5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending Oct. 24

This week's roundup of companies that came to win include Apple's stellar fourth-quarter results; big venture financing wins by startups in the OpenStack and data warehouse arenas; cheers for AT&T's expanding partner program; and Microsoft's security technology plans for Windows 10.

Apple Posts Record 4 Q

Naysayers have been wringing their hands about Apple's slowing tablet sales and the lack of a blockbuster product in recent years. But there's no denying Apple remains an industry juggernaut after the company this week reported fourth-quarter revenue of $42.1 billion, up 12 percent, and net income of $8.5 billion.

Yes, demand for iPad tablets is declining (down 13 percent in the fourth quarter, year-over-year). But iPhone sales are surging, driven by the recently unveiled iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, reaching 39.3 million units in the fourth quarter (up from 33.8 million a year earlier). Mac sales are up 20 percent to 5.52 million units at a time when PC sales are dropping. iTunes generated quarterly sales of $4.6 billion. And there's lots of buzz around Apple Pay and the Apple Watch.

It's hard to find much wrong with a company that generated $182.8 billion in fiscal 2014 annual sales and net income of $39.5 billion (both up about 7 percent).

AT&T Wins Kudos From Partners For Channel Offensive

AT&T held its inaugural Partner Exchange Summit in Dallas this week, one of several moves solution provider partners said demonstrate the telecom giant's commitment to the channel.

AT&T launched its Partner Exchange program 18 months ago and earlier this year boosted the initiative's funding by $300 million. The telecom company also has been expanding the range of AT&T cloud, networking and mobility services the vendor's 200 channel partners can resell. Especially groundbreaking is the application programming interface platform AT&T offers that gives solution providers access to AT&T's core customer billing, product ordering and network monitoring systems.

Microsoft Promises Improved Security In Windows 10 With Two-Factor Authentication

Security, or more specifically security breaches and other horror stories, have been in the news a lot lately. So cheers to Microsoft's announcement this week that Windows 10 will offer two-factor authentication built right into the operating system, along with other identity protection and access control, information protection and threat resistance capabilities.

The Windows 10 security plans were unveiled Wednesday in a blog post by Jim Alcove, head of Windows enterprise program management. "With this release we will have nearly everything in place to move the world away from the use of single-factor authentication options, like passwords," Alcove wrote.

Microsoft also gets kudos this week for the $908 million in first-quarter revenue generated by its Surface Pro 3 tablet/laptop. That's quite a turnaround for Surface, which many critics declared dead-on-arrival when it debuted two years ago.

OpenStack Startup Mirantis Scores $100 Million In VC Financing

Mirantis, the provider of OpenStack-related software and services, raised a stunning $100 million in Series B venture financing this week. That's the biggest second-round investment ever in an open source software company, according to the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup, and one of the largest second-round investments in a B2B software vendor. Insight Venture Partners led the funding round.

Open Stack is an open-source cloud computing software that provides businesses with a way to easily deploy Infrastructure-as-a-Service solutions. Mirantis CEO said sales of his company's Open Stack distribution, along with related software, services, support and training, have accelerated from about $1 million in new business every month to $1 million every week.

Startup Snowflake Computing Challenges Data Warehouse Status Quo

Mirantis wasn't the only startup making waves this week. Snowflake Computing, which is developing on-demand data warehousing services, launched with a lot of fanfare this week and revealed that it has raised $26 million in two rounds of venture financing.

Today the $10 billion market for data warehouse technology and services is largely dominated by major vendors such as Oracle, IBM and Teradata, while Amazon Web services and Google are the heavy hitters in cloud-delivered data warehouse services. Snowflake, with former Microsoft and Juniper Networks executive Bob Muglia (pictured) in the CEO post, is taking them all on with its Snowflake Elastic Data Warehouse, which the company said is more flexible and easier to manage than the competition.