5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending Oct. 18

This week's roundup of companies that came to win include Ixia Communications naming its first channel chief, Avaya releasing its latest version of IP Office and Microsoft offering Office 365 to students. Also, Lenovo introduces a new Windows 8 tablet that's already turning heads and Unitrends inks a partnership with Tech Data.

Ixia Communications Names First Channel Chief

Ixia Communications found its first-ever worldwide channel chief Monday in former Juniper Networks executive Lori Cornmesser, who is leaving Juniper after an 11-year stint. Cornmesser most recently headed up Juniper's partner enablement efforts.

"I wasn't necessarily looking to make a move," Cornmesser told CRN. "And I made a conscious decision that I didn't want to go out and compete with a company I helped build for 11 years. Ixia really fit all the things I was looking for in terms of my next move."

Cornmesser's new official title is vice president of global channel sales. She said she looks forward to implementing a formalized partner program for Ixia's roughly 100 global partners.

"We are going to be a launching a new program at the end of the year that will allow partners to differentiate themselves in the market," Cornmesser said.

Avaya Introduces Latest Version Of IP Office

Avaya Tuesday introduced a new batch of collaboration offerings, including IP Office 9.0, which it said will help partners target midmarket customers. IP Office 9.0 can scale to support up to 2,000 users, double that of IP Office 8.1 (pictured).

"I really believe we have the complete midmarket covered at this point. You can go all the way down to five users, and all the way up to 2,000," said Gary Barnett, senior vice president and general manager, Collaboration, for Avaya.

Ed Dolan, executive vice president of DJJ Technologies, cheered Avaya's latest release.

"DJJ Technologies is extremely excited about [IP Office] 9.0 and expanding the capabilities to 2,000 seats," Dolan told CRN.

Microsoft Offering Office 365 Free For Students

Microsoft said Tuesday that is leveraging its Office 365 product by offering it to students for free -- as long as their schools also purchase it for their faculty and staff. The program is called "Student Advantage" and gives students access to Office 365 ProPlus, which costs $144 per user annually. Microsoft said 35,000 academic institutions are eligible for this offer.

"Student Advantage makes it easy for qualifying institutions to provide students with the latest version of full Office at school and at home," Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft, said in a blog post.

This move is the latest in Microsoft's battle with Google for control of the education market. Just last week, Google unveiled Chromebooks aimed at that market. Under the Google education sales program, schools receive the Google Apps for Education offering for free, which includes Web-based email, calendar and documents for collaborative study.

Lenovo Unveils New Low-Priced Miix Tablet

Lenovo Wednesday introduced a new Windows 8 tablet, the Miix 2, which is built around Intel's latest Bay Trail-T Atom-based processor. With a price tag starting at $299, it is one of the lowest-costing Windows tablets on the market and aims to be a major competitor to Dell's new Venue line of tablets.

The CRN Test Center didn't mince words when summarizing this new tablet, saying "Lenovo packs about as much value into the Miix 2 as is available for a price tag that's hard to beat.’

The Miix 2 is set to be available at the end of the month.

Unitrends Pushes Toward Channel With Tech Data Partnership

Unitrends and Tech Data revealed a partnership Tuesday through which Tech Data customers will be able to access Unitrends' all-in-one backup, archiving, instant recovery and disaster recovery solutions. For its part, Unitrends will now be exposed to a larger group of resellers and MSPs.

Unitrends has grown from 55 percent channel sales to 70 percent channel sales in the past 18 months and now boasts approximately 500 partners.

"This is something new and different for us. [The channel program] is going to be something we are going to want to continue to build on," said Unitrends Channel Chief Bob Gagnon. "We're trying to get a seedling environment where people are starting to use the product."