Park Place Buys Ardent For More Data Center Expertise

Cleveland-based Park Place Technologies bought Ardent Support Technologies, Dover, N.H., for an undisclosed sum, the companies said this week. Ardent provides third-party maintenance for data center hardware.

Park Place provides third-party maintenance for storage, servers and data center networks by offering post-warranty maintenance services. Park Place was founded in 1991 as a hardware reseller and now has, including the Ardent acquisition, about 475 employees and 6,500 customers across 90 countries, according to Park Place COO Chris Adams. The company's early days, including its journey from reseller to MSP, are covered in this 2006 CRN interview.

"They've been a strategic partner of ours for several years providing expertise on specific platforms that was a little deeper than what we previously had," Adams said of Ardent. As a company that is growing and providing 24-hour support to companies all over the globe, "you want that kind of depth," he told CRN.

Third-party maintenance is a fragmented but quickly growing market in North America, Adams said. The ability to provide global services is a strategic advantage, especially for customers who simply want one number to call and one company to support the dozens of different platforms in their data centers around the world.

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Solution providers often partner with third-party maintenance companies to provide ongoing warranty support for hardware that often costs less than what is provided by the OEMs.

Those relationships are growing, too, and, in less than five years, Gartner predicts that 80 percent of North American VARs will have active commission-based sales with at least one independent third-party maintenance provider.

Against that backdrop, Park Place has emerged as one of the few providers big enough to compete with Charlotte, N.C.-based Systems Maintenance Services and Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Curvature, two of the largest names in this space.

In a Gartner report published in March, Ardent was listed as having revenue of less than $10 million and Park Place's revenue was listed at north of $100 million. "We did have some customer overlap and [Ardent] had been growing to a point where they were starting to compete with us. They're in our industry so we picked up the revenue and effectively removed a competitor," Adams told CRN.

The company's customers range from small and midsize businesses to Fortune 500 organizations to government, higher-education and health-care institutions. Park Place supports storage, server and networking equipment across vendors such as Brocade, Cisco Systems, Dell EMC, Hitachi, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Juniper Networks, NetApp and Oracle. Gartner's report on third-party maintenance providers said two-thirds of Ardent's revenue came from supporting Dell EMC, HPE and NetApp products.

Park Place is now majority-owned by GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm that also holds stakes in network operator Zayo Group and XIFIN, a cloud software and services company. Park Place was one of CRN's Triple Crown Winners in 2016, meaning the company appeared in the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500, Fast Growth 150 and Tech Elite 250 lists.

Park Place's Ardent acquisition is the company's second strategic buy this year. "We've got a very robust pipeline," Adams said. He notes that GTCR's business model is to find growing companies in growing markets and that means Park Place won't be sitting still. "I expect that next year we'll do another two or three acquisitions," he said.