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EMC Extends Reach With Consultant Deal

Acquisition of New Jersey-based BusinessEdge Soutions will not reduce channel focus, EMC says.

"We're a hardware business," said Tom Roloff, vice president of strategy and business development at EMC Global Services. "We don't do services for services sake. We'd like to see our partners do more."

EMC on Thursday closed its acquisition of BusinessEdge Solutions, a privately held business and technology consulting firm based in East Brunswick, N.J. Financial details of the acquisition were not released.

Services account for about 16 percent of EMC's revenue, which Wall Street expects to be about $12.7 billion in 2007, Roloff said.

Roloff said EMC Global Services offers four types of services: remote support and patches, mainly on the software side but more and more on the hardware side; on-site maintenance and support/ professional implementation services for EMC hardware and software products; and consulting and solutions integration independent of a product sale.

It is in the latter area where BusinessEdge will fit, Roloff said.

Some of EMC's services are focused on data center infrastructure, some on specific application domains such as Microsoft products, and some on information management, Roloff said.

"BusinessEdge is our way into information management," he said. "BusinessEdge talks to customers about their problems, architects solutions, and fits existing and new architectures together."

The information management space is a huge market, and so the chance of an acquisition like that of BusinessEdge causing conflict with a channel partner is negligible, Roloff said.

"I don't see the size of this acquisition as anything our partners need to worry about," he said. "And this is not indicating us moving into any new directions."

Keith Norbie, director of the storage division of Nexus Information Systems, a Plymouth, Minn.-based solution provider and EMC partner, agreed that there is little to be concerned about when EMC acquires a company like BusinessEdge.

"Nothing worries me, unless I fall asleep at the wheel," Norbie said. "I'm not worked up about things like that. I just want to be good with my customers."

EMC's services are not set up to compete with the channel in the commercial space, Norbie said. "In fact, this year they have been taking away quotas for services from direct sales and trying to move more to their VARs," he said.

However, on the enterprise side, which is more in line with EMC's direct sales force, any move to increase services could get a mixed reaction from channel partners, Norbie said.

"Where EMC starts building out VMware services, for instance, then there is perceived competition," he said. "But whether it's real or not differs from VAR to VAR."

EMC has been building its professional services capabilities, especially in the Microsoft application market, with several recent solution provider acquisitions.

In January 2006, the company acquired Internosis, a 300-man Greenbelt, Md.-based Microsoft solution provider.

It followed that with an acquisition in the following May of Interlink Group, an Englewood, Colo.-based Microsoft solution provider.

Last month, EMC acquired Geniant, a Dallas-based Microsoft solution provider with offices in Texas, Okla. and Kansas City, in order to bring its services to a wider geographic area, Roloff said.

A lot of EMC's channel partners have a lot of Microsoft technology experience, but Roloff said he doesn't see a lot of them tying Microsoft and EMC together.

"We'd like to see them do that, but we don't see it much," he said. "Most of our storage partners are not connecting EMC storage to Microsoft technology, but we'd like to seem them do it."

While EMC still focuses on hardware, it would like to continue to grow its services business, Roloff said. "We want to buy our way, build our way, or partner our way into more services," he said.

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