5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

Microsoft Reverses Course On Bug Bounties

Microsoft has long resisted offering rewards for "white hat hackers" who discover flaws in Microsoft software. But this week the company reversed course and announced a bug bounty program for serious coding errors found in its products.

The program will pay up to $100,000 for "truly novel" attacks that bypass defensive measures in Windows 8.1 Preview, the latest release of the company's flagship operating system software. The company will also pay out up to $11,000 for critical vulnerabilities that affect Internet Explorer 11 Preview.

Security experts said the change in philosophy could reflect the maturity of Microsoft's software development processes and a new confidence in the code base of its latest operating system release.

Startup Cumulus Networks Challenges Network Industry Giants

Startup Cumulus Networks exited stealth mode this week, unveiling its Linux-based network operating system the company said brings the flexibility and low-cost benefits of open standards to data center networks dominated by Cisco and other vendors.

Cumulus Networks' goal is to have the same impact on data center networks where proprietary technologies reign. Such networks have tightly integrated hardware and software, are complex and expensive, and lack common tools for network management, automation and monitoring, according to the startup.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, founded in 2010 by former Cisco and VMware networking engineers, has raised more than $15 million in venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures and other investors including former VMware CEO Diane Greene.

AMD Preps New ARM Server Chip

AMD unveiled its server processor roadmap this week and it included the company's first ARM-based server CPU, code-named "Seattle." The chip is a key element in AMD's strategy to compete against rival Intel and to put the company back on the road to growth and profitability.

"This will be a game-changing product for the industry," said Andrew Feldman, vice president and general manager of AMD's Server Business Unit. The Seattle processor, AMD said, will set a new standard in performance-per-watt as the industry's premier ARM server processor. The processor will come in eight-core and 16-core versions that run at 2 GHz or higher with 128 GB DRAM support.

The Seattle CPU is part of the broader 2014 server processor road map, which also includes a new x86 APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) and an x86 large-core processor. But the company will need a stronger channel presence with system builders and solution providers to get that technology to a wider customer base.

Datawatch Boosts Big Data Visualization Capabilities With Acquisition

Businesses today are struggling with huge volumes of data, in terms of both technically managing and integrating all that data, and in understanding the data and finding a way to derive value from it. This week Datawatch took a big step toward offering a system that helps with both challenges.

Datawatch develops "information optimization" software for combining structured, unstructured and semi-structured data and making it available to analytical applications. This week the company struck a deal to acquire Panopticon Software, a developer of real-time data visualization tools that businesses use to identify meaningful information amongst huge volumes of data.

Today the big data software market is fragmented, flooded with lots of software products that address specific, narrow facets of the big data challenge businesses face. With its Panopticon buy, we may be seeing the start of a move by vendors to pull together synergistic technologies into more complete big data solutions.

Sophos Launches Managed Security Services Provider Program

Sophos unveiled the details of its managed security services provider program this week, touting its pay-as-you-go monthly billing and usage-based pricing for MSP license holders. "We are the first to launch this managed security services program where it is a utility pay-as-you-go program," said Kendra Krause, Sophos' new Americas channel chief.

Like other endpoint security vendors, Sophos is Web-enabling its product portfolio to appeal to SMBs. And the vendor is in heated competition with Kaspersky Lab and other vendors to capture a larger share of SMB customers.

The new Sophos Complete MSP Security offering ties together the company's Astaro purchase, now called Sophos UTM, and its endpoint software and SaaS-based mobile device security platform.