Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

VCE Launches Its Own Channel Program

The Virtual Computing Environment company (VCE), a joint effort between EMC, VMware and Cisco, unveiled its own channel program this week and announced it would no longer follow the channel path of its parent companies.

Solution provider partners will now deal directly with VCE, and they'll be able to take advantage of deal registration and market development funds. VCE is also offering partners a new unit volume discount incentive based on sales over a six-month period. This is in addition to the discounts they get from the parent companies.

Not a bad deal for a VAR willing to try something different.

Sandy Bridge Propels Intel To Surprisingly Strong Q1

Intel executives have taken to calling its Sandy Bridge processor the best product the chipmaker has ever produced, and it was tough to argue this week after Intel surprised the Street by exceeding expectations. Profit was up 29 percent and revenue 25 percent, and Intel CEO Paul Otellini gave the channel a shout out for its quick adjustment to Intel's Sandy Bridge processor recall in February.

"The ramp in the channel was the fastest we’ve ever seen and sell-through has been robust as well," Otellini said in the call. ’Rapid recovery from Cougar Point issues last quarter enabled a much faster ramp for Sandy Bridge than previously expected in January.’

Otellini said Intel’s customers in Q1 replenished approximately half of the inventory depleted in Q4 primarily with Sandy Bridge processor products. He said Intel’s PC client business grew 17 percent from last year.

VMware Gets Its Virtualization, Cloud Ducks In a Row

VMware is still riding the wave of server virtualization, but it's iurging partners to follow it into the cloud as well. This week, we got a glimpse of how VMware intends to leverage virtualization to make inroads in the cloud market. VMware is now positioning its vSphere, vShield, vCloud Director and vCenter Operations products as a solution for any path companies might want to take to the cloud.

"Now that we have these four products in place, we will invest in and update them as a family," VMware CEO Paul Maritz said in the company's Q1 earnings call. "They'll be used by our customers internally for private clouds and by service providers in public clouds. We believe that this hybrid approach will be the way most enterprises adopt cloud computing."

This isn't just lip service: VMware says it's going to incent sales to get the ball rolling. "We are trying to encourage our customers to adopt the other three products," Maritz said. "We are also encouraging our sales force to equip customers with all four products."

Microsoft To Give Employees A Monetary Pat On Back

Microsoft employees have been leaving the company in droves in recent months, so much so that the Redmond campus is starting to look like a Charlie Sheen concert. But this week, in a memo sent to remaining employees, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer outlined plans to increase Microsoft employee compensation "across the board", a move that will involve converting employee stock grants into upfront cash.

"These changes represent the most significant investment in overall compensation we have ever made," Ballmer wrote in an internal email to employees, as reported by GeekWire.

It remains to be seen if the move will stanch the outward flow of Microsoft talent, but Microsoft is at least trying to leverage its deep cash reserves to deal with the problem.

AT&T Profit Soars On Solid iPhone Sales

The Verizon iPhone was supposed to be the cavalry that arrived to save suffering AT&T iPhone users from the horrors of poor bandwidth coverage, and it was also expected to trample AT&T's iPhone business. But that doesn't appear to have happened, at least not in AT&T's Q1.

AT&T activated 3.6 million iPhones during the quarter. Verizon? 2.2 million. OK, so Verizon didn't start selling the iPhone until a month into the quarter, but it still looks like those predictions of a mass exodus from AT&T have yet to be realized. Apple event gave its erstwhile exclusive iPhone carrier partner a shout-out in its Q2 earnings call.