5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending Dec. 9

Topping this week's roundup of companies that came to win is Optiv Security, which said private equity giant KKR & Co. intends to acquire it, helping the solution provider expand globally through acquisitions.

Also making the list were Xerox, which said it will push tens of thousands of direct accounts to the channel; ePlus, which is aiming to expand in the Midwest after acquiring the IT services equipment and integration business of Consolidated Communications Holdings; security startup Cylance, which hired a top-level marketing executive from Symantec; and Microsoft, which said it would offer free training and discounted certifications for its Azure cloud platform.

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.

Optiv Security Acquired By Private Equity Giant KKR

Security solution provider giant Optiv Security is changing private equity hands, announcing that KKR & Co. intends to acquire it. Under the terms of the deal, KKR will own a majority stake in Denver-based Optiv, adding it to an $18 billion portfolio that includes a number of information security companies, including Darktrace, Ping Identity and Cylance. The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

Optiv CEO Dan Burns said the deal would enable his company to grow globally through acquisitions. He said he's looking at buyout targets in Europe first, then Asia, and possibly South America in two to three years.

Xerox Aims To Push More Business To The Channel

Xerox plans to transfer tens of thousands of directly served upper midmarket and smaller enterprise accounts to channel partners because the company has "a lot more business with more accounts" than the company's incoming North America leader would like his sales force to focus on. "We're looking at those accounts that are considered below big, large enterprise and moving those to channel partners," Mike Feldman told CRN.

Feldman will assume his new role next month, after Xerox splits off its $7 billion business process outsourcing division -- which will be renamed Conduent – from its $11 billion document technology business, which will retain the Xerox name.

ePlus Expands In Midwest Via Acquisition

Solution provider giant ePlus Technology acquired the IT services equipment and integration business of Consolidated Communications Holdings in a move ePlus said would expand its geographic reach into the Upper Midwest.

Consolidated IT Services, based in Minneapolis, is a Cisco Gold partner. The acquisition helps ePlus – also a Cisco partner – grow its practice around that vendor's products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. As part of the transaction, ePlus -- No. 34 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list -- and the division it's buying, Consolidated Communications Enterprise Services Inc., struck a co-marketing agreement to sell each other's products and services to their customers.

Cylance Lures Symantec's Channel Marketing VP

As competition between the two heats up, security startup Cylance has stolen away a top channel marketing executive from Symantec. Cylance appointed May Mitchell as vice president, marketing, for worldwide field and channel marketing.

Mitchell left Symantec Dec. 2 and started at Cylance two days later. She previously served as vice president, worldwide field and channel marketing at Symantec, a position she had held since October 2013. Symantec declined to comment on the departure, but did confirm that Mitchell's role has been filled by Muffin Mott, who now holds the title of head of global channel marketing. Mott has been in that role since September, the company said, after holding the same job at Blue Coat Systems.

Microsoft Rolls Out Free Azure Training

To help its channel partners respond to surging demand for Microsoft Azure, Microsoft is offering free training courses and discounted certifications for its public cloud platform, the company's global channel chief, Gavriella Schuster, said. The free training offer will include 12 new Massive Open Online Courses for IT professionals, said Schuster, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group.

Microsoft said it's also offering a "major discount" on Microsoft Certified Professional exams that are focused on Azure, costing $99 for a single Azure-focused exam -- down from $165 -- and $279 for three Azure-focused exams.