2013 Best Companies: Who's Up And Who's Down

Changes In The Ranks

This being the third annual Best Companies To Partner With project, many vendors rose in the rankings while others fell. Microsoft, which was No. 2 last year, captured the top spot this year while Cisco, last year's No. 1, moved to No. 2. Other companies moved up or down a spot or two: Lenovo, for example, moved up to No. 8 from No. 10 in 2012.

But the rankings of a handful of companies changed significantly this year compared to 2012. Here's a look at the IT vendors whose ranking changed by five spots or more.


CEO: Joseph Tucci

EMC moved up to No. 5 on this year's Best Companies To Partner With list, up from its No. 10 ranking last year.

This year the company unveiled plans to overhaul its Velocity partner program to put greater emphasis on cloud computing and big data.

On the technology front, EMC took big technology leaps when it launched its second-generation VNX storage array in September and its first all-flash storage array in November. Earlier in the year, the company hired former Symantec and Oracle executive Chirantan "CJ" Desai to head up EMC's new Emerging Technology Products Division.


CEO: Mark Templeton

Citrix is No. 12 on this year's Best Companies To Partner With list, moving up an impressive six spots from No. 18 last year.

In May Citrix unveiled a significant overhaul of its partner program that increased the sales requirements for its gold- and platinum-level partners. The move, motivated by the changing economics of cloud computing, was part of a broader campaign to focus more on higher-value partners.

Citrix made a bold play in June when it moved its XenServer virtualization technology to the open-source community and said the company would focus its business on providing management and support services. The company also signaled its intention to focus on the hot mobile market with its XenMobile launch.

APC by Schneider Electric

CEO: Jean-Pascal Tricoire

APC by Schneider Electric is No. 13 on this year's Best Companies To Partner With ranking, a whopping gain of 9 spots from No. 22 last year.

APC is a 20-year CRN Channel Champion and longtime channel favorite. In September, the company introduced a new channel program aimed at helping solution providers conduct energy assessments for their customers.

The company has benefited from growing demand for energy management technologies as businesses look to cut costs around data center cooling, space and power consumption. About 75 percent of APC Americas' business is concentrated in the data center.


CEO: Virginia Rometty

IBM is No. 14 on this year's Best Companies To Partner With list, down five spots from No. 9 last year.

This year, IBM has sought to boost sales of the company's Systems and Technology Group products, primarily server and storage hardware, through the channel. At the PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in February, channel execs noted that in 2012 the channel accounted for 53 percent of STG revenue, down two points from 2011. Channel execs also outlined plans to boost partner incentives for STG sales and devote more resources to assisting partners and generating sales leads.

Bill Donohue, IBM's channel chief, retired in August and the company is seeking a permanent replacement.


CEO: Tim Cook

Apple is No. 17 on this year's Best Companies To Partner With list, down five spots from No. 12 last year.

The biggest news on the Apple front this year was the launch of the next generations of the vendor's key products, the iPhone 5C and 5S and the iPad Air.

Apple is facing increased competition from Android-based devices. But the consensus among partners at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in June was that the company still had its A-game going. Partners also see iOS 7, the new release of Apple's mobile operating system, providing more opportunities for expansion into commercial markets.


CEO: Larry Page

Google is No. 21 on this year's Best Companies To Partner With list, down eight spots from No. 13 last year.

While most of Google's revenue still comes from ads around its search business, this year the company signaled it was stepping up investment in its enterprise products, including productivity apps like Google Docs, the Google Search Appliance, and the Google Cloud Platform. And bucking the PC slump, sales of Google Chromebooks grew to represent 25 percent of the U.S. market for laptops under $300.


President: Michael DeCesare

McAfee is No. 24 on this year's Best Companies To Partner With list, down five spots from No. 19 last year.

Earlier this month, former McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt, now CEO of FireEye, criticized his old company by saying its technology is "outdated" and used a "flawed" approach to addressing advanced threats.

On the positive side, McAfee executives last month announced new partner incentives and support initiatives to help solution providers expand into growth areas such as security analytics and advanced malware detection. Earlier in the year, the company refreshed its endpoint security platform in a move partners said created new opportunities for the channel.