CenturyLink's SAP Solution Provider Purchase Means More Managed Services Opportunities For Partners

CenturyLink's acquisition of solution provider Seal Consulting will help the telecom deepen its consulting services around SAP solutions, and CenturyLink partners will be able to profit from the new expertise, too.

Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink on Monday announced it would acquire Seal Consulting, an Edison, N.J.-based solution provider that specializes in implementing and supporting a wide range of SAP solutions, including SAP S/4HANA, SAP Business Suite, SAP CRM, SAP Basis, SAP Security, SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence supply chain management, and governance, risk and compliance solutions.

CenturyLink is no stranger to SAP. CenturyLink's chief enterprise relationship officer and president of its Advanced Solutions Group, Gary Gauba, was also the former Chairman and CEO of Cognilytics, before Centurylink acquired the predictive analytics, big data, and business intelligence solutions provider in 2014. The acquisition helped CenturyLink take its relationship to the next level, Gauba said. Today, CenturyLink is a global premium supplier partner for SAP and currently offers hosting for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud services.

[Related: CenturyLink Steps Up Its SAP Game, Scoops Up SAP Solution Provider Seal Consulting]

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The acquisition of Seal Consulting will let CenturyLink deepen its SAP expertise further, build out a more all-encompassing SAP portfolio, and also get into new verticals through SAP's solutions for the retail, healthcare, and manufacturing industries, Gauba told CRN.

For many carriers, such as CenturyLink and AT&T, the first entry into SAP is simply hosting the solutions for customers that wanted SAP hosted in a hardened environment. With Seal, CenturyLink can take its relationship with SAP up a notch, while offering consulting knowledge around the offerings, according to John Hudson, director of service provider solutions for Lumenate, a Dallas-based IT consulting firm and CenturyLink partner.

"I like this for CenturyLink because it's furthering their goals that they stated several years ago that they want to become not just a service provider, but a solutions provider," Hudson said.

Lumenate has many customers that use SAP solutions, but the company doesn't have its own practice around SAP. However, Lumenate would be interested if CenturyLink integrates SAP solutions and consulting services into its partner program, Hudson said.

"If it becomes channel-ready and we can get paid on it, I wouldn’t mind dipping my toes into that water," he said.

CenturyLink's bulked up SAP practice and consulting services will indeed mean more managed services offerings for its partner community, confirmed Gauba. As a result, partners will be able to earn new recurring revenue streams on SAP solutions and managed SAP services, he said.

"SAP is making innovations around big data, security, and IoT. It's very good for the entire ecosystem," Gauba said. "We are looking to drive more value, not only for our customers but for our partners and their customers, too."

While terms of the deal are not being revealed, Seal Consulting employees will become CenturyLink employees, giving the carrier and its partners access to an experienced team of SAP experts, Gauba said.

"The employees are a big reason why we made this acquisition," Gauba said. "This gives us more resources around our [existing] SAP offerings for partners and customers."

That deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.