GreenPages Is On The Acquisition Trail

GreenPages Technology Solutions CEO Ron Dupler says the $110 million services power is on the acquisition trail as it mounts a hybrid cloud enablement offensive with its Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS) offering.

“We are definitely looking at making other acquisitions,” said Dupler in an interview with CRN at the company’s 17th annual technology summit at the Sheraton Harborside in Portsmouth, N.H. “We see solution providers that understand the need to drive forward into a hybrid cloud world and want to jump on the wagon with us and move forward into the future, like Qoncert this year and LogicsOne last year. We continue to be in active discussions around acquisitions.”

[Related: GreenPages' Cloud Management Service Is Gaining Momentum]

Just last month, Kittery, Maine-based GreenPages, No. 153 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 list, acquired Tampa, Fla.- based Cisco partner Qoncert. The deal combines GreenPages LogicsOne, Cisco’s 2013 SMB Partner of the Year (Americas East), with the Cisco 2012 Southeast Commercial Partner of the Year. In March 2012, GreenPages acquired LogicsOne, an Atlanta-based managed services provider that added advanced virtualization and cloud consulting and management talent.

The Qoncert deal brings the combined GreenPages -LogicsOne’s unified communications and collaboration technical team to more than 90. That additional technical talent is key as GreenPages mounts its CMaaS sales offensive, said Dupler.

“The skill sets within our technology team continue to change,” said Dupler. “The technical team is scaling. We are in hiring mode.”

GreenPages’ decision to look closely at additional strategic acquisitions comes as it is establishing its LogicsOne consulting organization as a separate brand to make the GreenPages CMaaS platform available to other solution providers, ISVs and OEMs through a “powered by LogicsOne” model.

Dupler said the dramatic pace of change in the IT market has many traditional solution providers looking at making a deal to compete in the hybrid cloud era. “This has never been an easy industry,” said Dupler. “It is not for the faint of heart. Solution providers understand the world is changing and they need to migrate their business models. Sometimes they lack the financial resources and talent to make that migration. But they get what is going on. Those are the type of solution providers that are good candidates for us to be speaking with either to partner with or acquire.”

Dupler called GreenPages’ acquisition offensive a “smart scale” strategy. “We don’t buy to get big,” he said. “We buy to add capabilities or to establish new marquee customer relationships. This is not a roll-up. We make moves when it fits in for the strategic building of our business.”

Dupler has made the GreenPages CMaaS product, which was brought to market in January, the centerpiece of an ambitious five-year plan to build a $300 million business. He forecasts CMaaS will grow at an astronomical 857 percent rate over the next five years. That is expected to drive GreenPages’ annuity-based services from $7 million today to $60 million in 2018.

“We have been very forward leaning with cloud,” said Dupler. “We have made the investments. We have got the hybrid cloud enablement skills. We have solutions that the market needs right now and’ when we look around at the demographics of the VAR community’ you have got two types of companies: companies that don’t have the size , scale and resources to really make those investments and make the shift (to hybrid cloud) and some larger companies that either didn’t believe it or didn’t see it and now have customers that need help. We have a solution that can add a lot of value for them and their clients.”


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Pros And Cons Of SAP’s Managed-Cloud-As-A-Service

SAP is taking a bold approach with its new cloud and managed services model that essentially turns partners into end-user customers.

SAP’s Managed-Cloud-as-a-Service (MCaaS) strategy gives solution providers complete control of customer relationships for cloud delivery of SAP, but at a price: SAP sells the enterprise software licenses directly to the partner, who then turns the software into a cloud service for its clients.

The pros are obvious: a solution provider can deliver SAP products as Software-as-a-Service or cloud applications without any interference or reliance from the vendor, and with little worry that SAP could somehow swoop in a take those clients direct — under the MCaaS model, the partner is the name on the licensing contract so SAP has no information about the end-user client.

[Related: SAP's Gilroy On Recruitment: We Want Partners With Working Capital]

The major con, however, is a big one: Partners must have considerable cash on hand to buy the enterprise licenses themselves. And as SAP partners already know, SAP software isn’t cheap.

But SAP believes the pros will ultimately outweigh the cons. Kevin Chew, group vice president of Managed Cloud as a Service Technology Alliances for SAP, said a growing number of partners already are exploring the MCaaS model.

