Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

Amazon Beefs Up Cloud In Advance Of Apple's iCloud Launch

Amazon is updating its cloud-based storage and content streaming services, Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player. Record companies are probably not thrilled about this, but it might be enough to lure a whole bunch more customers for Amazon and put it in a better position against Apple's upcoming iCloud. Amazon also will give Cloud Drive users free storage for music purchased through Amazon MP3.

And in a more obvious swipe at Apple, Amazon this week said it plans to launch Cloud Player capabilities for the Apple iPad. Diehard Apple fans are no doubt smarmily dismissing the move, but it's the kind of thing that could appeal to customers who feel Amazon might be a more savvy cloud company than Apple.

HP's Elite Systems Support Gamble Pays Off

Hewlett-Packard's decision to add a dedicated end-user support team for its Elite Series business-class notebooks and desktops is paying off in the form of higher customer satisfaction ratings on support calls.

The new dedicated support team, which is providing troubleshooting and problem resolution on HP's toll-free customer support line, started taking calls on March 15, and the majority of customers are rating the experience very positively, with satisfaction scores in the 9.0 to 10 range, Lisa Baker, director of customer segment marketing for HP, told CRN this week.

Customer support is perhaps the single most-complained about issue in the PC industry. By taking aim at the problem with dedicated resources, HP is showing that it's capable of soothing customers' angst.

Dimension Data Hits Cloud Gas Pedal With OpSource Buy

Dimension Data's acquisition of cloud and managed hosting provider OpSource Thursday is a major step forward in the global systems integrator's "services journey," Dimension Data CEO Jere Brown told CRN this week.

With OpSource in the fold, Dimension Data can take a step back from traditional product sales and focus more on getting customers up to speed with services, according to Brown. Johannesburg, South Africa-based Dimension Data, which was acquired by Tokyo-based NTT last year, has wrapped OpSource's cloud and managed hosting offerings into a new business group, a centralized Cloud Solutions Business Unit.

Sophos Looks To Take On Larger Foes With Astaro Buy

Sophos has been looking up at larger players in the security market for quite some time, but its acquisition of Astaro Networks, which closed this week, could enable the company to take on the Goliaths of network security and unified threat management.

The bulk of Sophos’ offerings to date have revolved around end-point security, Web threat and data loss protection, but partners told CRN this week that the move could put Sophos more on par with security rivals Symantec and McAfee, while giving it a fighting chance against larger network security players like Cisco and Juniper.

Facebook Gives Cisco, Google A Run For Their Money With Skype Tie

Facebook's partnership with Skype is about more than just adding video calling to the social networking site: It immediately establishes Facebook as the world’s leading technology platform for voice- and video-based communication. With 750 million Facebook users and 170 million Skype users, you're talking about a combined installed base of nearly 1 billion. This is bad news for both Google and Cisco, which have been working to leverage video communication as a strategic offering and which now must play second fiddle to Microsoft, which will own Skype and which partially owns Facebook.