5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

This week's roundup of companies that came to win include Hewlett-Packard's gains in the competitive server market, a move by Microsoft to encrypt customer data and thwart government snooping, efforts by a major unified communications vendor to shore up its partner program, rapid adoption of Apple's iOS mobile operating system, and pretty much every online retailer.

The worldwide server market remains a cutthroat battle, but lately it's Hewlett-Packard that's coming out on top. Numbers released by Gartner this week show that HP is not only retaining its top spot in the worldwide and North America server markets but also putting more distance between itself and rival Dell.

HP sold more than 256,000 servers in North America in the third quarter, up 22.5 percent from a year earlier in units shipped. That led to revenue of about $1.4 billion, a gain of 8 percent. No. 2 Dell, in contrast, shipped just over 209,000 server units in the quarter, down 22.3 percent from a year earlier. Revenue was $1.0 billion, down 6 percent.

Gartner also reported that Cisco grew its North America server sales in the quarter while IBM's server sales declined.

Users of cloud services from Google, Yahoo and other vendors have become increasingly alarmed as details leak out about the scope of efforts by the National Security Agency to surreptitiously collect personal data from emails and other online communications.

This week, Microsoft said it will encrypt customer data as it's transmitted to, from and between Microsoft's data centers and cloud services, including Outlook.com, Office 365, SkyDrive and Windows Azure. The company will use "best-in-class" industry cryptography, including Perfect Forward Secrecy and 2,048-bit key lengths, according to a blog post by Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president, legal and corporate affairs.

Microsoft also will encrypt customer content stored in Microsoft systems. Smith said that while many of the protections are in effect already, all of the new security initiatives would be complete by the end of 2014.

ShoreTel this week unveiled plans for significant changes to its Champion Partner Program aimed at making the program simpler for partners to navigate and less vulnerable to channel conflict.

Among the changes, the bulk of which go into effect Jan. 1, are new partner discounts and market development funding structures, a new opportunity registration program, and a new pricing model for ShoreTel's support services. A key improvement is the streamlined discount plan that condenses multiple billing thresholds within each partner level.

ShoreTel today has some 900 channel partners, 550 in North America, and company executives speaking with CRN emphasized that feedback from solution providers was used in shaping the new program.

Owners of Apple's mobile devices aren't dawdling. Apple's iOS 7 mobile operating system has been installed on nearly three-quarters of iPhones, iPads and iPods, according to stats released by Apple this week.

The figures, based on data collected from devices connecting to Apple's App Store during the week ending Dec. 1, show that 74 percent are now running on iOS 7. That's up 10 percent since October, Apple said. Another 22 percent are still running iOS 6, and 4 percent are using older releases.

While that's a win for Apple, it's also good news for ISVs that develop applications for the mobile devices. Having so many Apple customers using the latest software release simplifies their decision about which version to support.

Cyber Monday online sales grew 20.6 percent compared to one year earlier, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, while online sales for the five-day period starting on Thanksgiving Day grew 16.5 percent over the same period in 2012.

IBM also reported that consumers using their mobile devices accounted for 17 percent of all online sales, a gain of more than 55 percent from last year.

Smartphones drove 19.7 percent of all online traffic, compared to 11.5 percent for tablets, IBM said. But many of those smartphone users seemed to be just browsing: Tablet users accounted for 11.7 percent of online sales compared to 5.5 percent for smartphone users.