5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

For the week ending April 12, CRN takes a look at the companies that brought their ‘A’ game to the channel including Google Cloud, Intel, Wiz, Zscaler, Lumen Technologies and startup solution provider Ensemble AI.

The Week Ending April 12

Topping this week’s Came to Win is Google Cloud which used this week’s Google Next 2024 event to showcase a wave of new technology offerings – especially in the red-hot AI space.

Also making this week’s list is Intel, which used its own Intel Vision event to preview its upcoming Gaudi 3 AI accelerator chip and the next generation of Xeon server CPUs. Cybersecurity companies Wiz and Zscaler are both on the list for making savvy acquisitions to expand their technology leads. And Lumen Technologies scored a major government contract to transform a U.S. government agency’s network, data, voice and video connectivity.

Solution provider startup Ensemble AI wins kudos for its plans to develop and provide professional services aimed at helping enterprises deploy and adopt advanced analytics, machine learning and AI.

Google Cloud Next: Big AI, Workspace, Nvidia And Arm Launches

Google Cloud used its Google Cloud Next 2024 event this week as the launchpad for a slew of new product offerings and partner initiatives – many focused on the cloud giant’s AI technologies.

Some of the biggest unveilings were around Google Gemini, Google Cloud’s family of GenAI models, including the Gemini 1.5 Pro edition, Gemini 1.5 Pro on Vertex AI, Gemini Code Assist for Google Cloud, Gemini in Threat Intelligence, Gemini Cloud Assist, Gemini in BigQuery, Gemini in Looker, and Gemini in Security Command Center.

Google debuted Google Axion, the company’s first-ever custom Arm-based CPU designed for the data center. The company said the general-purpose compute chip delivers up to 50 percent better performance and 60 percent better efficiency than comparable x86-based processors.

Google also said Nvidia’s newest Grace Blackwell processors will be coming to Google Cloud in early 2025. And the two companies have developed a new A3 mega instance that leverages Nvidia’s H100 GPUs.

Other product announcements included a new Vertex AI Agent Builder, along with new machine learning operations (MLOps) capabilities and a variety of new AI models for Vertex AI. Google Cloud also injected new Gemini AI features into its Workspace cloud software including the new Google Vids AI-powered video creation application, along with the ability to transcribe and take notes during meetings and translate captions and messages.

Google also used the Google Cloud Next event to debut a number of new AI-related initiatives and partner program enhancements for its channel partners including a new generative AI specialization and new AI delivery bootcamps for solution providers.

Intel Previews Upcoming Xeon 6, Gaudi 3 AI Chips

Google Cloud wasn’t the only company showing off its advanced technology this week. Intel, which held its Intel Vision event, gave attendees a look at its upcoming Gaudi 3 AI accelerator chip and the next generation of Xeon server CPUs.

Intel said the Gaudi 3 AI can beat Nvidia’s powerful H100 GPU for training large language models and offer similar or, in some cases, better performance than the rival’s memory-rich H200 for large language model inferencing.

Intel is hoping Gaudi 3, the successor to Intel’s Gaudi 2 from 2022, will give it a major boost in competition against Nvidia and its domination of the AI computing space with its GPUs. Intel said air-cooled and liquid-cooled versions of the Gaudi 3 accelerator card will start sampling with customers in the first and second quarters of this year, respectively.

Intel said the next wave of Xeon server CPUs, dubbed the Intel Xeon 6, will offer two microarchitecture options with processors containing either a performance core (P-core) or an efficient core (E-core). Both are due for release in the coming months.

While the Xeon 6 processors with P-cores are optimized to deliver performance for compute-intensive and AI workloads, Xeon CPUs with E-cores are optimized to deliver efficiency for high-density and scale-out workloads. Both can handle general-purpose work.

Wiz, Zscaler Buy Startups In Strategic Acquisitions

Cybersecurity providers Wiz and Zscaler both make this week’s Came to Win list after making strategic acquisitions that will bolster their technology portfolios.

On Wednesday Wiz, the fast-growing cloud security technology developer, said it had acquired New York-based startup Gem Security, a provider of real-time cloud detection and response (CDR). The move was seen as part of Wiz’s efforts to bolster the detection and response capabilities of its own cloud security platform.

The acquisition is Wiz’s second after the December purchase of cloud developer collaboration startup Rafft. The price of the Gem Security deal was not disclosed although CRN reported that it was in the neighborhood of $350 million.

On Thursday Zscaler said it had struck a deal to acquire Airgap Networks, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based developer of network access and segmentation technologies that adhere to principles of “zero trust” security. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Zscaler said Airgap’s agentless segmentation capabilities will now be integrated with the Zscaler Zero Trust SD-WAN offering.

Lumen Technologies Wins $73.6M Managed Network Services Contract With U.S. GAO

Lumen Technologies this week snagged a $73.6 million contract to transform the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s network, data, voice and video connectivity.

Under the contract Lumen will provide secure managed network services, virtual private network services, ethernet transport services, internet protocol services, videoconferencing services, and voice and toll-free services to the GAO, the audit, evaluation and investigative arm of Congress.

Monroe, La.-based Lumen has been attempting to evolve its once telecom-focused business to zero in on more strategic service opportunities, including network as a service (NaaS). The company’s strategy has been playing well with government customers and has netted the company a handful of large contracts with various U.S. government agencies in recent years.

Other large government customer wins for Lumen include a $1.2 billion network services deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $1.6 billion network services award win from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Ensemble AI: Two Of The Most Successful AWS Cloud Pioneers Are Starting A New AI-Focused Solution Provider

Two of the most successful born-in-the-cloud Amazon Web Services (AWS) solution provider entrepreneurs are teaming up to tackle the blockbuster AI opportunity with a new company called Ensemble AI.

The London-based cloud duo, Benjamin Wootton, co-founder and CTO of Contino, a one-time AWS Premier Partner that was sold to Cognizant in 2019; and Pontus Noren, co-founder of Cloudreach, an AWS Premier Partner sold to Atos in 2021, are looking to strike gold once again with their new professional services venture aimed at helping enterprises deploy and adopt advanced analytics, machine learning and AI.

In an interview with CRN, Ensemble CEO Noren and CTO Wootton said the AI opportunity is “magnitudes bigger” than was the cloud computing revolution sparked by AWS.

“The addressable market for AWS might have been half a trillion dollars,” Noren said. “AI goes beyond IT and infrastructure. The opportunity overall in AI is touching every industry, every type of business of every size. It is the opportunity to retool all businesses out there of every size with AI, teaching them how to do it and where to do it.”

Noren said Ensemble’s focus is squarely on helping enterprise customers “make this transition into this new world” of AI business solutions. “We believe they are going to need skills, people, thinking, etc., to make the transition,” he said. “That is the opportunity we see.”