“It’s growing meteorically because there are a lot of tailwinds pushing MCaaS,” Chew said. “Clients like the model because they get SAP software through ‘opex’ [operational expenditures] and not ‘capex’ [capital expenditures]. And partners like it because it gets them into the cloud with a recurring revenue stream.”

Chew said another big advantage of the MCaaS approach is that partners can provide more services around the software rather than just hosting the SaaS offering. “There’s very low margin and low value in just hosting the software,” Chew said. “But when the partner owns the software license, they can provide all of the service and support around it, too.”

SAP heavily promoted the MCaaS model during the SAP Partner Leadership Summit last week in Hollywood, Fla., and the company is hoping to recruit more cloud-focused solution providers and systems integrators for the strategy.

But virtually all of the partners adopting the MCaaS model are managed service providers and cloud solution providers, Chew said, rather than traditional software resellers. “It’s not the software VARs that are moving to MCaaS,” he said. “It’s the guys that are already doing hosting and off-premise services. Even if a software reseller knows SAP software really well, hosting isn’t their core competency.”

Arvind Singh, president and CEO of Utopia, a top SAP partner based in Mundelein, Ill., said he finds the MCaaS model compelling. Utopia already has fully embraced SAP’s Hana platform for big data cloud solutions but Arvind sees challenges for putting SAP applications in the cloud with MCaaS.

“It’s an interesting approach,” Singh said. “On one hand, it’s nice to have to have total ownership of the customer from the cloud perspective. But on the other hand, enterprise software licenses are expensive.”

To that end, SAP is exploring more financing options for partners to help them secure the enterprise software licenses. SAP channel chief Kevin Gilroy told CRN that his company wants to work with distribution partners to bring more “creative, flexible financing” to channel partners.

“I think in the cloud, and in fast-growth partnerships like with SAP, we need to figure out with partners and potentially with distribution what the playbook is today for capitalizing the channel,” Gilroy said. “The traditional way of capitalizing the channel would be getting credit lines through distributors. But with complex software that’s a little bit more complicated.”


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Avnet Expands Cloud Offerings With New PeakColo Distribution Partnership

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Avnet Technology Solutions has entered into a new distribution partnership with Denver-based cloud provider PeakColo, the Tempe, Ariz.-based IT solutions distributor said Monday. The partnership will make Peak’s cloud services platform more readily available to channel partners. In addition, Avnet introduced its first cloud solution powered by Peak that features NetApp(R) Private Storage for Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Cloud Accelerator Program Powered by Peak combines the flexibility of AWS with NetApp’s enterprise storage and is a full operational expense model, according to Tim FitzGerald, vice president of Avnet. The solution allows channel partners to white-label Peak’s cloud, enabling them to offer cloud services by integrating PeakColo’s enterprise-class cloud services platform, he said.

“What PeakColo provides is the technology for a [cloud] solution but consumed in a way that doesn’t require customers to own it,” said FitzGerald. “It allows end customers to sign contracts that could be as short as 12 months for the services built on NetApp Private Storage for AWS.”

[Related: Related:The 10 Coolest Cloud Startups of 2013 (So Far)]

As the world of IT expands, channel partners will ultimately benefit from this solution because it will speed the time to market and lower costs, said Fitzgerald.

“It helps those partners get to market faster with a compelling solution and it takes the [capital] cost out of them [allowing them to become] more competent in cloud solutions,” said FitzGerald.

According to FitzGerald, Avnet’s existing solutions fall into seven different categories, including backup and disaster recovery, productivity, test and development, security, application hosting and management, remote management and monitoring, and data center as a service. The NetApp Private Storage AWS cloud solution will address customers’ challenges with IT infrastructure, including disaster recovery, storage and backup, production workloads and networking. Readily available, enterprises will be able to access the solution through Avnet’s channel community without having to purchase additional hardware or software.

“PeakColo works as the infrastructure-as-a-service [IaaS] platform that provides a unique opportunity for overall solutions to be brought to market under the partners’ brand,” said FitzGerald. “It allows partners to add services over and above what PeakColo and Avnet are providing to that partner, and gives increased profitability and a longer-term strategic partnership with their end customer.”

NEXT: Leveraging The Channel






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