5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

For the week ending Dec. 15, CRN takes a look at the companies that brought their ‘A’ game to the channel including Cognizant, Intel, VirtualZ, TD Synnex and ESET.

The Week Ending Dec. 15

Topping this week’s Came to Win list is global IT services giant Cognizant for making a strategic move to take its ServiceNow practice to the next level with the acquisition of ServiceNow superstar Thirdera.

Also making this week’s list are Intel for its newly launched Core Ultra “Meteor Lake” processors for ultrathin laptops, startup VirtualZ for a successful funding round, distributor TD Synnex for a new partner assistance initiative around Microsoft’s 365 Copilot AI assistant, and cybersecurity vendor ESET for its new specialized marketing support effort for top partners.

Cognizant Buying Thirdera In Move To Build Massive ServiceNow Business

ServiceNow’s workflow and digital transformation platform is in high demand. It’s also a big demand driver for solution providers who build services and expertise around the ServiceNow technology.

So global IT service and systems integration giant Cognizant makes this week’s Came to Win list for its deal to acquire Thirdera, a ServiceNow Elite channel partner that has billed itself as the industry’s largest pure-play ServiceNow solution provider.

Cognizant will leverage the acquisition to become one of the largest and most credentialed ServiceNow partners and one of the globe’s biggest ServiceNow consultancies. Cognizant will combine its own team of 1,500 employees dedicated to ServiceNow with Thirdera’s 940 people into the company’s ServiceNow business group that will be run by Jason Wojahn, Thirdera co-founder and CEO.

ServiceNow was created just three years ago when three ServiceNow channel partners were combined by their private equity owner.

“What this does is, it creates a more comprehensive practice for both of us,” Wojahn told CRN. “We get additional regions and scale of resources. Cognizant gets additional certified master architects, certified technical architects, and additional ways of training and enabling next-generational resources. We bring our IP [intellectual property] together with Cognizant’s IP into one harmonized place… What that allows us to set up is just much more comprehensive than either one of us could have done alone.”

Intel Launches Core Ultra ‘Meteor Lake’ Chips In AI PC Push Against Rivals

Intel is mounting a fresh challenge against rivals in the emerging AI PC category with its newly launched Core Ultra “Meteor Lake” processors for ultrathin laptops, packing a CPU, GPU and – for the first time – a neural processing unit to handle low-power AI tasks.

Intel says the CPU, GPU and neural processing unit in the new Core Ultra Chips for ultrathin laptops are made to accelerate a variety of workloads. The processors are expected to power more than 230 laptop designs from Dell Technologies, HP Inc., Lenovo and a slew of other OEMs.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is promoting the new Core Ultra chips as part of its “AI everywhere” strategy, which involves accelerating AI workloads from the edge to the cloud and is becoming an important element of Intel’s broader comeback plan.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has promised that the Core Ultra chips will “usher in the age of the AI PC,” which the chipmaker and other major PC players believe will transform the industry and drive a fresh wave of product refresh opportunities.

Startup VirtualZ Raises New Funding For Mainframe Data Access Development

Storage startup VirtualZ, which has developed technology that moves data between IBM Z mainframe servers and cloud or on-premises applications, this week raised $2.2 million in a seed funding round.

With the latest financing, led by Next Frontier Capital, the Minneapolis-based startup has now raised a total of $4.9 million in funding.

“From a data access perspective, the mainframe platform is growing,” co-founder and CEO Jeanne Glass told CRN. “More and more applications are being written from scratch to run in the cloud. More and more SaaS applications are being deployed every day. Many of those applications rely on mainframe data where the bulk of business data resides in order for companies to run.”

But getting modern applications to work with data on IBM Z mainframes can be a complex task. The lifting, shifting, and transforming of data so it can be extracted for cloud applications can consume up to 40 percent of a mainframe’s capacity. And with so much important data running mission-critical mainframe applications, including operational financial and airline applications, permanently moving data to the cloud is difficult.

VirtualZ looks to solve issues related to running mainframe data in cloud-based applications, as well as allowing mainframe-based applications to run cloud-based data, via its three new applications that allow those capabilities in real time.

The company’s Lozen application provides real-time read and write access to mainframe-based data by cloud, SaaS, distributed and custom applications. Zaac, conversely, allows mainframe-based applications to access external data in hybrid cloud, physical storage and SaaS systems in real-time. And PropelZ is a utility for creating copies of mainframe data for experimentation or analysis in hybrid cloud environments.

New TD Synnex Resources For Microsoft 365 Copilot Aimed At Readying Solution Providers

Customer demand is surging for expertise and assistance as they develop their AI plans. And that’s leading some solution providers to ask: “Uh, a little help…?”

Distributor TD Synnex wins kudos this week for launching what it calls an “Enablement Journey” for Microsoft 365 Copilot with the goal of helping solution providers work with their customers for successful adoption of the generative artificial intelligence software.

The distributor is also providing through Enablement Journey resources to help channel partners reduce the cost of building AI practices.

Enablement Journey includes sales and technical enablement, training, readiness tools, peer-to-peer collaboration and sharing to help solution providers bring emerging GenAI technology to small and midsize businesses. Also included are a Copilot practice builder and lab experiences for testing concepts and use cases.

The Copilot offering is part of TD Synnex’s vendor-agnostic Destination AI program, which aggregates various AI services, products and resources. Destination AI customers can access applications and services that run on M365 and Microsoft Azure, including data analytics, natural language processing and computer vision.

Sergio Farache, TD Synnex chief strategy officer, told CRN that the AI services opportunity for solution providers is two or three times that of simply reselling the technology.

ESET Offers New Marketing Support Benefits For Partners

Speaking of assisting partners, ESET is rolling out a new benefit for top partners that aims to provide specialized support around targeted marketing campaigns, with the goal of helping to boost the solution providers’ sales with the cybersecurity vendor while also enhancing the partners’ marketing skills, the company told CRN.

The new marketing-as-a-service benefit in the ESET Partner Program will include support from the vendor to qualified partners over a six-month period, during which the company will help the partners deliver a number of marketing campaigns to end customers.

“When you're working with a partner on putting together a marketing plan that includes a half-year campaign, that's differentiated in my estimation,” said Hope McCluskey, director of channel marketing for ESET North America. “We're really working closely with the partner. The partner account manager and a marketing [specialist] are really dedicating their time to really drive this. It's probably much more manual than what most vendors are offering — and I think that's a good thing.”

The company has been testing out the program with about a half dozen partners so far. ESET plans to scale up the marketing-as-a-service program to about 10 additional partners per quarter. The focus is on gold and silver ESET partners, though in some cases the company might choose to work with a partner that has shown a commitment to ESET as well as a “ton of potential,” McCluskey said.