5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

This week's roundup of companies that came to win includes a big venture-funding win for a converged infrastructure vendor, a commitment from Dell to leverage the channel for its enterprise computing sales efforts, plans by a popular antimalware software developer to launch a partner program, and IBM's latest plans to expand its cloud services operations.

Converged infrastructure vendor Nutanix closed on $101 million in series D venture funding this week, putting the San Jose, Calif.-based company's value at about $1 billion.

The funding, big by even Silicon Valley standards, was led by Riverwood Capital and SAP Ventures, with participation from new investors Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and Greenspring Associates, and existing investors Battery Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, according to a Forbes report. That brings the company's total funding to $172.2 million to date.

Converged infrastructure is hot and Nutanix has been gaining attention with its converged compute and storage systems. In July, the company rolled out its first formal channel program, the Nutanix Partner Network.

Dell is stepping up its efforts to change the game in the enterprise IT arena and it's counting heavily on its channel partners to help.

"We feel that we've got the building blocks to go disrupt the data center [market]," said Curtis Hutcheson, Dell vice president and general manager, in an interview with CRN at last week's MCPc Game Changers summit. While the company already has a major presence in the data center through its one-third share of the server market, it's also leveraging its EqualLogic and Compellent storage technologies and Force10 networking technologies. While the channel currently handles less than one-third of Dell's enterprise business sales, Hutcheson said the goal is to drive that to 50 percent or more. "We need our partners to go tell that story," he said, noting that partners often have a better understanding of customers' needs, such as IT workloads and business applications. "We're totally committed. We're going big and deep with our select partners."

Malwarebytes, developer of the well-known, antimalware tool, is getting serious about the channel. This week the company signed a distribution deal with Tech Data that company executives said lays a foundation for a formal partner program that will be rolled out later this year.

Malwarebytes has generally targeted consumers with its antimalware software. But in 2012, it released a business-class edition of the product for both SMBs and large companies. While Malwarebytes has been selling the product through some partners, the company is expanding its channel efforts.

Tech Data will help Malwarebytes drive partner recruitment and brand awareness. Through the partner program, currently under development, the company is especially looking to recruit managed service providers and consultants who can bundle its software with other security offerings, particularly in vertical industries. The effort is overseen by Dave Allison, senior director of channel sales, who joined Malwarebytes in July from Adobe Systems.

IBM said Friday it's committing to spend $1.2 billion to expand its global cloud service offerings, including opening 15 new data centers around the world. The move builds on the cloud infrastructure operations IBM acquired when it bought SoftLayer Technologies for $2 billion in June. IBM already has a dozen of its own data centers around the world and the SoftLayer acquisition added another 13 to IBM's network. The $1.2 billion will go toward building 15 more in Washington D.C., Dallas, London, Mexico City, Hong Kong, China, Japan, India and Canada.

Large IBM partners with existing SoftLayer business see the move as huge win, allowing them to push SaaS and PaaS solutions into territories previously hard to crack because of technical and regulatory red tape. But others are uncertain about the impact. "It all depends on how closely SoftLayer and these data centers fit into IBM's current cloud offerings. As an IBM partner I haven't yet seen the benefits of the SoftLayer acquisition," said Tom Hughes, director of alliances for Technology Solutions Group at Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Ciber.

Google is developing a tiered channel program, slated to launch later this year, for partners that want to work with the Google Cloud Platform.

Developers use the Google Cloud Platform to build, test and deploy applications on Google's cloud infrastructure using a mix of compute, storage and application services. Because businesses that use the platform generally require IT integration help, Google is particularly recruiting partners that can offer complete solutions and cloud expertise, rather than just work with point products.

Google made the announcement at the Red Hat Cloud Symposium this week. While attending solution providers welcomed the news, some said they needed more details about the program to judge the impact it will have on their own businesses. Google already operates channel programs around its Google Docs, Google Drive and Google Enterprise applications.