Are you a reseller or VAR?
Do you buy your IT from resellers or VARs?
Or are you like me, and fascinated in independent comparisons of different vendors?
Then read on -- I've got a ton of useful data for you with some interesting conclusions.
What's This All About?
CRN/VARbusiness just published their 28th Annual Report Card (ARC) for different categories of vendors.
EMC completely dominated in two categories: network storage and storage management software. Usually, different vendors have different strengths, but not this time.
The people conducting the survey told us they'd never seen such a complete and differentiated preference -- in any category -- in recent memory. They said they were amazed, to put it mildly.
Although there's a fair amount of justifiable pride in this latest accomplishment, I think there's more to the story than meets the eye -- and has direct implications for larger consumers of IT as well.
First, resellers and VARs get to see it all. Everyone wants their business, but not everyone earns it. They're directly familiar in a hands-on way with products, support, pricing, etc.
Second, the ARC methodology is no slouch. Look at sample size, qualifying questions, how vendors are selected. This is most definitely not one of those "pay to play" deals we see so often in the industry.
Others who are contemplating industry surveys would be well served to look at the ARC process.
Third, we get a sense for what's ahead: the survey captures sentiments about "loyalty" and "future prospects" that paint a picture of what they see coming in the future from various vendors.
So, let's dig in, and see what we can learn?
Let's start with "what's important" for this audience, captured well on this slide here:
Notice how "quality and reliability" jumps to the top of the list. And how "compatibility and ease of integration" makes the #3 spot.
Just a note on interpreting this graph: the darker red speaks to the "product innovation" cluster, the pinkish color speaks to the "partnership" cluster, and the grey speaks to the "support" cluster.
If we look closer at the "Product Innovation" scores, here's the picture:
As you can see, EMC outscored the next closest vendor (Netapp) by a considerably significant margin.
Now let's look at the "support" category, which includes both pre- and post-sales:
Once again, EMC comes out on top. Once again, EMC outscored the next closest competitor (again, Netapp) by a considerable margin.
Yes, there's a pattern here. We're just getting started, folks.
Next up, the "partnership" category. This is all the ease-of-doing-business stuff, including the all-important "managing channel conflict".
Yes, I'm starting to sound like a broken record. Once again, EMC is on top. Once again, we're ahead of the next-closest competitor by a good margin.
If we stack things up, a predictable picture emerges with an interesting conclusion:
Note how the two storage specialists (EMC and Netapp) are above average, and all of the more traditional server/storage vendors are below average? I see this as a bit of confirmation of my premise that the server guys really aren't all that serious about storage.
If we look at each individual sub-category behind the big three, an even more compelling picture emerges:
Yep, you're reading this correctly.
EMC was #1 in each and every subcategory that VARbusiness surveyed for "Network Storage".
So, there shouldnt' be too much surprise about who won the overall award:
So much for storage hardware. There's more in the big download if you're interested.
Now, let's move on to storage management software ...
Storage Management Software
Actually, it's more than just management software -- this category include data protection, remote replication as well as storage virtualization.
The finalists were a slightly different bunch: CA, EMC, HP, IBM/Tivoli and Symanted/Veritas. Some of the vendors who made finalist in the hardware category didn't make it to finalist in this category (e.g. Sun, Netapp).
Once, again, let's start with what's important to this audience:
If you compare with the previous results, you'll see that it's a different ranking of subcategories, and the "quality and reliability" aspect is much more pronounced than before (counterintuitive to me, but there you have it).
If we take a look at "product innovation" as before, here's the view:
Yes, EMC came out ahead, and by a more pronounced margin than before.
What's surprsing to me is that the server guys (HP and IBM) did better in this software category than the ostensibly software-focused vendors (CA and Symantec/Veritas). But if you look at the averages, it's not by all that much -- one could say that (except for Symatec) they're all running in the same league.
Now let's look at support. Not an especially pretty picture: we all seem to have room for improvement in this category, don't we?
Yes, EMC came out head, and by quite a large margin, but compared to the 90's and 100's we got in other categories, this is a sign of more work to do, rather than a cause for celebration.
I suppose we could take some solace in that we're not as bad as the other guys, though. And our friends at Symantec/Veritas have their work cut out for them, don't they?
And, finally, there's the "partnership" angle as well:
I know, this is getting repetitive, but it's rare that we see such fine-grained qualitative surveys, so I think it's worth the time to keep going along here.
Now, for a small surprise -- check out the overall scores:
Simply put, EMC is wrecking the grading curve in this class. But, at the same time, the overall scores are lower (as an industry) so we all have some hard work to do.
Especially you, Symantec ...
If we do the breakdown of each subcategory as before, here's what we get:
Yep, once again, EMC sweeps each and every subcategory.
Which leads to the inevitable award results:
And, with that, you'll have to get the rest of the gory details here.
What Does All Of This Mean?
Well, I've been at EMC a long time, and I never, ever imagined I'd be looking at results like this, given our long and challenged history with channel partners.
Congratulations are certainly in order for the EMC team(s) that took on this challenge to make us #1 in the value-added channel world, and appear to have done an exceptional job indeed.
But a heartfelt "thank you" is in order for all the EMC partners who helped us get there. You were patient with us when we were figuring all of this out. You told us (in detail!) what was working, and what was not. As we got good at one thing or another, you pointed us to the next thing to focus on.
We hear many interpretations of the word "partner", in this regard, you all were truly partners.
Even if you don't buy your IT from value-added partners, there's something in this for you as well. What you're seeing is a survey from professional IT people who make a living doing this. Sure, not every category applies to your situation, but it's strongly indicative of what you're likely to see.
Finally, despite our progress here, certain areas jump out as logical areas for additional focus.
And, if you work for an EMC competitor, you clearly have your work cut out for you here.
May I make a suggestion? Investing in winning this sort of competition makes so much more sense than parading the latest SPC benchmarketing results, or paying some "independent analyst" to flog your latest message, or cooking up useless "guarantees".
Winning at this sort of competition is hard, gritty process work from end-to-end. We're not done demanding the very best from ourselves, and you shouldn't be, either!
Courteous comments always welcome ...