Cisco Channel M&A: Top Chicago Partners Merge

Global Enterprise Technologies (GET) and Netrix, two well-known Chicago-area Cisco solution providers, confirmed Friday that they will merge, creating a Cisco Gold powerhouse spanning networking, data center, collaboration, virtualization, cloud and managed services.

It's the latest instance of continuing M&A among Cisco and other networking-focused solution providers, many of which have sought acquisition or teamed with fellow VARs and integrators in the past two years to expand their overall capabilities.

Financial terms were not provided. GET, a Cherry Valley, Ill.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner founded in 1998, covers enterprise networking and also operates a 24/7/365 network operations center among other assets. Netrix, Bannockburn, Ill.- based solution provider founded in 1989, is a Cisco Silver partner and a CRN Solution Provider 500 regular (this year ranked No. 418), and does custom app and Web development and offers co-location and hosted infrastructure in addition to virtualization, storage and other data center specialties.

[Related: SP500 M&A: 20 Networking Channel Acquisitions Worth Watching ]

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In a statement, GET and Netrix indicated that the merger would align with Cisco's vision of providing clients with end-to-end networking, data center and cloud infrastructure solutions.

"The way our clients are working and collaborating today is different than 5-10 years ago," Mike Gleason, GET's managing director, said in a statement. "Customers want a partner that can look at their business challenges, understand how they leverage technology to run their business, provide insight and then execute on a technology strategy to help them turn IT from a cost center to a profit center."

The combined solution provider will boast Cisco's Advanced Borderless Networks Architecture specialization, Advanced Collaboration Architecture specialization and Advanced Data Center specialization, the companies said. GET and Netrix also have Cisco WebEx, IronPort, TelePresence and ATP TelePresence Video Express authorizations between them.

"We've known and worked with the management teams at GET for more than a decade. We've had intimate knowledge of their business and leadership," said Tony Donato, Netrix managing partner. "In any strategic merger, culture is number one. There is zero doubt about our cultural fit. The new organization is a product of complementary environments. Netrix and GET have now doubled the engineering capabilities, services offerings and the infrastructure to expand our market share."

NEXT: Cisco Gold Partners Team Up

Several other top Cisco Gold partners have made similar M&A deals in the past year. Some of the best-known examples include Presidio's acquisition of BlueWater Communications Group, ePlus' various acquisitions, including of former West Coast Cisco power Pacific Blue Micro, and the merger of top Canadian VARs Softchoice and Unis Lumin.

Cisco itself doesn't publicly bless the deals, but behind the scenes, Cisco executives are active in making recommendations to solution providers and assisting with due diligence, multiple VAR sources have told CRN. Cisco is also urging Gold- and Silver-level partners to consider M&A as a way to bulk up their capabilities and align with Cisco's cross-portfolio architecture approach to the market.

Rob Lloyd, Cisco executive vice president, worldwide operations, told CRN during several interviews over the past year that Cisco expects M&A among its partners to continue apace.

"I'd anticipate the consolidation trend will continue," Lloyd said in April. "I'd anticipate that because we're the market leader, and many of those companies that will become part of bigger organizations will be in the Cisco channel. We're the market leader. We're very supportive of making this happen relative to the role we can play in making the right things happen. So we will see a constant drumbeat of consolidation as the market becomes more relevant and companies serving these customers look at expanding their capabilities."