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The channel is nothing if not opinionated.

Sure, a critical mass of VARs agreed sufficiently to sort out the Channel Insider Product of the Year Awards, but that doesn’t mean solution providers around the country aren’t harboring feelings about the winners, the losers and even the products that didn’t make the list at all.

While he was glad to see that Symantec and SonicWall make the cut, Lester Keizer, CEO of Ron Cook’s Connecting Point Technology Center, in Las Vegas, says he was "really surprised to see that Xerox was not on the list.  They put out a superior product, I like their ‘going green philosophy’ and their products are fitting very well into our MSP space."

Keizer also expressed surprise that Compellent, which he says is a very strong channel-only company, was not mentioned in the Storage Management category—an area of growing importance in IT.

"How a manufacturer reacts when situations arise shows the true mettle of the organization," he says. "In 25 years in this industry we have never seen an organization do what Compellent has done for us in order to deliver on its promises—starting with the CEO Phil Soran on down to their service technicians. I doubt that [Mark] Hurd from HP would have given me a call back."

Keizer suggests that Channel Insider add a category for channel-only vendors.

"VARs really like to do business with companies that do not create conflict in an already conflicted marketplace," he said.

Keizer says he was also interested to see that Novell’s SUSE was gaining traction in the channel. 

However, Doug Ford, CEO of San Diego-based The I.T. Pros, notes that the server operating system winners, Red Hat, Sun and SUSE, left out one very notable product—Windows.

Ford points out that research company IDC in 2002 said that Windows Server held more than 50 percent of the OS market share, and that number has been on the rise versus Linux according to this eWEEK news story about operating system market share.

Ford found those server operating system results, nominated and chosen by his peers, incongruent with his own experience in the market.

"The I.T. Pros has been a Microsoft Gold partner for years. Before that, we were a Certified Partner. Before that, I was an end-user," he says. "Microsoft is a big company, but their support is superb. If ever I am truly stuck on a technical issue I can sit on the phone for as long as I need to until the problem is solved."

Stuart Raburn of Teklinks, in Homewood, Ala., says he agrees with the merit of most of the winners.

"Certainly MS SQL 2005 and Exchange 2007 stand out as extremely well-developed, mature products," he says. For "desktops and servers—it’s hard to beat Dell.  They’re our standard and provide great products with good pricing and features and are especially leading with energy-efficient servers."

Raburn also likes the Lenovo X300 for laptops: "it’s just a cut above everything else on the market with the solid state hard drive, light weight, dual batteries without any sacrifice in quality."

For a multifunction printer, Raburn likes the Dell 3115cn.  "It’s rock solid, cheap and filled with features."

The big shocker for Raburn?  "I was surprised to see Novell for desktops," he says. "I’m not sure I know anyone who would run it for their desktop. Certainly Windows and Red Hat win the category, but the Mac certainly deserves a solid third place and is increasingly part of corporate networks."