Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

Microsoft pledged to match rival Amazon Web Services (AWS) prices on cloud compute and storage services and fired the first shot in what could become a price war by reducing the cost of its virtual machines and cloud services by 21 to 33 percent.

The no-holds-barred pricing move came as Microsoft announced the general availability of its Windows Azure Infrastructure Services platform, a head-to-head competitor to AWS.

Microsoft has been providing the Azure IaaS service in preview mode since June. But, the general availability announcement means businesses can subscribe to the Azure IaaS service and get support and service-level agreements (SLAs) of 99.95 percent uptime.

Microsoft partners that have been working with the cloud infrastructure services during its lengthy trial period say the move will help them offer customers lower-cost cloud application and development/testing services that promise higher reliability and uptime than on-premise IT.

Top executives in Hewlett-Packard's security business have launched a multimillion dollar channel sales offensive with a soon-to-be-released managed security services program that has already attracted a $15 million investment from systems integration giant Computer Sciences Corp.

In an exclusive interview with CRN, the company's top channel executives said the new MSP channel program for HP's ArcSight security, information and event management appliances and its Fortify security software business will be formally launched in the next six months. HP says it already has about 55 MSPs that are interested in partnering on the security subscription-based offering including $16 billion services behemoth CSC.

The channel restructuring and MSP program launch are being overseen by two executives with a long history in the security industry: Rick Hanson, vice president of global sales and field operations at HP Enterprise Security, and Eli J. Kalil, vice president of HP Enterprise Security global sales channels.

Intel has added Web services management muscle to its arsenal by acquiring Mashery, a San Francisco-based startup focused on API management. Intel confirmed the acquisition in a statement to CRN. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Intel said the acquisition is expected to close sometime during the current quarter. Mashery specializes in API management and offers a SaaS-based platform that helps businesses craft APIs to attract developers; the platform includes reporting analytics, a dedicated developer portal and an API control center. Some of Mashery's notable clients include Best Buy, Comcast, Coca-Cola Enterprises and The New York Times.

"This acquisition is the next step in building an integrated Intel suite of services (cloud services, digital store fronts, location services, network services and security)," Intel's statement read. "Mashery brings technology and expertise in the management and exposure of enterprise APIs. Mashery's expertise in key verticals will enable Intel to further provide user experiences enhanced by service capabilities."

Gainsight, a developer of predictive analytics software, raised $9 million in Series A funding this week from investors led by Battery Ventures. The company also said that Nick Mehta, previously CEO of email archiving company LiveOffice, is Gainsight's new CEO.

Founder Jim Eberlin is now president and will focus on product strategy and sales development, the company said. The Gainsight name is a change from the company's original name, JBara Software.

Gainsight will use the funding to accelerate its product development work and "drive its aggressive go-to-market strategy," the company said in a statement.

McAfee is continuing to make strides with its channel program, addressing partner concerns with a revamped portal, continuous outreach and incentives that help level the playing field between its direct sales reps and partners.

Gavin Struthers, senior vice president of worldwide channels at McAfee, said as a result of the changes, the company is seeing double-digit growth from its most committed channel partners. McAfee has been weeding out partners that do not meet certification requirements.

Struthers and other McAfee executives were in New York this week, talking with some of its more than 2,000 partners to get feedback on the channel program.

Some partners are finding success by choosing to commit to three or more McAfee products, selling the company's ePolicy Orchestrator and pieces of the product portfolio that integrate with the management console, said Struthers. McAfee is seeing 30 percent growth in deals of more than $1 million, which typically include three or more products.