subcategory, a third vendor -- Fortinet -- won in partnership. Third-place overall, Fortinet was just barely out of first place, missing the winner's circle by half a point.

Network Security Software: RSA

CEO: Art Coviello

Solution providers ranked RSA tops in this category, booting out last year's winner, Kaspersky Lab. This year, it was RSA's turn to earn top marks in each criterion comprising the product innovation, support and partnership subcategories. RSA's highest score -- 102.9 -- was in product quality. The vendor's overall score of 90.9 roundly beat Kaspersky's 84.5, Trend Micro's 75.5 and IBM's 74.3.

Notebooks/Mobile Computers: Hewlett-Packard

CEO: Meg Whitman

Hewlett-Packard retained its No. 1 rank in the Notebooks/Mobile Computers category. However, second-place challenger Lenovo won the product innovation subcategory, as well as several criteria, including product quality and revenue, and profit potential. Dell, in third place, earned top scores in post-sales support. Panasonic and Samsung came in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Processors (Including Graphics Processors): Intel

CEO: Paul Otellini

Once again, Intel is the champ in the Processors category. The vendor's 107.8 in product quality was the highest score for that criterion in the entire ARC survey. Its greatest margin of victory against AMD, its sole competitor, was 28.7 points, in the training criterion. Throughout the survey, AMD was a distant second: Overall, Intel's score of 84.5 trumped AMD's 67.0.

SMB Networking Hardware: Cisco

CEO: John Chambers

Despite winning both the product innovation and partnership subcategories, last year's ARC champ Ruckus Wireless lost by the narrowest of margins -- .1 -- to Cisco. Cisco's strong support scores gave it just the push it needed to claim the top spot. Last year, Ruckus lost the support subcategory as well, to Adtran. This year, Adtran came in third overall -- but placed second in the support subcategory. D-Link finished fourth overall, as it did in 2011 -- just ahead of Cisco. Hewlett-Packard did not achieve the required number of responses to be included in this year's survey.

SMB Network Storage: EMC

CEO: Joe Tucci

EMC, for the second consecutive year, took first place overall in the SMB Network Storage category. The vendor's highest mark was a 105.8 in product quality and reliability. EMC won each of the three subcategories, although newcomer Buffalo Technology posted wins in the post-sales support and ease of doing business criteria. Buffalo came in second overall, followed by Dell, HP and D-Link.

Unified Communications/VoIP Technology: Cisco

CEO: John Chambers

Cisco bested its rival ShoreTel with an overall score of 80.6 vs. its competitor's 78.9. Cisco's lowest score was in partner portal (63.1), while its highest was in product quality and reliability (97.7). However, ShoreTel beat the champ in product quality with a 98.4, and won another six of the 18 criteria, including revenue and profit potential.

Volume Servers: Hewlett-Packard

CEO: Meg Whitman

Hewlett-Packard continued its dominance from 2011, winning the three subcategories as well as 12 out of 18 criteria used to judge vendors. HP's strongest scores came in the product innovation subcategory. Overall, HP emerged on top over second-place finisher Dell, which was followed by IBM and Lenovo in the category. HP's largest margin of victory was 22.5 points over Lenovo in the richness of product features criterion.

Workgroup Color Printers: Xerox

CEO: Ursula Burns

For the third consecutive year, Xerox took the ARC Award for Workgroup Color Printers, outpacing Hewlett-Packard, Oki Data, Lexmark and Samsung, in that order. Xerox won the support and partnership subcategories, but ceded product innovation to HP. Although Xerox's highest score in the category was in product quality (90.9), it could not beat HP (96.0). The scores reflected an effort by HP to improve quality; in 2011, HP beat Xerox in just one criterion, that of product compatibility and ease of integration.