2013 Annual Report Card: 19 Category Winners

Solution Providers Rate Their Partners

Every year CRN's Annual Report Card recognizes the achievements of IT vendors. This year, there were 19 categories, and more than 2,200 solution providers scored their IT vendors on 18 criteria in three subcategories: product innovation, support and partnership. Here are the IT vendors to which solution providers awarded top honors in each category.

Backup & Recovery Software: EMC

CEO: Joe Tucci

EMC swept this category, winning in all three criteria (product innovation, support and partnership) and finishing with a score of 87.1, nearly 15 points ahead of Symantec and almost 20 points greater than IBM. EMC has now won this category three years running and, as in 2011 and 2012, EMC's highest marks came in the subcategory criterion of product quality and reliability (104.3), and revenue and profit potential (95.3).

Business Analytics: IBM

CEO: Ginni Rometty

IBM swept this category this year, a turnaround for the company that's come in third behind Microsoft and Oracle in recent years. IBM's overall score was 71.7, up from 66.6 last year. IBM's biggest scores came in the product innovation arena, especially in product quality and reliability.

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

CEO: Eugene Kaspersky

Kaspersky and Sophos have been battling in this category, with Kaspersky winning the top score in 2012 and Sophos winning in 2011. This year Kaspersky won the crown with an overall score of 87.0, several points more than Sophos and ahead of Trend Micro, McAfee and Symantec. While Kaspersky swept the product innovation, support and partnership categories this year, Sophos scored higher in several specific criteria such as product quality and reliability, and in post-sales support. So the battle between the two remains close.

Collaboration Software: Microsoft

CEO: Steve Ballmer

Microsoft was this year's winner in collaboration software, sweeping the category and beating out rival IBM for the second year. Microsoft's overall score was 67.7, however, down from last year's 71.4. (IBM's score also declined several points year-over-year.) Microsoft far outscored IBM in several criteria, including product marketability and ease of doing business, but IBM beat Microsoft in the all-important criterion of managing channel conflict.

Converged Infrastructure Systems: Cisco

CEO: John Chambers

Converged infrastructure is a hot area right now and solution providers, by a significant margin, saw Cisco as the leader in this new product category. Cisco swept the partner voting with top scores in product innovation, support and partnership, and beat out competitors Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM with an overall score of 82.0. But this is still a young, dynamic technology area, so Cisco can't rest on its laurels.

Data & Information Management: Oracle

CEO: Larry Ellison

Oracle has battled with Microsoft (the 2012 ARC winner) and IBM (the 2011 winner) in this category. This year Oracle came back out on top, sweeping the category and narrowly beating Microsoft in overall scores of 67.9 to 67.3. Oracle just began shipping the Oracle Database 12c, the next generation of the company's flagship product, in July. That may have been too late to impact Oracle's product innovation scores, in which Oracle edged out Microsoft 78.9 to 77.6.

Enterprise Network Storage: EMC

CEO: Joe Tucci

This was another category sweep for EMC, taking the top scores in product innovation, support and partnership against competitors NetApp, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle. EMC also won this product category in 2012 and 2011. Most impressive was EMC's score of 105.0 for product quality and reliability -- the highest score earned by any vendor, in any product category, for any criteria.

Enterprise Networking Infrastructure: Cisco

CEO: John Chambers

Cisco won this product category with an overall score of 83.7. But this was one product category where Cisco failed to sweep its competitors: Juniper Networks outscored Cisco for partnership 82.3 to 80.9. Juniper Networks won this product category hands-down in 2011, but Cisco came back last year to win by a healthy margin.

Flat Panel Displays 19-Inch To 30-Inch: Samsung

CEO: Kwon Oh Hyun

The competition between Samsung and NEC is always tight in this product category, and this year was no different. Samsung eked out a victory with an overall score of 79.9 to NEC's 79.5. What's more, Samsung didn't sweep every criterion in the survey. While it scored highest in product innovation (85.7 to NEC's 83.8), NEC won in partnership (80.5 to Samsung's 79.8) and the two were in a dead heat in support with scores of 73.0.

Multifunction Printers: Xerox

CEO: Ursula Burns

This product category was another close one with Xerox narrowly beating Hewlet-Packard in overall scores 78.0 to 77.6. Xerox won this category in 2011 and 2012 -- handily last year -- against HP and other competitors such as Lexmark and Samsung. This year Xerox scored highest in partnership and support. But HP won the partner scoring for product innovation (87.2 to 84.9).

