Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

Apple Signs Up To Present At Black Hat For First Time

Sure, Apple unveiled a new Macbook Pro with a high-resolution retina display at its developer conference. But news of its planned participation at next month's Black Hat security conference could be even more significant, as it suggests a shift in the company's longstanding silence on security matters.

If Apple's representative takes Q&A from the audience, it will serve as further evidence that the company is fostering a more open, transparent relationship with the security research community.

Microsoft Reportedly Ready To Pony Up $1 Billion To Buy Yammer

A report from Bloomberg that Microsoft might buy Yammer, the operator of social media networks for businesses, for more than $1 billion shows that the software giant isn’t about to stand by while Oracle and Salesforce treat the business social networking space like their own sparsely inhabited fantasyland.

One billion dollars [cue Dr. Evil sound bite here] is obviously a lot of scratch, but Yammer does have more than 200,000 customers and more than 4 million users. It has also raised around $142 million in venture capital to date, so obviously some pretty smart people see potential in the company.

VMware Adds Apache Hadoop Support To vSphere

VMware vSphere now supports Apache Hadoop, a move that will make it easier for businesses to adopt the open-source big data technology in private and public cloud environments.

VMware is providing the vSphere support for Hadoop under an open-source effort called Project Serengeti. Users obtain a free deployment toolkit under the Apache 2.0 license to deploy a Hadoop cluster on vSphere. VMware says it will continue to work with the Apache Software Foundation and help to improve Hadoop's performance on vSphere.

Dell Aims At HP, Cisco With New Converged Infrastructure, Blade Arrays

At the Dell Storage Forum in Boston this week, Dell fired a shot across the bow of data center foes with the unveiling of a converged infrastructure offering that combines Dell servers, networking and a new blade version of its EqualLogic storage products, all of which can be managed as a whole within a single enclosure.

All the parts are contained in the same Dell blade chassis and managed by the same software, and this gives it an advantage over competitors, Brad Anderson, senior vice president of Dell's Enterprise Product Group, told CRN. "Cisco's offering is centered on the fabric and network, but its compute products are relatively new," he said. "And in the storage market, Cisco is absent. So, most of its management is focused on simplifying the network."

Panasonic Restructures Channel To Go After Vertical Markets

Panasonic recently completed a restructuring of its channel that will make it easier for partners to navigate its massive product portfolio and better target customers in vertical markets. The company is focusing now on three primary, market-based segments: B2C, B2B Devices and Components, and B2B Solutions.

"It’s beyond just selling more boxes," Rance Poehler, head of Panasonic’s newly formed B2B Solutions group, told CRN. "As we create more verticalized solutions … our channel can make money selling these solutions. We can help them move from a box business into the solutions business, and I think that’s huge for our channel."

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