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Every year, Channel Insider conducts a Market Pulse survey that gauges the state of the industry through the eyes of the channel. We ask questions that look back over the year just ended – oh, and what a fun year 2009 was right? – and solicit predictions and projections for the year ahead.

Some of the more interesting responses from our just wrapped 2010 survey were prompted by the questions we asked about technology vendors. Never shy, solution providers don’t pull punches nor restrain praise when it comes to the vendors that they love and hate – sometimes, as we found, simultaneously. Our top story on this week is in a sense the functional equivalent of the celebrity death watch list and reflects that level of candor.

We asked, “Which 3 vendors are most likely to be acquired or to go out of business before the end of 2010?”
The Top Vote Getters: Sun, Novell, Check Point, NetApp, CA, Juniper, McAfee,, VMware, Xerox,  Citrix, AMD, Symantec

Now these are just predictions, with the obvious exception of Sun that is now a bona fide reality. But despite being speculative in nature, the insights are not random. After all, the channel is in the trenches with these vendors on a daily basis. And so while not set-in-stone predictors of M&As, the responses to this question serve as a barometer of how the channel perceives the health, performance and viability of the technology manufacturers they work with.

Our Market Pulse results plainly capture the channel’s overall mood when it comes to their vendors. One of the unfortunate impacts of the recession has been the fear – almost a resignation — that vendors will take steps to keep their businesses ahead of the downturn that don’t necessarily have the channel’s best interests at heart. 

When asked what vendors they believed would compromise the channel in 2010 in order to further their own business goals, the respondents tapped Dell, Microsoft, HP, Cisco and Sun. Of that group, Sun will indeed compromise some of its channel this year based on Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s announced plans to hand over the top 4,000 Sun accounts to his direct sales team.

Meanwhile, and here’s the interesting part, the same respondents predicting compromising behavior still showed lots of faith in those vendors. When asked which vendors will produce the best products, generate the most interest and open up sales opportunities that drive revenue and profits for their channel partners in 2010, the solution providers included Microsoft, Cisco and HP in that group. Funny no?

So over the next couple of weeks, we will be delving deeper into the results of the Channel Insider Market Pulse study for 2010. Check back at for more content and analysis.