ARC 2012: Top Channel Programs

The Best Vendor Partner Programs

If there is one central truth to being an IT solution provider, it's that you can't do it alone: VARs need partners. When both parties benefit, the sky's the limit. What makes a perfect partner? Support, training, responsiveness, as well as many things that are less finite. Channel partners surveyed for CRN's Annual Report Card rated these programs. Here are the 10 best.

#10 NEC: Digital Signage

CEO: Pierre Richer

NEC scored a 76.6 in the solution provider program criterion, beating that of rival Samsung. NEC's score jumped more than 10 points from the vendor's 66.2 in 2011.

#9 ViewSonic: Digital Signage

CEO: James Chu

ViewSonic's criterion score of 77.4 beat that of NEC (ranked tenth on this list) as well as that of Samsung. ViewSonic's criterion score was up from 2011, when the vendor received a 69.1.

#8 SonicWall: Network Security Appliances

CEO: Matthew Medeiros

Solution providers gave SonicWall a 78.6 for its channel program. SonicWall's criterion score was down from 2011, when the vendor received an 80.8. SonicWall tied overall in the Network Security Appliances product category with Cisco.

#7 (tie) EMC: Enterprise Network Storage

CEO: Joe Tucci

At 79.2, EMC's solution provider program ranked seventh in the entire CRN survey. Within the Enterprise Network Storage category, EMC handily beat competitors NetApp, Dell, IBM and HP. EMC's score is up from last year's 76.8.

#7 (tie) Kaspersky Lab: Client Security Software

CEO: Eugene Kaspersky

Kaspersky tied for the seventh slot on this top 10 list with EMC. Its 79.2 beat challengers Trend Micro, Sophos, Symantec, AVG and McAfee within this product category. However, last year, Kaspersky scored higher -- an 81.4, and was beaten by Sophos with an 83.5.

#5 Intel: Processors

CEO: Paul Otellini

VARs ranked Intel, the ARC champ in product quality, No. 5 in terms of its solution provider program. The vendor received a 79.9, down considerably from 86.0 in the criterion in 2011. Still, its score was 20 points greater than that of competitor AMD. Last year, Sophos, in the Client Security Software category, took the No. 5 spot for channel program.

#4 EMC: SMB Network Storage

CEO: Joe Tucci

EMC's 80.8 solidly beat rivals Buffalo Technology, Dell, HP and D-Link. The vendor's score slid from 2011's 85.1. EMC also was in the fourth slot in 2011, but for Backup and Recovery Software.

#3 EMC: Backup & Recovery Software

CEO: Joe Tucci

EMC moved up one notch in 2012. The vendor's 81.2 put it well ahead of its closest competitor in the Backup & Recovery Software category, NetApp. In a swap of sorts, EMC won third place last year for its channel program as well, for its offering in the SMB Network Storage category (No. 4 in 2012).

#2 Cisco Systems: Midrange Servers

CEO: John Chambers

With a 83.9, Cisco's channel program earned kudos from solution providers. Within the Midrange Servers category, it beat HP and IBM hands down. Cisco was not a vendor in this category in 2011.

#1 RSA: Network Security Software

CEO: Art Coviello

RSA's 85.9 was the highest score for the solution provider program criterion in the entire ARC survey. In 2011, Intel (Processors) and Kaspersky Lab (Network Security Software) tied for first place.