ARC 2012: Biggest Vendor Gains And Drops

The Ups And Downs Of The ARC

For 27 years, the Annual Report Card has surveyed vendors' solution providers for their opinions on their partners. Solution providers offer a good barometer on how these vendors treat partners, as well as how their products stack up. While some vendors take the ARC comments and ratings to heart, and strive to improve areas that received criticism, others are not so responsive.

Following are five vendors that fell from their solution providers' good graces, and five that did their homework. Here are the biggest declines and improvements in 2012.

No. 5 Biggest Drop: D-Link, SMB Network Storage

CEO: Roger Kao

Down: 7.2 (Overall Score: 69.4)

D-Link fell from third out of a field of four to fifth in a field of five in 2012. It scored lower in 16 out of 18 criteria. D-Link saw its score decline most in the services opportunity criterion, but it fell significantly in a number of other criteria, especially revenue and profit potential, and technical innovation.

No. 4 Biggest Drop: Kaspersky Lab, Network Security Software

CEO: Eugene Kaspersky

Down: 7.5 (Overall Score: 84.5)

Kaspersky finished in second place in the category this year, down a notch from 2011. However, it fared worse in every criteria compared with last year. Kaspersky fell the most in (product) technical innovation, enduring a 11.4-point drop. The vendor scored nearly as poorly in the services opportunity and solution provider program criteria.

No. 3 Biggest Drop: Juniper, Network Security Appliances

CEO: Kevin Johnson

Down: 8.0 points (Overall Score: 74.1)

Juniper lost all 18 criteria to Cisco and SonicWall and each of its 2012 scores was lower than those from 2011. The biggest decrease was in services opportunity, where the networking vendor fell 13.7 points from 2011. Solution provider program and quality of field management also were areas of particular disappointment, according to VAR respondents.

No. 2 Biggest Drop: Sophos, Client Security Software

CEO: Kris Hagerman

Down: 8.7 points (Overall Score: 81.1)

Last year, Sophos finished in first place in this category, and aced three criteria this year: (product) quality and reliability, richness of product features /functionality and (product) technical innovation. Still, those high scores -- quality was an impressive 106.2 -- were not enough to boost the overall score out of the biggest losers group. Its largest loss against top challenger Kaspersky Lab was in partner portal, but it fared nearly as poorly in ease of doing business.

No. 1 Biggest Drop: Symantec, Backup & Recovery Software

CEO: Steve Bennett

Down: 9.6 points (Overall Score: 72.7)

Symantec lost all 18 criteria to first-place EMC in Backup and Recovery Software. The biggest disparity was in revenue and profit potential, where Symantec was 23.2 points off the mark. Postsales support and services opportunity need substantial improvement as well, according to surveyed VARs.

No. 5 Biggest Gain: HP, Midrange Servers

CEO: Meg Whitman

Gain: 7.6 points (Overall Score: 77.4)

HP did better in every subcategory -- product innovation, support and partnership -- than it did in 2011. Most notable were its criteria gains in services opportunity and presales support, where its score rose more than 13 points. Its 11-point increases in the post-sales and manages channel conflict criteria were also impressive, but were not enough to beat Cisco.

No. 4 Biggest Gain: Trend Micro, Network Security Software

CEO: Eva Chen

Gain: 9.0 (Overall Score: 75.5)

The security vendor had tremendous improvement in ease of doing business, scoring 15.9 points higher in 2012 compared with 2011. VARs also gave the vendor considerably better marks in presales support (a 15-point gain), quality and reliability (12.8) and managing channel conflict (11.1). It improved in every criteria and came in third in a four-vendor race, beating IBM.

No. 3 Biggest Gain: Dell, SMB Network Storage

CEO: Michael Dell

Gain: 9.3 (Overall Score: 76.8)

Dell moved from last place among four vendors to third place among five companies in 2012.

The vendor saw enormous increases in several criteria, particularly in ease of doing business, where its score leapt 20.2 points from 2011. Other areas of huge improvement were return on investment (up 15.1 points), quality and reliability (up 14.9), and managing channel conflict (up 12.5).

No. 2 Biggest Gain: Microsoft, Data & Information Management

CEO: Steve Ballmer

Gain: 9.5 (Overall Score: 73.3)

From worst to first: Microsoft claimed the top spot in the Data and Information Management category this year, winning the title from IBM, which fell to the second slot. The Redmond powerhouse saw increases in its scores in every one of the 18 criteria. Its largest improvements were in post-sales support (up 16.2), and ease of doing business (up 15.2).

No. 1 Biggest Gain: Trend Micro, Client Security Software

CEO: Eva Chen

Gain: 9.8 (Overall Score: 83.1)

Trend Micro finished second in this category this year, behind Kaspersky Lab; despite stellar improvements, it couldn't quite edge out its rival. In 2011, Trend Micro came in last in a field of five competitors. Trend Micro's biggest improvement was in (product) quality and reliability, where its score rose 17.8 points. Other large increases were in quality of field management (up 13.1), and partner portal (up 11.9). The vendor won the return on investment criteria, with a score that was nearly 10 points higher than in 2011.