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1Top 10 Technology Rainmakers

The economy is beginning to show signs of life, but it’s far from being healthy or robust. Channel Insider asked solution providers which vendors will drive the most customer interest in their products and revenues for their partners. In these tough times, these vendors were voted as the top rainmakers.By Lawrence M. Walsh

210. Dell

Sure, Dell is hurting. PC sales are down. Server sales are down. And it’s under increasing pressure from Hewlett-Packard and Cisco. But don’t count Dell out of the picture just yet. Dell is launching a slew of new products ranging from consumer notebooks to high-performing desktops to new storage solutions to enterprise-class services. And Dell is leveraging distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data to generate business for its channel partners. The new found love for distribution should translate into many rainmaking opportunities for partners.

39. Apple

iPhone, iPhone and iPhone. Apple’s brand is unmistakably connected to the handheld device that many consider more of a client than a cell phone. A new report shows Apple’s app store for the iPhone is driving the way consumers are buying smartphones; and that same app store is creating opportunities for developers. All of this is adding up to integration and support opportunities delivered by solution providers (even if there’s no formal Apple channel program). So long as the iPhone remains hot, Apple should remain a rainmaker.

48. Linux/Open Source

OK, Linux and open source software isn’t a vendor, but it is a movement. Since the economy unraveled, businesses large and small have been exploring the value open source platforms (server operating systems, client and desktop OSes, and open source applications). Dell has released netbooks and notebooks running Linux, and Novell has released a significant update to its SuSE Linux Enterprise server OS. Open source is so hot there are rumors that Oracle may be interested in buying Red Hat.

57. Intel

Intel is seeing sales sink as desktop and notebook sales fall off a cliff. Intel believes that its vPro technology will reduce management complexity and costs, so it’s putting a lot of effort behind getting people to buy into the vPro philosophy (and that means refreshing clients). Intel is a driving force in marketing, and remains committed to getting the market excited about its products.

66. Cisco Systems

Unless you’re living under a rack, you couldn’t miss the recent Cisco publicity blitz about its unified computing architecture, better known as its virtualized blades strategy. Cisco’s data center ambition is among one of Silicon Valley’s worst kept secrets. Expect Cisco to keep pressing its unified computing ideas, supporting partners that are driving business and getting end users excited about its blade servers, telepresence technologies and physical security initiatives. Cisco’s got a lot to say, giving it a big voice among the rainmakers.

75. Google

You don’t have to google Google to understand what they do. That’s the big benefit. Google is now a force in the IT channel, selling its famed Google Apps through solution providers. Its adoption of semantic search and enhanced search returns may provide solution providers with even more targeted online marketing tools. Bottom line: so long as Google continues being what it is—a marketing force of nature and the first stop on many Web users’ digital journeys—it will remain a business driver for solution providers.

84. VMware

Talk about a vendor on everyone’s dance card. VMware is the driving force behind the virtualization movement. Cisco was quick to lock VMware into its unified computing strategy, and VMware is the software vendor of choice of other server OEMs, including Dell and HP. VMware is making every effort to stay in the forefront of the virtualization movement, providing support and solutions for everything from the data center to the desktop.

93. IBM

Big Blue no longer holds the title of the world’s largest technology company, but that really doesn’t matter. No one gets fired for buying IBM solutions and services, and IBM is showing signs that it intends to compete hard for its share of the technology marketplace. Its rumored acquisition of Sun Microsystems will solidify its leadership position in servers and it’s pushing its own virtualized data center initiatives. And its smart infrastructure concept has the potential for creating numerous partner opportunities.

102. Hewlett-Packard

In the four years under CEO Mark Hurd, HP has transformed itself from a lumbering giant to the driving force of the IT industry. With its acquisition of EDS, HP is now firmly in the position of the world’s largest technology company (in terms of revenue), the largest supplier of printers and personal computers, and holds the second largest share in the server market. And HP’s Proliant networking division looks as though it’s going to take a run at Cisco’s market. HP designed its partner program to maximize sales; with HP’s size, brand presence and channel reach, it will continue to be a big rainmaker.

111. Microsoft

All software roads lead to Redmond, and despite its challenges Microsoft remains the dominant player in the software marketplace and a growing presence in the services market. Microsoft’s "Software+Services" strategy is showing signs of life with the unveiling of Exchange and SharePoint hosted services. Its Dynamics applications are picking up steam among ISVs. And Microsoft is rapidly becoming a force in security, voice communications and virtualization. When end users talk standards-based deployments, they’re typically talking about standardizing on Windows machines. No one invests more in their partners’ success than Microsoft, which puts it squarely at the top of the rainmakers list.