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5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

For the week ending March 27, CRN takes a look at the companies that brought their 'A' game to the channel.

The Week Ending March 27 

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the news, much of this week’s 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup is focused on what IT companies are doing to help mitigate the pandemic’s impact. Topping this week’s list is Cisco, which announced a major contribution of cash and product toward the fight.

Also making the list are Lenovo for offering its channel partners a “stimulus package” to improve cash flow, Intel for its donations to organizations and foundations battling the effects of the pandemic, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff for a pledge to avoid layoffs of salaried and hourly workers. Finally, in news unrelated to the coronavirus, Microsoft makes this week’s list for a savvy acquisition in the wireless technology space.

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Cisco Commits $225 Million To Combat Coronavirus Pandemic 

Networking giant Cisco wins kudos this week for its announcement that it is putting up $225 Million in cash, services and product donations to support nonprofits, businesses and government agencies – locally and globally – that are battling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cisco’s largess includes $8 million in cash and $210 million in product that will be provided to groups and organizations in health care, education and government response.

The company, for example, will provide funding to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which is supporting the World Health Organization’s worldwide efforts to detect and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Other funding will go toward Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration program that helps government agencies and businesses quickly deploy IT systems for tracking and containing the pandemic. The company is likewise providing those entities with free access to its security and collaboration systems.

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Lenovo To Launch ‘Partner Stimulus Package’ To Aid Solution Provider Cash Flows

Bringing the COVID-19 assistance a little closer to home, Lenovo wins applause for changes to its rebate policies and financing plans that are intended to help channel partners with their cash flow during the economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “partner stimulus package” Lenovo unveiled this week, set for launch April 1, is designed to provide U.S. and Canadian solution providers with more predictable earnings, faster payouts and extended financing terms – all with the goal of improving cash flow.

Lenovo, for example, will remove sales thresholds that partners were required to reach in order to earn back-end rebates, offering flat-rate incentives instead that will pay rebates from dollar-one.

Lenovo also will pay rebates every 30 days instead of the traditional 90 days and offer a 30-day extension for qualified partners through the Lenovo Partner Financing Program.

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Intel Offers $6 Million In Donations To Local Coronavirus Relief Efforts 

Intel this week said it is expanding its charitable giving for coronavirus relief efforts and offering $6 million to local organizations and foundations in communities where the chipmaker has a significant presence.

The company is donating $4 million to communication foundations and organizations focused on food security, shelter, medical equipment and small-business support. It is providing an additional $2 million in donations from employees to food banks, school districts and children’s hospitals.

Intel is targeting the money toward organizations and foundations in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas, as well as in Costa Rica, India, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam.

The news of the $6 million donation follows a previous announcement from Intel of a $1 million donation to the International Red Cross and the offer of 1 million pieces of personal protection equipment to healthcare workers.

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Salesforce CEO Pledges ‘No Significant Layoffs’ Amid Coronavirus Crisis 

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said this week that the cloud software giant will not conduct any significant layoffs for the next 90 days as the coronavirus pandemic creates economic disruptions and devastating job losses.

Benioff’s pledge, made in a tweet Wednesday, applies to both salaried workers and hourly workers around the world who will continue to be paid even as the Salesforce facilities they work in are closed to impose social distancing measures.

Salesforce has already donated $1 million to the University of California San Francisco’s COVID-19 Response Fund and $500,000 to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund, while also matching employee donations to other aid organizations.

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Microsoft Makes 5G Play With Deal For Affirmed Networks 

In one bit of news that reminds us that business continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft struck a deal this week to acquire Affirmed Networks, a developer of wireless networking virtualization software.

The acquisition will provide Microsoft with technological capabilities that make its Azure cloud platform more attractive to telecommunications companies. Telecoms are increasingly looking for ways to move their network workloads to public cloud systems as an alternative to building expensive data centers with custom hardware.

The Affirmed Networks technology is expected to give Microsoft a competitive edge as telecommunications carriers expand their 5G wireless services. 

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