5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending April 29

Topping this week's roundup of companies that had a rough week is Apple's first quarterly sales decline in 13 years.

Also making the list were Symantec for the departure of its CEO and reduced fourth-quarter revenue forecast, Arista Networks for reports that it is cutting back its channel efforts, VMware for the loss of its top cloud computing executive, and Cisco for reports that the rollout of its HyperFlex systems may not be going smoothly.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves -- or just had good luck -- check out this week's 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Apple Reports First Quarterly Sales Decline In 13 Years

For more than a decade Apple could be counted on for two things: product innovation and robust sales growth. But more recently the company seems to be flagging in the former and this week brought a screeching halt to the latter.

For its second fiscal quarter ended March 26 Apple reported this week that sales declined nearly 13 percent to $50.56 billion from $58.01 billion one year before. Aside from missing Wall Street's already low expectations of just less than $52 billion in revenue, the disappointing results marked the giant company's first quarterly sales decline since 2003.

All this comes amid slumping sales of Apple iPhones and iPad tablets and questions from some in the industry over whether the company has lost its innovation mojo for developing ground-breaking products.

Symantec CEO Steps Down, Security Vendor Lowers Revenue Guidance

Symantec was obviously hoping that it could put the turmoil of the past couple of years behind it after completing the sale of its Veritas Technologies storage management and backup and recovery vendor. Alas, this week the turmoil continued.

The company said president and CEO Michael Brown (pictured) would be stepping down, joining a recent wave of executive departures from the security software developer.

Symantec partners see a silver lining in the news, however, praising Brown for cutting costs and creating a new product road map but also saying new leadership is needed to take the security vendor to the next level.

The company this week also lowered its revenue guidance for the fourth fiscal quarter (ended April 1) to $873 million compared with earlier forecasts of $885 million to $915 million in revenue. Symantec blamed "a shift in enterprise security customer buying preferences" that resulted in reduced license revenue.

Arista Reportedly Makes Channel Cuts, Channel Chief Steps Aside

We regularly give kudos to companies when they step up their game in the channel so you can expect the opposite to hold true when sources tell us of IT vendors cutting back on their channel efforts.

Multiple sources this week told CRN that Arista Networks has made cuts in its channel field representative and inside channel sales teams in North America as part of a greater emphasis on outbound direct sales. One solution provider told CRN that Jayshree Ullal (pictured), Arista Networks CEO, "really doesn't believe in the channel."

The sources also said that Todd Dalton, channel sales lead and sales executive at Arista, recently left the company in the wake of the strategic shift. And solution providers told CRN that there has been channel conflict between partners and Arista's direct sales reps.

VMware's Top Cloud Computing Exec Heads For The Door

The executive who has been running VMware's vCloud Air hybrid cloud service is leaving the company, VMware confirmed this week, the latest of several recent high-level executive departures from the virtualization technology provider.

The departure of Bill Fathers comes as vCloud Air struggles to gain market share because of a lack of key features and competition from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. VMware has laid off much of the vCloud Air staff and seen several top executives depart in recent months. VMware said Fathers made a personal decision to leave the company.

Aside from the implications for VMware's vCloud Air program, Fathers' exit follows the company's recent loss of several other top executives including president and COO Carl Eschenbach and software-defined networking chief Martin Casado.

Cisco's Hyper-Convergence Offering Lacking Key Features, Partners Report Shipping Delays

Cisco began shipping its HyperFlex hyper-converged infrastructure appliance in early April, but several channel partners told CRN that they are still waiting to get their hands on it. While Cisco initially said the channel would get the HyperFlex systems in March, partners said that time frame has been pushed back indefinitely without explanation.

Partners who have been working with the HyperFlex products say it lacks erasure coding, a key technology that breaks data up into chunks and stores them across a range of location and media types. Cisco, however, says it offers technology that makes erasure coding unnecessary. HyperFlex also lacks support for all-flash storage nodes and native replication, according to sources, and has a limit of eight nodes per cluster.

Cisco told CRN this week it has been shipping the systems since the beginning of this month, but did not respond to follow-up queries about how many units have been delivered. For partners, the reported issues with HyperFlex echo the messy rollout of Cisco's Invicta storage systems in 2014 and 2015.