Network Security Appliances: Fortinet

CEO: Ken Xie

The Network Security Appliances category is always one of the most competitive product areas in the CRN Annual Report Card, and this year was no different. This year Fortinet was the overall winner with an 84.4 score, less than 1 point ahead of second-place Trend Micro (83.6). And Sophos, which came in third overall (82.7), outscored all competitors in product innovation. SonicWall took overall first place in 2011 while Cisco and SonicWall tied for first place last year. In both cases Fortinet came in second.

Network Security Software: Kaspersky Lab

CEO: Eugene Kaspersky

Kaspersky Lab decisively won in this product category, sweeping all criteria (product innovation, support and partnership), and outscoring its nearest competitors by a significant margin. Kaspersky Lab, which came in second to RSA last year, recorded an overall score of 88.5 this year while second-place Trend Micro scored 82.6 and third-place RSA scored 79.3.

Notebooks/Mobile Computers: Lenovo

CEO: Yang Yuanqing

For the past couple of years Hewlett-Packard has scored highest in our Annual Report Card partner survey in the Notebooks/Mobile Computers product category. But this year Lenovo, the perennial runner-up, came out on top against HP and other competitors including Samsung, Dell and Panasonic. Lenovo, in fact, outscored second-place HP by more than 10 points with its overall score of 85.1. And Lenovo swept the competition by scoring highest across the product innovation, support and partnership criteria, also by impressive margins.

Desktop & Server Virtualization: VMware

CEO: Pat Gelsinger

VMware has come out on top of the Annual Report Card scoring in this product category in recent years, often by a healthy margin, and the company repeated that performance in 2013 with an overall score of 75.7. This year VMware outscored rivals Citrix, Microsoft and Oracle, and swept the product innovation, support and partnership categories. While VMware was once the undisputed leader in the virtualization arena, other vendors -- Microsoft in particular -- have been challenging the company in its core server virtualization business and in developing markets like desktop virtualization. And with vendors like Cisco and Brocade jumping into the emerging area of network virtualization, the battle will become even more widespread.

Networking Hardware (SMB): Ruckus Wireless

CEO: Selina Lo

Ruckus Wireless won this category in 2011, but was beaten last year by Cisco by 0.1 of a point. This year Ruckus reclaimed the top spot, and by a significant margin, in a crowded field of competitors. Ruckus Wireless tallied an overall score of 87.1, significantly ahead of second-place Cisco's 81.2. Ruckus also swept the product innovation, support and partnership categories, decisively defeating Cisco, Adtran, Emerson Network Power, D-Link and Dell SonicWall.

SMB Network Storage: Buffalo Technology

CEO: Hajime Nakai

This is a product category that EMC has won handily each year. But in 2012 the category champion found itself challenged by Buffalo Technology, which took second place. This year Buffalo usurped EMC's dominance, beating the storage system giant by nearly 2 points with an overall score of 86.1. But it wasn't a clean sweep for Buffalo. While the upstart outscored EMC and other competitors such as Dell, D-Link and Hewlett-Packard in support and partnership, EMC retained its lead in product innovation with a 91.8 score to Buffalo's 90.4.

Unified Communications: Cisco

CEO: John Chambers

Among solution providers, Cisco is a clear leader in unified communications with a range of offerings and a level of support that puts its partners at the top of their game. The company has won the category every year since it was introduced to the Annual Report Card survey in 2005.

Cisco ran uncontested in the category this year and was therefore named the Unified Communications category winner for 2013's Annual Report Card.

Volume Servers: Dell

CEO: Michael Dell

Dell took the top spot in this product category with an overall score of 70.9 versus Hewlett-Packard's 69.1. But this was the only product category in this year's Annual Report Card survey in which the highest scores for product innovation, support and partnership went to three different companies. HP generated the highest score for product innovation, beating second-place Dell 80.1 to 79.6. But Dell came out on top in support with a score of 64.2 to second-place Lenovo's 61.6. And Lenovo generated the highest score for partnership, 70.1, handily beating Dell's 68.3.

Workgroup Color Printers: Xerox

CEO: Ursula Burns

Xerox has led this product category in past Annual Report Card rankings and this year was no exception. Xerox's overall score of 71.3 beat rival HP and its 70.0 overall score. Xerox also racked up the highest scores for support (67.5) and partnership (68.1). But HP outscored Xerox in product innovation, 79.4 to 78.1, denying Xerox a clean sweep of the Workgroup Color Printer category.