Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

Rackspace Unveils Certifications For Private Cloud Service

Rackspace, one of the early cloud platform providers to offer a channel program, upped the ante with certifications for solution providers using its private cloud service.

The two certifications, unveiled at the opening of the OpenStack Design Summit in San Diego, are designed to make it easier for solution providers and businesses to use Rackspace's OpenStack private cloud service.

Rackspace aims to foster the adoption of the OpenStack standard and make it easier for businesses to use its private cloud, which is becoming more attractive to enterprises that want the savings and efficiency of hosting data centers off-premise but the security of a specialty service cloud. Rock on Rackspace. Rock on!

Panasonic's New Partner Program Includes New Services, More Support

Channel stalwart Panasonic unveiled a new partner program it says will arm VARs with a more dedicated team of channel resources, along with greater visibility and access to the company's sprawling portfolio of products.

The new program, called the Panasonic Authorized Reseller Program, will replace the nine, product-specific partner programs that were previously in place. The program includes new bundled services offerings, including those related to security and surveillance and AV installations.

A big high five to channel superstar Sheila O'Neil, vice president of channel management at Panasonic, and her team on the new program.

Microsoft Inks Deal To Buy StorSimple

Microsoft stepped up its cloud game with its planned acquisition of StorSimple, a developer of hybrid local and hybrid cloud storage technology for Windows platforms that could lead Microsoft to compete against partners that provide Azure-focused cloud storage gateways.

Microsoft signed a definitive agreement to acquire Santa Clara, Calif.-based StorSimple as a way to expand its cloud technology and help its customers better take advantage of hybrid cloud computing.

StorSimple develops cloud storage appliances featuring local capacity of up to 100 TB integrated with cloud-based primary, archive, backup and disaster recovery capabilities.

HP Adds Third-Party Vendors To Its Support Services Portfolio

Hewlett-Packard expanded the scope of its ServiceONE specialization, which lets partners resell HP services offerings, to include third-party vendors.

With a new offering called HP Multivendor Services, HP is making life easier for partners that work with multiple vendors on data center maintenance services.

HP is training its call center staff to field customer support calls for both HP and non-HP products, thereby enabling partners to maintain relationships with clients for issues that fall outside HP's purview. Partners credit Ken Archer (pictured), vice president of channels and alliances for HP Technology Services, for leading the charge on the expanded services offering.

Sprint Nextel Gets $20.1 Billion Softbank Boost

Softbank, Japan's third-largest mobile carrier, announced plans to make a major stake in U.S. carrier Sprint Nextel, in a deal that will both extend Softbanks's reach into the U.S. mobile market and give Sprint a competitive boost against rivals AT&T and Verizon.

The deal, through which Softbank will pay $20.1 billion for a 70 percent stake in Sprint, has been approved by both companies' boards, with an expected closing date set for mid-2013. Softbank said it plans to pay $12.1 billion to Sprint shareholders for its stake in the company, coupled with an additional $8 billion in new capital intended to "strengthen Sprint's balance sheet."

"This is a transformative transaction for Sprint that creates immediate value for our stockholders, while providing an opportunity to participate in the future growth of a stronger, better capitalized Sprint going forward," said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, in a statement.