5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

Amazon Aims To Make Public Cloud A Safer Place

Amazon Web Services rolled out its CloudHSM (Hardware Security Module) service, which aims to quell public cloud security fears by giving customers access to their own dedicated Luna SA HSM appliance from security vendor SafeNet. CloudHSM gives users access to "secure key storage and a set of cryptographic operations within a tamper-resistant enclosure," Amazon said in a Tuesday blog post.

"You can store your keys within an HSM and use them to encrypt and decrypt data while keeping them safe and sound and under your full control. You are the only one with access to the keys stored in an HSM," Amazon said.

Rackspace Adds Development Tools With Exceptional Cloud Buy

Rackspace Hosting said it's acquiring Exceptional Cloud Services, a cloud development startup whose products track errors in Web applications.

Rackspace said the deal will help its developers write cleaner code.

"We are creating services that allow developers to more easily and rapidly create applications," Bret Piatt, director of corporate development and strategy at Rackspace, told CRN. "We will provide end-to-end visibility across the cloud environment, which is critically important."

Big Switch Networks Gives Shot In The Arm To SDN

Network virtualization startup Big Switch Networks rolled out Switch Light, an open-source thin switching platform that can be deployed as both a virtual switch for server hypervisors or in a silicon-based physical switching platform, also known as "whitebox switch."

The idea, and the driving force behind software-defined networking in general, is to free customers from dealing with proprietary, vendor-specific networking architectures.

"Networking equipment today remains in the mainframe era. You've got propriety silicon and proprietary systems ... that make it really hard to add new and innovative functionality," Andrew Harding, senior director of product marketing at Big Switch Networks, told CRN.

T-Mobile CEO Vows To End Wireless Carrier [Shenanigans]

T-Mobile CEO John Legere, in an entertaining departure from the sort of painstakingly couched executive-speak one typically hears at industry events, implored other carriers to "stop the [BS]" of the traditional carrier subsidy model for devices. Legere announced T-Mobile's plan to ditch annual contracts in favor of a new pricing model, called the Simple Choice Plan, which doesn't require customers to sign an up-front annual service contract when buying a new phone and allows them instead to pay on a month-to-month basis.

Oh, and T-Mobile is also getting the iPhone, finally. It plans to start selling the iPhone 5 on April 12 and will allow customers to purchase it for $100 and then pay monthly installments of $20 per month for 24 months.

Microsoft Nabs Oracle Channel Chief Althoff

Microsoft lured away popular Oracle channel chief Judson Althoff, in what could end up being one of its most shrewd channel-related moves in recent years. Althoff had been leading Oracle's aggressive effort to court partners from competitors such as Hewlett-Packard, VMware, Red Hat, EMC and NetApp. "Those are the guys we are going after," he told CRN in November 2011. "They actually know how to speak to this notion of a federated stack."

Andrew Brust, CEO of Microsoft analyst firm Blue Badge Insights, New York, described the hiring of Althoff as "a coup" for Microsoft that could help spark sales of its Dynamics CRM and ERP suites, as well as SQL Server and the full data platform stack.

"Oracle does know the corporate IT sales game much better than Microsoft, by and large," Brust told CRN. "A cultural change there is welcome, especially to partners who hope Microsoft can help drive their own pipeline."