5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

This week's list of companies that came to win includes a major financial commitment to Linux by IBM, a new partner initiative by VCE, Microsoft's big-bucks share repurchase pledge, a big VC funding win by a videoconferencing upstart, and a cloud storage channel partner stepping up in light of a vendor failure.

IBM this week said it would invest $1 billion in a multiyear program to develop Linux and related open-source technologies. The initiative is designed to boost the capabilities of the company's Power System servers for enterprise-class tasks such as cloud computing, big data processing and compute-intensive analytics applications.

IBM is a longtime backer of Linux -- the company invested $1 billion in 2000 to Linux-enable its products -- and this new effort continues that program. The investment shows IBM isn't backing away from its Power Systems server business, which declined 25 percent in the second quarter ended June 30 from the same period one year earlier.

VCE rolled out a new partner program this week, which executives of the Cisco-EMC-VMware joint venture said would help solution providers cash in on the rapidly growing market for converged infrastructure products.

The new VCE Partner Program and its tiered structure offer incentives and a new set of partner specializations around VCE's Vblock servers, the latter including Vblock deployment and implementation services and another around Vblock management.

While VCE's old partner program focused on recruiting solution providers with high-level certifications from EMC and Cisco, VCE execs said the new initiative would shift the focus to solution providers who have experience selling and developing services around Vblock. That's a big step for VCE toward developing its own stable of partners.

Microsoft shareholders haven't had much to cheer about lately, given the company's struggles to gain market traction with Windows 8 and its Surface tablet, a $900 million charge against earnings for unsold Surface inventory, and other issues.

This week the giant software company took steps to reward its loyal shareholders by paying a quarterly dividend of $0.28 per share and a new $40 billion share repurchase program to renew a repurchase initiative that ends Sept. 30.

Analysts said the move will present the company as a solid investment, despite the fact it's undergoing a massive restructuring and CEO Steve Ballmer is retiring next year. At the end of fiscal 2013 (June 30), Microsoft had more than $77 billion in cash, according to the company's Form 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Online videoconferencing service provider Blue Jeans Network collected $50 million in venture capital funding this week, a haul that company executives said will take the company out of its scrappy startup phase and into the big leagues of the business collaboration and unified communications market.

The new round of funding, led by VC firm Battery Ventures, puts the company's total funding at about $100 million. Stu Aaron, chief commercial officer at Blue Jeans Network, told CRN the new capital will be used to fuel the company's sales and marketing efforts, and its international expansion.

Blue Jeans Network, with 3 million users, is already experiencing rapid growth despite competing against such industry heavyweights as Cisco and Polycom.

Nirvanix, a San Diego-based cloud storage startup, is shutting down and telling customers to move their data elsewhere, sources told CRN this week. The company also told its cloud partners that customers would no longer be able to replicate data to the Nirvanix cloud.

That sounds like a candidate for our "Five Companies That Had A Rough Week" list. But it's on our "Five That Came To Win" list because London-based Aorta Cloud, a service provider and Nirvanix partner, is trying to rally Nirvanix customers and investors to acquire Nirvanix and keep it running for at least as long as needed to migrate customers' data.

Some businesses are still leery about committing their data to cloud service providers and reported failures like Nirvanix only add to that skepticism. By stepping up to ameliorate the damage, Aorta is looking out for its customers' interests and demonstrating the value of channel partners in cloud computing.