5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

Cisco Offers Resources To Make Partners More Competitive

Cisco held its 17th annual Partner Summit in Boston this week where executives did their fair share of competitive chest-thumping and promising to provide partners with the resources they need to stay competitive.

"The message that we must give together to our competitors is, 'If you are going to compete against Cisco and its ecosystem, you are going to lose,'" CEO John Chambers told partners Tuesday. "And history is littered with companies big and small that have learned this."

But Cisco wasn't just trash-talking. The company unveiled a series of resources, promotions, tools and incentives designed to help partners win over small and midsize customer prospects, which included doubling Cisco's investments in its Partner-Led and Partner Plus midmarket initiatives. The company also announced new benefits and incentives to help partners who are designated Cloud Services Resellers build up their cloud practices and make the transition to a recurring revenue model.

IBM Moves To Acquire Cloud Computing Infrastructure Supplier

IBM demonstrated just how serious it is about the cloud computing services market this week when it disclosed a deal to acquire SoftLayer Technologies, a cloud computing infrastructure supplier. While IBM didn't say what it's paying for SoftLayer, there had been rumors IBM and EMC were vying to buy it for $2 billion or more.

The move certainty expands IBM's SmartCloud services lineup -- especially for enterprise customers -- and puts the company closer to realizing its goal of generating $7 billion in annual revenue from cloud computing by the end of 2015. Jim Comfort, IBM general manager of cloud services, said the deal also expands the range of cloud options for the company's channel partners.

And while IBM executives downplayed it, the acquisition undoubtedly puts IBM into more direct competition with other cloud service players, including Amazon Web Service and Rackspace.

Dell-Oracle Ally On Enterprise Software

At first glance it looks like an odd-pairing. Oracle is a software company trying to grow its lackluster hardware sales, using technology from its acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Dell, also trying to get its hardware sales to rebound, is expanding into software following its acquisitions of Quest, SonicWall and other companies. Heated competition would seem inevitable. And yet this week the two companies unveiled an alliance through which Oracle will provide its business-critical software to run on Dell's x86 servers, offering partners and customers integrated hardware/software solutions. Oracle is working to phase out the x86 commodity server products it inherited when it bought Sun, focusing instead on its Engineered Systems that combine Oracle software with high-performance servers. The Dell deal will help it do that while maintaining an x86-based route to market for its software products. And Dell gets high-value software that helps it distinguish its server products in a competitive market. Strange bedfellows? Maybe. But this deal is a good example of thinking outside of the box -- or the server -- for both companies.

Arrow Extends Cloud Enablement Offerings To North American Partners

Transitioning to a cloud services model isn't easy for solution providers. So it was welcome news this week when Arrow Electronics said it's extending its ArrowSphere cloud service brokerage and cloud aggregation platform to partners in the U.S. and Canada. Until now ArrowSphere was only available in five European countries.

The platform offers centralized billing and provisioning for a variety of cloud services, including storage, servers on demand, security and unified communications. Partners have the option of white labeling the brand.

Arrow also is offering a number of enablement services aimed at helping channel partners manage the transition to the cloud, providing guidance on such perplexing topics as how to manage compensation in a recurring revenue model and how to guide customers as they adopt cloud computing.

Synnex And Verizon Team Up On Mobility Solutions

As with cloud computing, mobility is another fast-changing area that solution providers know they need to expand into but aren't sure how. This week's alliance between Verizon Enterprise Solutions and Synnex Corp. offers one solution.

Under the distribution agreement, Synnex partners that work with the company's MobilitySolv program will have access to Verizon's carrier services including fixed line infrastructure services, cloud services and advanced communications offerings. Joint partners, for example, will have access to such Verizon offerings as Virtual Communications Express, voice-over-IP, FiOS, Ethernet and MPLS.

"This will give [partners] access to deal registration, training and certification programs, marketing resources including MDF, and sales and technical support," said Janet Schijns (pictured), vice president of medium business and channels at Verizon Enterprise Solutions.