Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

For the week ending June 28, CRN takes a look at the companies that brought their ‘A’ game to the channel including OpenAI, NinjaOne, ClearML, Nokia, Carahsoft and Nvidia.

The Week Ending June 28

Topping this week’s Came to Win list is generative AI pioneer OpenAI for its savvy acquisition of Rockset and its technology that will make it easier to bring outside data into GenAI large language models.

Also making this week’s list are NinjaOne for launching its first official partner program, communications giant Nokia for a major acquisition in the optical networking space, Carahsoft and ClearML for a deal that will bring ClearML’s MLOps technology to state and federal government customers, and Nvidia for a key hire that will support the chip designer’s startup ecosystem.

OpenAI Looks To Boost Data Retrieval Capabilities Of Its GenAI Technology With Rockset Acquisition

Generational AI pioneer OpenAI has acquired search and analytical database developer Rockset and will leverage the technology to help users of OpenAI’s software “better leverage their own data” for AI tasks.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other software have exploded in popularity over the last two years and triggered a wave of AI development across the IT industry. But businesses have faced the challenge of getting their organization’s own data into generative AI systems, limiting their effectiveness for business tasks.

The Rockset technology will be used to “power the retrieval infrastructure backing OpenAI’s product suite,” Rockset CEO Venkat Venkataramani said in a blog post. “Advanced retrieval infrastructure like Rockset will make AI apps more powerful and useful.”

By utilizing the Rockset technology, including its real-time data processing, streaming data ingestion and vector search capabilities, OpenAI will boost the data retrieval functionality of the OpenAI product suite, which in turn will improve the usefulness and accuracy of the GenAI software’s output.

NinjaOne Debuts First Formal Partner Program As Security Push Expands

NinjaOne wins applause this week for launching its first formal channel program. The move comes as the company looks to shift into a new phase of growth through partners, including VARs with a greater focus on cybersecurity, according to channel chief Joe Lohmeier.

The new NinjaOne Now arrives as the vendor aims to accelerate its growth in security, in part through working with a greater number of VARs in addition to the company’s longtime base of MSP partners, said Lohmeier, vice president of worldwide channel sales at NinjaOne.

The new program “prioritizes partner advancement” and incentivizes the sale of products beyond the company’s core offerings. In recent years, Lohmeier said, NinjaOne has gone from “an MSP-only product to a true platform for MSPs and value-added resellers,” the latter of which will be a major focus of the new program.

The NinjaOne Now program includes a new partner portal, deal registration, training and enablement and other benefits. In terms of incentives, the program provides the same level of margin to partners for renewal opportunities as for new business, Lohmeier said.

Nokia To Buy Infinera In $2B Deal To Expand Optical Networking Business

Finland-based telecommunications giant Nokia makes this week’s list for its move to acquire San Jose, Calif.-based Infinera for $2 billion in a deal that will allow Nokia to expand its presence in the North American optical networking space.

Nokia says the acquisition, expected to be completed later this year, will increase the overall scale of its optical networks business by 75 percent. Infinera CEO David Heard said optics are increasingly important across telecom networks, between inter-data center applications and even inside data centers.

Nokia already has strong positions in optical networking in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East while 60 percent of Infinera’s sales are in North America. Infinera reported fiscal 2023 revenue of $1.6 billion.

Nokia also announced a deal to sell its Alcatel Submarine Networks business to the French government for approximately $375 million.

ClearML Allies With Carahsoft To Provide Its MLOps Platform To Government Agencies

ClearML this week struck a deal with government solutions provider Carahsoft Technology through which Carahsoft will distribute ClearML’s AI and machine learning platform to federal and state government agencies through Carahsoft’s reseller network and government contracts.

Executives at the two companies said the alliance will boost ClearML’s presence in the public sector and help government agencies adopt an AI/ML solution that addresses their needs for machine learning operations (MLOps) and generative AI technology.

“Our partnership with ClearML reflects our dedication to providing cutting-edge AI and ML solutions for government agencies,” Michael Adams, Carahsoft program executive for AI solutions, said in a statement. “By leveraging ClearML’s capabilities across our reseller network, we’re equipping government entities to operate more efficiently and effectively in the digital age.”

ClearML, based in San Francisco, provides what it calls an “end-to-end platform for continuous machine learning.” The MLOps platform includes a comprehensive portfolio of tools used by data scientists, data engineers, DevOps managers, machine learning engineers and product managers to develop, train, deploy, monitor and manage AI/ML models and systems.

Under the agreement, Carahsoft, headquartered in Reston, Va., will serve as ClearML’s Master Government Aggregator, making the company’s software available to the public sector through Carahsoft’s reseller partners and Information Technology Enterprise Solutions – Software 2 (ITES-SW2) and National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) ValuePoint contracts.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to partner with Carahsoft to deliver our end-to-end AI Platform to Government agencies to help them build AI in the most complex and demanding environments,” said Moses Guttmann, ClearML co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “We look forward to leveraging Carahsoft’s advanced capabilities and extensive partner ecosystem to market our software to the public sector.”

Nvidia Taps AWS Exec Howard Wright To Lead Startup Ecosystem

Recognizing the importance of generative AI startups to its own success, Nvidia this week hired Amazon Web Services executive Howard Wright to lead the AI chip giant’s relationships with a sprawling network of startups.

Wright disclosed this week that he is joining Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia as vice president of startup ecosystem. He has been vice president and global head of startups at AWS for more than two years.

“Nvidia is at the heart of the next Industrial Revolution, and the commitment to innovation and excellence is inspiring. I’m honored to join a team that’s shaping the future of technology,” Wright said on LinkedIn.

Startups have been key to Nvidia’s success in the AI computing space over the past several years, developing new applications using its GPUs and then driving demand for such chips and inspiring further development when those applications gain traction. Such activities are often associated with sales of server platforms developed by Nvidia and have increasingly included other products in its portfolio, including network chips and software.

Nvidia works with startups mainly through its Inception program, which counts more than 19,000 startups as members and provides various benefits, including free credits for AI courses and workshops as well as preferred pricing on select products and cloud credits for GPU compute through partners, according to the company’s website.