5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

For the week ending Sept. 22, CRN takes a look at the companies that brought their ‘A’ game to the channel including Cisco Systems, CrowdStrike, Intel, Cato Networks and SonicWall.


The Week Ending Sept. 22

Topping this week’s Came to Win list is Cisco Systems, which is making a bold move to expand its presence in the security and observability space with its blockbuster deal this week to buy Splunk.

Also making this week’s list is CrowdStrike for its own strategic acquisition deal to acquire application security tech developer Bionic. Cybersecurity provider Cato Networks makes the list for an impressive funding round, as does Intel for showing off its technology chops, including debuting the long-awaited Meteor Lake laptop CPUs at the company’s Intel Innovation event. And cybersecurity tech developer SonicWall unveiled an overhauled channel program that brings a major focus on enabling MSPs and MSSPs.

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Cisco To Acquire Splunk For $28B To Drive ‘AI-Enabled Security And Observability’

Networking giant Cisco Systems made a big move this week to extend its presence in the unified security and observability space with a deal to acquire Splunk for approximately $28 billion. Cisco is paying $157 per share in cash for the acquisition, which is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2024.

The acquisition, Cisco’s 10th this year, is the biggest acquisition in Cisco’s nearly 40-year history.

“We’re bringing together two powerful innovation engines to create one of the world’s largest software companies, and together we will help make organizations more resilient and secure in an AI-powered world,” said Cisco Chair and CEO Chuck Robbins. “Together, Cisco and Splunk see a broad range of data across applications, security and the network. Our combined capabilities will drive the next generation of AI-enabled security and observability.”

One of the main goals in Cisco’s acquisition of Splunk is to help Cisco transform itself into a more software subscription and recurring revenue company —a transformation Splunk has undergone in recent years. While Cisco has a highly successful track record in network infrastructure dating back to the 1980s, the company has shifted its business and innovation engine more toward software and as-a-service offerings over the past 10 years.

Cisco said the Splunk acquisition will accelerate the company’s revenue growth and overall gross margin thanks to its software and subscription go-to-market.

Cisco also wins kudos this week for its plans to scale up its investment in the SMB arena in fiscal 2024, including spending what company executives described as “tens of millions of dollars” for marketing in the SMB space and on partner programs and partner profitability.

CrowdStrike To Acquire Bionic To Boost Cloud-Native App Security

Staying on the topic of strategic acquisitions, CrowdStrike is deepening its capabilities in security for cloud-native applications with this week’s announcement of its planned acquisition of Bionic, a startup offering technology in the emerging category of application security posture management.

The cybersecurity giant said it has reached an agreement to acquire Bionic and incorporate the startup’s capabilities into its cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP).

The deal was unveiled in connection with CrowdStrike’s Fal.Con 2023 conference. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition of Bionic is expected to come with a price tag of $350 million, according to multiple reports.

The acquisition will give CrowdStrike’s CNAPP the ability to provide “comprehensive risk visibility and protection across the entire cloud estate, from cloud infrastructure to the applications and services running inside of them,” CrowdStrike said in a statement. CrowdStrike said it will now become “the first cybersecurity company to deliver complete code-to-runtime cloud security from one unified platform.”

The acquisition of Bionic “further extends our cloud security leadership on our mission of stopping breaches,” CrowdStrike co-founder and CEO George Kurtz said in the statement.

Solution provider executives told CRN that the move to acquire Bionic and its application security posture management technology is a strong move to extend CrowdStrike’s fast-growing cloud security platform and make the cybersecurity giant an even fiercer competitor in the space.

CrowdStrike also wins a shoutout for launching CrowdStrike Accelerate, the company’s revamped partner program, with new partner incentives, improved training and increased support resources in such areas as marketing. The new program is particularly targeted at enabling channel partners to boost their involvement with products on the company’s unified Falcon security platform beyond its flagship endpoint detection and response (EDR) offering.

SASE Specialist Cato Networks Raises Record $238M Funding Round

Cloud networking specialist Cato Networks has raised $238 million in equity investment, the company said this week. The company plans to put part of the financing toward expanding the partner ecosystem offering managed Cato SASE services.

Tel Aviv, Israel-based Cato Networks has spent the last several years building out its single-vendor secure access service edge (SASE) platform. The new Series F funding round brings the company’s total funding to $773 million.

The company’s largest financing round to date was led by LightSpeed Venture Partners with the participation of Adams Street Partners, SoftbankVision Fund 2, Sixty Degree Capital and Singtel Innov8.

In addition to building out its partner ecosystem, the funding will go toward extending Cato’s technology to a broader audience and growing the engineering and product innovation team, the company said.

Kudos also go to data analytics startup MotherDuck, which this week raised $52.5 million in a Series B funding round that brings the Seattle-based company’s total funding to $100 million and puts its post-money valuation at $400 million.

Intel To ‘Usher In Age Of AI PC’ With Core Ultra Meteor Lake CPUs In December

Intel used its third annual Intel Innovation event this week to unveil its long-awaited Meteor Lake processors for laptops, which will be released this December under the new Intel Core Ultra brand.

The new processors will feature, for the first time in an Intel design, an integrated neural processing unit that will enable “power-efficient AI acceleration and local inference on the PC,” according to the company.

It’s the company’s first client processor to use a chiplet design with Intel’s Foveros packaging technology and uses the Intel 4 manufacturing process, previously known as the company’s 7-nanometer node.

Intel also used the Intel Innovation event to launch Intel Trust Authority, a new commercial service designed to verify that confidential computing enclaves enabled by its Xeon processors are properly handling sensitive data in data centers.

Intel also said its 5th-Gen Intel Xeon Scalable server processor will launch Dec. 14 with a 288-core CPU coming next year. The company previewed its Lunar Lake next-generation client CPU, disclosed plans to build a large AI supercomputer with Xeon Scalable processors, and said its Intel Developer Cloud platform is now available for developers to test and deploy AI and high-performance computing applications with the company’s latest CPUs, GPUs and AI accelerators.

SonicWall Revamps Partner Program To Accelerate Growth, Activate MSPs

SonicWall unveiled an overhauled channel program this week that brings a major focus on enabling MSPs and MSSPs to work with the company, while introducing a range of improvements aimed at driving accelerated growth with all partners.

The company’s redesigned SecureFirst Partner Program takes into account a massive quantity of feedback provided by partners and includes significant enhancements to profitability and flexibility, Global Channel Chief Michelle Ragusa-McBain (pictured) told CRN.

The company’s goal is that its new channel program—the biggest update to the SonicWall program in seven years—will resonate strongly with existing partners while also generating interest among those who don’t currently work with the company, Ragusa-McBain said.

Crucial updates for MSPs and MSSPs in the new SecureFirst Partner Program include the introduction of a monthly consumption and billing model in contrast to previous requirements for commitments of one to three years for procuring product licenses. That offers the ability for providers of managed services to add or remove devices depending on the changing needs of their customers,