5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending Oct. 4

This week's roundup of companies that came to win include some major channel moves by Palo Alto Networks, new partner incentives by several leading IT vendors, key mobile computing acquisitions by IBM, and a government stamp of approval for a leading software company's cloud platform.

Palo Alto Networks Names Worldwide Channel Chief

Network security technology developer Palo Alto Networks stepped up its channel game this week, tapping an industry veteran to be its first worldwide channel chief, and debuting new sales tools to help its partners drive growth.

On Monday the company, known for its next-generation firewall product, said it hired Ron Meyers, a 15-year channel veteran and former head of global channels for videoconferencing vendor Polycom.

"This is another indicator that Palo Alto Networks is all-in with the channel," said Pradeep Aswani, founder and director of Cloud Harmonics, a next-generation security distributor based in Sunnyvale, Calif. "They are bringing on board high-quality people. They are doubling down on their channel commitment."

The appointment came just before the company's partner conference, held this week in San Diego, where some 150 partners got an update on the company's plans.

SalesFusion, HP And McAfee Expand Channel Partner Incentives

IT vendors seemed to fall all over themselves this week to offer more incentives, rebates and other goodies to channel partners.

Perhaps most innovative was the revenue-sharing program from SalesFusion designed to encourage VARs and consultants to sell its marketing automation platform. The program ranges from 20 percent of first-year revenue to as much as 40 percent. Hewlett-Packard, meanwhile, rolled out new back-end rebates for partners, including an 18 percent rebate for top-tier U.S. Platinum converged infrastructure specialists selling HP's networking products, and a 5.5 percent rebate for U.S. Gold cloud builder/storage specialists selling HP CloudSystem with 3Par storage. And McAfee executives, speaking at the company's SecurityAlliance Partner Summit in Las Vegas this week, outlined new partner rewards and incentives to fuel sales growth in networking, data center and endpoint security.

Acquisitions Extend IBM's Mobile Software Lineup

IBM's acquisitions of The Now Factory and Xtify this week were hardly blockbusters on the scale of IBM's $2 billion buyout of SoftLayer Technologies earlier this year. But these are the kinds of acquisitions whose wholes are greater than the sum of their parts.

The Now Factory, which IBM is buying for an undisclosed amount, develops data analytics applications that wireless service companies use to manage their networks, reduce costs and identify new opportunities. Xtify, also acquired for an undisclosed sum, develops cloud-based mobile messaging tools that digital marketers use to drive sales and engage customers with personalized offers.

While IBM doesn't shy away from making the occasional multibillion-dollar acquisition, most of its acquisitions are of small companies with leading-edge technologies in such areas as business analytics, mobile computing, software development and security. It's one reason IBM has such a rich, focused portfolio of software products.

Oracle Pegged As Industry Leader In Converged Systems

Oracle has taken a lot of heat from competitors, industry analysts and even investors for its shrinking hardware sales, following its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010. (Sales of hardware system products were down 14 percent in the first quarter ended Aug. 31.)

So Larry Ellison and company must have derived some satisfaction from a report from market researcher IDC this week that identified Oracle as the top vendor of converged infrastructure appliances that combine hardware and software. The report said Oracle has a 56.7 percent share of that market.

Oracle's Engineered Systems, which bundle the company's software products with hardware acquired in the Sun deal, have become the company's most visible product line. First-quarter sales of Engineered Systems, including the Exadata Database Machine and the Exalogic Elastic Cloud, grew 60 percent year-over-year.

Microsoft Windows Azure Wins Government Seal Of Approval

Microsoft said this week that its Windows Azure public cloud service had won preliminary approval from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, which certifies the security of cloud services for use in U.S. government agencies.

Final approval for Windows Azure could open the door to more cloud service deals with the federal government. IBM and Amazon are currently competing for a $600 million, 10-year cloud services contract with the CIA and Microsoft would certainly like to get in on those kinds of deals.