5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending Nov. 4

Topping this week's roundup of companies that came to win is Cisco Systems, which went on the offensive in terms of both its technology offerings and its channel initiatives this week at Cisco Partner Summit 2016.

Also making the list is CenturyLink for its planned acquisition of Level 3; distributor Ingram Micro, whose $6 billion acquisition by Chinese logistics firm Tianjin Tianhai cleared a significant hurdle; Axway for its new Internet of Things platform that will help solution providers penetrate the IoT market; and Avaya for beefing up its channel program.

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.

Cisco Goes On Technology Offensive At Partner Summit

With its annual partner conference this week, one would expect Cisco to be aggressive. But the company outdid itself (particularly when you consider that it was the second Cisco Partner Summit this year as it moves to align the event more closely with its own global sales meeting) with an eye-popping range of product and channel announcements designed to help the company and its partners compete against rivals in data center and security technology markets.

Topping the list was Cisco's launch of new storage-optimized servers and the disclosure that former Cisco executive Roland Acra is returning as senior vice president and general manager of the vendor's Data Center Business Group. The company also stepped up its game in the unified communications and collaboration space by debuting five new collaboration offerings that partners can take to market.

Cisco also revamped its Advanced Malware Protection for Endpoints security technology and rolled out a new licensing program for solution providers in advanced security. And the company said it is offering partners a $7,500 Quick Start voucher for Digital Network Architecture deals that exceed $300,000 to help offset the costs of turning on embedded features, good for up to five deals through the end of Cisco's fiscal year in July 2017.

CenturyLink To Acquire Level 3 For $34 Billion

Telecom service provider CenturyLink made a bold move this week when it inked a deal to acquire Level 3 Communications in a cash and stock deal worth $34 billion.

The combined company will become the second largest domestic communications provider serving enterprise customers, according to both companies. The new company expects to enjoy a greater competitive advantage, especially for business networking services, given Level 3's extensive fiber footprint. The merger will provide partners with a compelling combination of cloud and data services for their enterprise business customers, which will account for about 76 percent of the new company's revenue, they said.

CenturyLink also took a major step to streamline its business focus this week by selling its data centers and co-location business to a group of private investors for $2.15 billion. The company plans to apply those funds to the Level 3 acquisition.

Acquisition Of Ingram Micro Clears Critical Hurdle

Chinese logistics firm Tianjin Tianhai's $6 billion acquisition of Ingram Micro drew one step closer to completion this week when the deal received the green light from U.S. antitrust officials. That keeps the acquisition on track to close by the end of this year.

Ingram Micro said this week that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) had given both parties clearance to proceed with the transaction.

Ingram Micro's shareholders have already approved the deal. The news boosted the distributor's stock price by more than 3 percent Tuesday morning.

Axway Aims To Boost IoT Channel With Data Integration Platform

Axway this week launched Axway Amplify, a new Internet of Things data integration and engagement platform that the company said will help channel partners discover and manage new IoT opportunities.

IoT remains a nascent and complex market and many solution providers are still figuring out the best way to jump in.

Axway said the Amplify platform offers a unified, secure environment, both for cloud and on-premise systems, for creating, running and scaling API-enabled services. That, in turn, provides a way for partners to monetize their vertical industry expertise.

Avaya Launches Streamlined Channel Program With Expanded Benefits

Avaya is transforming itself into a unified communications software and services vendor and it wisely recognizes that its channel partners will play a key role in helping the company get there.

This week Avaya launched Avaya Edge, the company's new partner program that offers more channel resources and enhanced partner benefits. It also provides five new tracks for different types of partners such as resellers, service providers, and solution providers targeting midmarket or enterprise customers. New incentives reward partners for specific achievements such as new product adoption, growth and customer value.

But it's not good news for every partner. Avaya has some 10,000 partners, but many of them are dormant, not contributing to Avaya's sales. A major initiative is under way to cut out these partners – as much as 30 percent of the partner roster.