Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

Microsoft Bets The House On Windows 8

Microsoft is embarking on a whole-hog revamp of its Windows cash cow, a move that has as much potential for disaster as it does for success. "Windows 8. Yeah, I'm excited," CEO Steve Ballmer said in his customarily bombastic style at Microsoft's Windows 8 launch event in New York City.

Microsoft also launched Surface, a stunningly well designed device that seeks to straddle the line between PC and tablet while offering users the best parts of each. Early criticisms of Surface have focused on software glitches, but there is no question Microsoft will address these in due time.

Of greater concern is the impact Surface could have on Microsoft's channel, as this marks the first time the software giant will be competing with longtime OEM partners. Is there enough pie for everyone?

Apple, VMware Working On Microsoft Office Alternative

Natural IT industry allies VMware and Apple are teaming up to give organizations a way to avoid Microsoft Office licensing costs. Details are still murky, but sources told CRN the companies are working on an iPad app that mixes VMware View virtual desktop software with cloud-hosted versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers -- known as the iWork suite -- running on Apple infrastructure.

VMware's Horizon Application Manager, part of the Horizon Suite VMware unveiled at VMworld, is also believed to be in the mix. "Apple wants Pages to be seen as a replacement for Microsoft Word, Numbers as a replacement for Excel and Keynote as a replacement for PowerPoint," one source familiar with the project told CRN.

Chambers Says Cisco Once Again Riding High On The Hog

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers says his company's ability to anticipate market transitions and reinvent itself when necessary has enabled it to stay ahead of competitors in the IT industry.

"When you partner with Cisco, you partner with a company that doesn't lose," Chambers told CRN in an exclusive interview from the company's San Jose, Calif., headquarters this month. "When we need to reinvent ourselves, we do."

Cisco went through a rough patch, but Chambers said the company is now better positioned than any of its competitors. "Perceptionwise, we hit some rough sledding, we clearly did. We needed to change. But our competitors went through the same and did much worse. There's not a challenge I'm aware of that our peers didn't have to go through too," he told CRN.

IBM Steps Up Big Data Game With New Appliance

IBM expanded its big data portfolio with new Hadoop-based software and an appliance -- called Digital Analytics Accelerator -- that is based on its PureData System for Analytics product.

The new appliance handles "heavy clickstream analysis" to see how consumers respond to marketing campaigns, advertising and promotions, James Kobielus, IBM's big data evangelist, told CRN.

Scale Computing Lands $12 Million In Funding, Plans Partner Program

Scale Computing landed a $12 million venture capital round that it plans to use to further its "datacenter-in-a-box" vision, which integrates server, storage, networking and hypervisor into a single managed system. The startup is also planning to launch a partner program later this year, CEO Jeff Ready told CRN.