5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending Jan. 8

It's a new year. And that means new opportunities for companies to make the right strategic moves that put them ahead of the competition.

Topping this week's roundup of companies that came to win is Amazon Web Services' latest move to play competitive hardball in pricing its cloud services.

Also making the list this week are Eaton's play to bring its power management offerings to the hyper-converged arena, Avnet's acquisition of a key training services firm, acquisitions of Salesforce.com solution providers by Accenture and Capgemini, and IBM's positioning of its Watson supercomputer for the coming "cognitive era."

Not everyone in the IT industry was making smart moves this week, of course. For a rundown of companies that were unfortunate, unsuccessful or just didn't make good decisions, check out this week's Five Companies That Had A Rough Week roundup.

AWS Delivers More Price Cuts To Ring In 2016

Amazon Web Services has been a fierce competitor in cloud services, cutting its prices eight times since April 2014. This week the cloud computing giant showed that it intends to remain hyper-competitive in 2016 by unveiling yet another price cut.

The Seattle-based company cut by 5 percent the cost of three of its Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) instances -- C4, M4 and R3 -- running standard Linux in regions across the U.S., Europe and Asia. The reduced prices apply to On-Demand, Reserved and Dedicated host procurement models.

That's quite a new year's gift to AWS' partners and customers.

Eaton Sets Its Sights On Hyper-Converged Opportunity

Power management equipment developer Eaton clearly sees hyper-converged systems as a widely adopted element of future data centers. And it also clearly sees that as an opportunity.

This week Eaton, which has its North American headquarters in Cleveland, said it had validated its Intelligent Power Manager software to run with hyper-converged systems from Nutanix. The move is part of a stepped up software sales offensive: The vendor already has similar certifications for its software to run with hyper-converged systems from SimpliVity.

Eaton's Nutanix play will create new opportunities for its channel partners that have developed practices around hyper-converged infrastructure systems, a market that's expected to grow from $2 billion this year to $5 billion in 2019, according to market research firm Gartner.

Avnet Buys Big Data, Cloud Training Services Firm

Avnet took a big step to expand beyond its core distribution business this week when it acquired ExitCertified, an 80-person provider of training services for big data, cloud, security and hyper-converged systems.

The acquisition, which more than doubles the size of Avnet's North American education team, will enable the distributor to extend existing supplier distribution deals to include training for solution providers. Avnet can even offer training around vendors that don't currently appear on Avnet's line card.

Solution providers are straining to expand into new areas such as big data and cloud computing and they can use all the guidance they can get. Phoenix-based Avnet's acquisition of ExitCertified is a savvy move for the distributor and its partners.

Capgemini, Accenture Expand Salesforce.com Service Capabilities With Acquisitions

As more businesses adopt Salesforce.com's CRM, marketing and other cloud applications, demand grows for solution provider services to deploy and use those applications. This week two leading solution providers, Capgemini and Accenture, sought to meet that demand by acquiring European-based Salesforce.com partners.

Capgemini, based in Paris, on Tuesday said it had acquired Munich-based Oinio, a leading Salesforce.com partner on the continent. That came one day after Dublin-based Accenture purchased The Netherlands-based CRMWaypoint, the solution provider's second Salesforce partner acquisition after its blockbuster purchase of Cloud Sherpas in September.

The acquisitions boost the competitive postures of Capgemini and Accenture in cloud brokerage and integration services, a fast-growing piece of the broader cloud computing market.

IBM Doubles Down On Watson To Power The 'Cognitive Era'

IBM has been touting the capabilities of its Watson supercomputer for several years now. But at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty took those efforts to the next level, saying Watson is poised to have a transformative impact on digital-savvy businesses that can turn Internet of Things (IoT) big data into a competitive advantage.

Rometty noted the number of data-generating wearables, sensors, autos and other devices at CES and said businesses need to collect and understand that data to be successful. And that's where Watson comes in, she said.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM announced partnerships with Under Armour, Medtronic and SoftBank in which Watson will serve as the back-end intelligence engine for what she called "cognitive IoT."