5 Companies That Came To Win This Week (Plus A Bonus)

The Week Ending March 11

Topping this week's roundup of companies that came to win is Microsoft, for further shedding its Windows-centric philosophy of the past by announcing plans to develop a Linux version of its SQL Server database.

Also making the list were a hyper-converged technology alliance between Lenovo and Juniper Networks, a channel program launch by Alfresco and a channel program expansion by Okta, and Cisco's savvy acquisition of search technology developer Synata. Bonus: The latest victory of machine over man thanks to Google's artificial intelligence creation.

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 5 Companies That Had A Rough Week roundup.

Microsoft Developing Linux Version Of Its SQL Server Database

There has been a steady stream of evidence that Microsoft is thinking outside the "Windows box" in the two years since Satya Nadella took over as CEO. But this week the company dropped a bombshell when it disclosed that it's working on bringing its SQL Server relational database to Linux for the first time.

SQL Server is one of Microsoft's oldest products and was instrumental in helping the vendor move beyond desktop software into corporate data centers. Nadella has been pushing to bring Microsoft software to competing platforms and SQL Server on Linux is the latest example.

While a private preview of SQL server on Linux is available, the finished product isn't expected until mid-2017. But partners told CRN that SQL Server on Linux would help Microsoft drive more cloud business and compete more effectively against Oracle and IBM in the database market.

Lenovo, Juniper Team Up On Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Lenovo and Juniper Networks are partnering to develop hyper-converged infrastructure systems, establishing a strategic alliance that should provide the two companies with an entry into the red-hot emerging hyper-converged market.

The partnership, unveiled this week, will marry Lenovo's x86 servers and switches with Juniper's routers, switches, software-defined networking technology, management tools and security software.

The hyper-converged infrastructure space has largely been dominated by a few industry giants, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco Systems, and startups like Nutanix and SimpliVity. By combining their technologies and areas of expertise, Juniper and Lenovo are gaining a seat at the hyper-converged table.

Alfresco Fires Up Channel Sales With New Partner Program

Alfresco Software, a developer of open-source content management and business process management applications, launched a partner program this week with plans for up to 70 percent of its sales to go through the channel.

The program will serve Alfresco's growing community of partners, including systems integrators, resellers, ISVs and infrastructure providers. The program will offer an array of benefits including deal registration, co-marketing funds, training and business planning resources, and dedicated channel account managers.

Also launching is a new partner portal that can sync with Salesforce and provide partners with sales leads and lead registration, sales tools, sales and marketing collateral, and other offerings.

Okta Extends Partner Efforts With Eye On The Public Sector

Security technology startup Okta wins kudos for teaming with its channel partners to take on the federal government market. This week the company unveiled a targeted expansion of its partner ecosystem to push its identity and access management software into the booming public sector security arena.

Okta has been on a roll lately, recently landing $75 million in venture capital funding that put the company's valuation at $1.2 billion. But while the San Francisco-based company has been successful in numerous markets, the federal market has proved elusive.

With the public sector adopting more cloud applications and looking for ways to secure those systems, Okta sees a big opportunity for itself and its channel partners. The latest plans include extensions to the Okta Authorized Service Provider Program with new training, certifications, professional services, and sales and marketing support – all aimed at the federal market.

Partners Energized As Cisco Acquires Synata Cloud Search Company

Continuing the acquisition tear it's been on lately, Cisco Systems this week acquired cloud search technology developer Synata in a move that will boost Cisco's Spark business collaboration platform.

Synata's technology allows users to search both on-premise and cloud applications simultaneously. Cisco's plan is to leverage that technology to allow users to search content from within Spark.

This week a report from Synergy Research Group said Cisco already tops the worldwide collaboration technology market and is increasing its lead over competitor Microsoft. This week's Synata acquisition may further widen that gap.

Bonus: Google's Deepmind AI System Beats Go Champion In Two Matches

In a stunning example of how far artificial intelligence has come, Google's AlphaGo program this week beat South Korean world champion Lee Se-dol in the first two of a best-of-five matches in the ancient Chinese game of Go.

The success of AlphaGo, created by Google's DeepMind artificial intelligence unit, follows the widely publicized victory IBM's Watson supercomputing system had in 2011 on the game show "Jeopardy."

Go is considered an extremely complex board game and observers saw the match as a significant moment in the development of artificial intelligence, according to a Financial Times story. AlphaGo's victories underscore the increasing ability of computers to replicate and improve on the human decisions needed to play the game.