5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

Investments in leading-edge technologies are the recurring theme in this week's roundup of companies that came to win. The list includes Cisco's efforts in the promising Internet of Everything arena, IBM's plans to commercialize its Watson supercomputer technology, Hewlett-Packard's expanded multi-OS strategy, and a key acquisition by Palo Alto Networks. And Juniper Networks takes a key step toward rebuilding its depleted channel management ranks.

Cisco CEO John Chambers has previously staked out the Internet of Everything as a growth area for his company. But at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, he kicked that up a notch and increased his estimate of the Internet of Everything market opportunity to $19 trillion.

That estimate came in a keynote speech Chambers made at CES in Las Vegas this week. The CEO sees 2014 as the year when the Internet of Everything, the concept of Internet-enabling everyday objects from streetlights to home appliances, really takes off.

At the show, Chambers told CRN that Cisco partners would play a major role in Cisco's Internet of Everything offensive. To be successful, Chambers said Cisco and its partners have to focus less on selling Internet of Everything technology and more on the business outcomes driven by those technologies.

No one doubts that IBM's Jeopardy-winning Watson supercomputer is a technological marvel that can carry out complex computations in science, finance and other areas. Until now, however, Watson seemed destined to remain in the lofty world of supercomputers, calculating the size of the universe, mapping the human genome and tackling other such tasks.

But this week, IBM said it would invest $1 billion to create a new division called the Watson Group to commercialize the Watson technology, developing applications and services for Watson and taking it into new markets -- all with the help of partners.

The Watson Group will be based in New York City, and CEO Virginia Rometty said $100 million would be invested in startups and existing businesses that develop Watson applications and an ecosystem around the technology.

Hewlett-Packard used this week's Consumer Electronics Show as the launchpad for the HP Slate21, an all-in-one desktop computer based on Google's Android operating system. The move added an exclamation point to its aggressive strategy of offering a range of products running on multiple operating systems.

While HP also debuted several Windows-based devices at CES, it was the HP Slate21 that drew the most attention. The HP Slate21 is the latest HP device running Google operating systems: The company began selling its first Chromebook last year when it also expanded its lineup of Android-based tablets.

In an interview with CRN, Thomas Jensen (pictured), vice president of worldwide channel sales at HP's Printer & Personal Systems Group, said the multi-OS strategy is simply responding to customers' desire to choose whatever device they want. It's also giving HP partners more flexibility to meet their customers' needs.

Juniper this week named Jonathan Belcher (pictured), until now the vice president of partner sales for Asia-Pacific, to be the company's new U.S. channel chief. Word of the appointment comes just days before the start of the networking company's Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas.

Juniper was plagued with a number of executive departures in 2013, including the loss of U.S. channel chief Chris Jones and other managers of the networking company's channel program.

Channel partners welcomed Belcher's appointment, telling CRN they hope it's a signal that Juniper is returning to some measure of stability among the company's executive ranks and channel management.

Palo Alto Networks expanded its roster of experts in threat detection and prevention technology this week when it acquired Morta Security, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based security startup.

Morta Security was founded in 2012 by several former employees of the National Security Agency, the U.S. Air Force, and the Food and Drug Administration. The company has been in stealth mode while engineers developed its security technology for handling what are know as advanced persistent threats.

The acquisition gives Palo Alto Networks an injection of talented engineers that will help the company deliver new technology and products this year, Nir Zuk, the company's co-founder and CTO, told CRN. The acquisition also serves as a competitive counterweight to FireEye's $1-billion deal last week to acquire security technology developer Mandiant.