5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending April 29

Topping this week's roundup of companies that came to win is Amazon Web Services, for its blowout fourth quarter.

Also making the list were Cognizant, for its savvy investment in a behavioral consulting firm; Google, for extending its initiative to attract competitors' customers to its Google Apps; Dell, for hiring an EMC channel veteran; and Juniper Networks, for the next-generation firewall technology it launched this week.

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 Five Companies That Had A Rough Week roundup.

AWS Drives Amazon's Most Profitable Quarter Ever

Amazon reported the most profitable quarter in its 21-year history Thursday and its Amazon Web Services cloud business was the star of the show.

AWS generated revenue of nearly $2.6 billion in Amazon's fiscal fourth quarter (ended March 31), up 64 percent year over year, while operating income spiked to $604 million from $195 million.

AWS' operating margin was 23.5 percent, compared with 16.9 percent one year earlier. That resulted in the cloud unit's being responsible for around 60 percent of Amazon's operating income in the quarter, even though it generated only about 9 percent of Amazon's overall sales.

Cognizant Buys Stake In 70-Person Behavioral Consulting Firm

As solution providers transform themselves into strategic service providers, the range of services customers are demanding from the channel continues to grow. Sometimes that means solution providers have to expand their capabilities through acquisitions and outside investments: Last week we high-fived Perficient's $40 million acquisition of a digital agency for doing just that.

This week, Cognizant took this a big step further by acquiring a minority stake in ReD Associates, a 70-person behavioral consulting firm that has helped companies like Ford, Intel, Adidas and Samsung apply behavioral insights to business strategy. ReD has the potential to help Cognizant help its customers better understand how people interact with cutting-edge IT.

Customers are asking strategic service providers to go way beyond core IT services like implementation and IT strategy development to include marrying IT with marketing tasks like creative design and search engine optimization. By accessing ReD's behavioral consulting expertise, Cognizant may take its strategic service offerings to a whole new level.

Google Extends Program Offering Customer Incentives To Defect From Office 365

Last year, we gave kudos to Google for its aggressive program to lure away customers from rival cloud-based productivity applications (cough, cough, Microsoft Office 365) by allowing them to use Google Apps at no cost until their contracts with those competitors expired.

So double kudos to Google, which announced this week that the program has been so successful that it is extending the duration of the program from its scheduled end this month to the end of the year. And Google is expanding the initiative, which originally targeted midsize customers, by making it easier for smaller companies (with as few as 100 employees) to qualify.

Google said more than 20,000 midsize companies have taken advantage of the program, which also provides vouchers to help cover deployment and data migration costs for customers moving to Google Apps. All this is good news for Google partners who sell to small and midsize customers.

Partners Applaud Dell Hire Of EMC Channel Veteran

Dell this week named Pete Koliopoulos, a channel veteran who played a key role in EMC's early channel transformation, as vice president of global channels and alliances for Dell Software's systems and information management group.

The appointment comes as Dell refines its channel strategy as it moves to complete its $67 billion acquisition of EMC.

Dell partners viewed the appointment as a sign that Dell's channel model will embrace the best of both the Dell and EMC channel strategies. One said Koliopoulos was a huge advocate for partners at a time when EMC was transitioning from a direct sales culture to a channel sales culture.

Juniper Networks Steps Up Its Game In The Security Firewall Arena

Juniper Networks threw down the gauntlet in the security market this week by enhancing its Software-Defined Secure Networks (SDSN) framework, a move that opens up new software revenue opportunities for channel partners and aims to gain a competitive technology edge against such rivals as Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet and Check Point Software Technologies.

Specifically, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based networking vendor launched a new compact and containerized SRX controlled firewall called the cSRX and enhanced its vSRX firewall to support 100 Gbps per second for its SDSN framework.

Juniper said it's the first company to provide a firewall for the container environment. And one partner said the performance of the enhanced vSRX was "absolutely ridiculous -- in a good way." The new and enhanced products should help Juniper partners sell in more software environments and become trusted advisers by designing end-to-end networking security solutions.