Cisco, HP and Microsoft triumph at Channel Champions Awards

Cisco Systems came out ahead in this year's CRN Channel Champions survey by winning overall Channel Champions distinction for enterprise networking hardware, small and medium-sized business (SMB) networking hardware, unified communications/Voice over Internet Protocol, videoconferencing and network security appliances. Its channel partners praised its pre- and post-sales support, product quality and reliability, and the interoperability of its product lines, CRN reports.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Microsoft tied for second place, each winning four product categories. HP won SMB network storage, systems and network management, volume servers and workgroup color printers, and solution providers gave the company its highest margins of victory in pre- and post-sales support, product reliability and quality. Microsoft won business intelligence, collaboration software and data and information management, as well as the new cloud applications category, which was introduced this year. IBM placed third and was awarded distinctions for middleware, mid-range servers and backup and recovery software. CRN also reports that channel partners cited their approval of its competitive pricing.

The survey – which is now in its 21st year – asks solution providers to grade their information technology vendors in a number of product areas on multiple criteria within three subcategories centering on support satisfaction, technical satisfaction and financial factors. This year, 102 vendors were rated across 26 product categories.

"The Channel Champions award recognizes the most innovative, reliable and channel-friendly vendors, as voted on by solution providers," said Kelley Damore, vice president and executive director of CRN. "These awards recognize vendors whose technological innovation and product quality has surpassed the competition, helping to drive increased revenue for their channel partners."

Other notable wins include storage and data management company NetApp, which won the enterprise network storage market category after placing fifth in 2010, and virtualization software provider VMware, which swept the server virtualization category by scoring highest in all criteria. The company credited its close relationship with its Partner Advisory Council and the changes it has made based on its members' feedback for its channel success.

In the past year, the company has worked to grow market pathways by leveraging partners and driving business efficiencies. Infrastructure software provider Novell, which placed fifth in the network security software category last year, also rose to take the title in 2011.

"We are especially proud of this award since the voting was done by solution providers," said John Dragoon, senior vice president, chief marketing officers and channel chief at Novell.