5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending Oct. 25

This week's roundup of the companies that came to win include some good news (for a change) for Microsoft on the Surface tablet front, NetSuite's aggressive moves to capitalize on SAP's cloud app pullback, a competitive challenge to Amazon Web Services, big venture funding for a big data startup, and Department of Defense wins for two major software vendors.

Microsoft Surprises With Surface Sales Growth

Sales of Microsoft's Surface tablets reached $400 million in the first fiscal quarter, the company said Thursday, providing some evidence that the often-maligned devices may be gaining some market traction.

Microsoft reported overall sales growth of nearly 16 percent to $18.53 billion for the quarter and 11 percent growth in profits to $5.24 billion. The results included solid growth in the company's enterprise software business and high renewal rates for Enterprise Agreement volume licensing contracts.

But it was the Surface sales that surprised. Microsoft sold twice as many Surface tablets in the quarter as in the previous quarter, CFO Amy Hood said during Thursday's earnings call, the first time Microsoft has broken out sales data for the tablet devices. While the Surface Pro seemed to be more popular, Hood said Surface RT sales also did "quite well" in the quarter. All this indicates Microsoft has some momentum heading into the crucial holiday season.

NetSuite Moves To Capitalize On SAP Business ByDesign Pullback

When word leaked out this week that SAP was scaling back development of its Business ByDesign cloud application suite, rival NetSuite was a winner by default given that NetSuite's own cloud applications were Business ByDesign's closest competitor.

"What they once positioned as their 'NetSuite killer' is itself being killed off," NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson crowed during an earnings call with financial analysts. "SAP admitted that after seven years and billions of Euros of investment in Business ByDesign, they are de-committing from that cloud-based product."

But NetSuite went beyond just trumpeting the competitive turnabout. Looking to capitalize on SAP's decision, the company launched what it called the "SAP Business ByDesign Sunset Migration Program" under which it's offering Business ByDesign customers a one-year free subscription to NetSuite's cloud applications and free data migration to speed the transition.

Eucalyptus Takes On Amazon With Private Cloud Software

Talk about David versus Goliath: Eucalyptus is pitching its private cloud software as an alternative to Amazon Web Services, the giant company's public cloud offering.

This week Eucalyptus unveiled a release of its private cloud software that the company said is a potentially cheaper alternative to AWS. "Deploying workloads at scale in the public cloud can be quite expensive over time," Andy Knosp, vice president of product at Eucalyptus, told CRN in a recent interview. "Some organizations feel they can get all the same benefits of the public cloud from a private cloud."

Eucalyptus is walking something of a marketing tightrope here because it has a partnership with AWS, established in March 2012, under which it uses the AWS API to link its private cloud software with the AWS public cloud. That allows customers to develop hybrid cloud systems and move workloads back and forth between the two.

Google, Microsoft Score Cloud Software Wins With The Pentagon

Google and Microsoft are rivals in the competitive market for cloud personal productivity applications. But this week both could claim victories in selling those services to the U.S. Department of Defense.

This week both companies said they had won approval to each sell 50,000 seats of their cloud software to the DoD. Microsoft, working with partner Dell, can sell 50,000 Office 365 seats under a blanket purchase agreement approved by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems. The U.S. Army also will offer Google Apps to 50,000 Army and DoD personnel.

Big Data Startup Nutonian Lands $4 Million In VC Funding

There's been a lot of venture capital funding thrown at big data startups in the past year or two. This week the winner was Nutonian, a Boston-based big data analytics startup whose software is used to find and explain correlations and trends within huge volumes of data.

Nutonian said it raised $4 million in first-round funding, money the company plans to use to further develop its Eureqa software.

Eureqa goes beyond traditional machine learning analytics by not only finding unseen relationships in big data but also explaining why a particular prediction is being made, Michael Schmidt, founder and CEO of Nutonian, told CRN.