Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

Steve Jobs Reminds Foes That They're Eating Apple's Dust

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is unimpressed with the state of affairs over in the Android and RIM camps, and he's not shy about expressing exactly what he thinks is wrong.

Jobs made an unexpected appearance on Apple's Q4 earnings call this week, calling out Android's fragmentation and asserting the superiority of Apple's integrated approach to mobile product development. He also bragged about surpassing RIM in smartphone sales and took some shots at the emerging 7-inch tablet market: "We think the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA, Dead on Arrival. Sounds like lots of fun ahead," he snarked.

Why is this a win? Well, Steve Jobs is, of course, no stranger to trash talk, but he's been noticeably absent from Apple earnings calls in recent years and quiet in the ones he has attended. This stepped-up talk from Jobs shows a renewed willingness to get out in front of competitors and sprinkle the road ahead of them with nails. If there was any doubt that Jobs is "back," it has now been erased.

Rackspace OpenStack Cloud Takes Step Forward

OpenStack, Rackspace's open-source cloud computing platform, is a potential game-changer, and this week the hosting provider released its first set of code for the project.

Rackspace's Austin release includes code for OpenStack's compute and storage infrastructure and gives service providers the wherewithal to build private clouds while also maintaining a level of standardization within the cloud computing ecosystem.

Unveiled in July, the OpenStack initiative now includes an ecosystem of more than 35 partners, and Rackspace appears pleased with its progress thus far. "The support and active participation from the community has been amazing to see; we are much further along than we expected to be three months into this project, and the future is very promising," OpenStack General Manager Jim Curry told CRN this week.

Avaya Vows To Bring It To Competitors In 2011

Avaya is ready to kick some butt and take some names, company executives said this week at the vendor's America's partner conference in Las Vegas.

"It was a tense year, a tough year, and year of transformation, and now in fiscal year 2011, we believe we're focused almost singularly on one thing, which is growth," Avaya President and CEO Kevin Kennedy said at the event.

Avaya has a $5 billion run rate, has market leadership positions in contact center and UC, and is ready to start wielding the data networking portfolio it obtained in its Nortel acquisition. Avaya is also gaining ground in video, and in September rolled out a video portfolio to go along with its unified communications.

Although the company has had some channel issues in the past, it is spending around $1 billion on becoming more channel-centric, a number that’s tough to argue with.

Westcon Equipping VARs With Data Center Expertise

The data center is a mountain of opportunity for VARs with the know-how to get into deals, and this week Westcon Group opened its first U.S.-based training center focused on virtualization and other data center technologies.

Westcon's new Denver-based LEAP Center (Learn, Experience, Architect and Plan) is similar to a facility the distributor opened in Belgium last month and is based on Cisco's UCS platform. Solution providers can get hands-on training and accreditation with Cisco UCS, and they can also bring in customers to demonstrate how UCS can work in their own data center environments.

The goal, according to Westcon Group CEO Dean Douglas, is to increase the effectiveness of VARs' selling tactics. "In everything we do, we like to see an increased close rate for customers. [The LEAP center] helps them sell more product. In this case, for them it also accelerates their education, how to move forward in the marketplace," Douglas said.

ShoreTel Adds Agito To Unified Communications Arsenal

ShoreTel this week revealed its intention to acquire fixed-mobile convergence vendor Agito Networks, a tiny startup based in Santa Clara, Calif., for around $11.4 million. Agito specializes in UC technology that integrates with existing enterprise PBX infrastructure to allow voice calls over VoIP connections, but what's more important about the deal for ShoreTel is that Agito extends this capability all the way to the mobile device.

Agito's products are compatible with Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as many RIM BlackBerry devices, Nokia phones and Windows Mobile phones. They also interoperate with competing UC products from Cisco, Avaya, Mitel and Microsoft.

"We will continue to support the ShoreTel Mobility Solution with any flavor of PBX," Kevin Gavin, ShoreTel's vice president of marketing, told CRN this week. "Even if a customer is all-Avaya or all-Cisco, we will sell them ShoreTel Mobility on top of that PBX. Whether those vendors cooperate or not, we think that will be a big benefit to customers."