5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

This week's roundup of companies that came to win include a huge venture capital win for a converged infrastructure startup, Microsoft's next step to becoming a player in mobile phones, Salesforce's bid for mobile application developers, a key cloud acquisition by the No. 3 telecom vendor, and continued channel loyalty from the world's biggest IT vendor.

Converged infrastructure system upstart SimpliVity caught everyone's attention this week when it raised $58 million in C-round venture funding. The Westborough, Mass.-based company, which has raised $101 million in total, plans to use the new financing to expand its research and development efforts, and staff up sales and marketing.

The company is expecting 500 percent sales growth in 2014 for its OminCube systems, which combine the company's OmniStack software with commodity server, storage and networking hardware in a single box.

The company is pursuing a 100 percent channel sales model and plans to double its current stable of 100 partners next year.

Microsoft's efforts to become a player in the smartphone market took a small but significant step this week when Nokia shareholders nearly unanimously approved Microsoft's $7.2 billion acquisition of the Finnish smartphone company's device and services operations. The parties expect to complete the deal in early 2014.

Microsoft is betting that Nokia will be the hardware key in putting its Windows Phone operating system on a more competitive footing against Apple's iOS and Google Android. As of the end of the third calendar quarter, Windows phones accounted for only 3.6 percent of the worldwide market.

Nokia is a critical element of Microsoft's planned evolution to become a devices and services company over the next few years.

Hewlett-Packard executives from CEO Meg Whitman on down have been stressing the company's channel commitment lately. But channel partners still like to hear it.

So solution providers were eager to hear from Paul Reid, HP director of specialty channel sales, at this week's Synnex Varnex conference. Reid highlighted HP's channel priorities, as laid out by Whitman, and outlined changes the vendor has made to the PartnerOne program in response to partner feedback. Those include giving partners more time to spend market development funds and assigning a single representative to a partner account rather than multiple reps from multiple departments.

"The priorities are all around, and focused on how we can drive more business through the channel," Reid said.

Salesforce.com, which welcomed 100,000-plus attendees to its Dreamforce conference in San Francisco this week, moved to help customers and ISVs more easily develop mobile applications that can access data in Salesforce systems.

At Dreamforce, Salesforce launched its Salesforce1 platform, pitching it as a tool for the company's base of 1.4 million developers (up 75 percent in the last year) to build mobile applications. CEO Marc Benioff (pictured), in his keynote, touted the broad range of APIs in Salesforce1 that are available for development partners.

"Building mobile apps is hard. You need more APIs available in your environment than ever before," Benioff said. "The software we build in 1999 runs great on PCs and laptops, but we need to be the Amazon of mobile devices."

Telecom giant CenturyLink significantly bulked up its enterprise cloud services portfolio this week when it bought public cloud service provider Tier 3. Tier 3's products will serve as the foundation for CenturyLink's overall cloud strategy going forward.

Tier 3's technology, which includes Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technology, also will become the foundation for CenturyLink's new cloud development center in Seattle. CenturyLink's 52 worldwide data centers, in turn, will better Tier 3's cloud platform to handle complex enterprise workloads.