EMC Buys Second Microsoft Solution Provider

Officials of the two companies said Thursday that EMC has acquired Interlink, an Englewood, Colo.-based professional services firm focusing on the Microsoft space, for an undisclosed amount.

And more channel acquisitions can be expected, said Todd Pavone, vice president of technology solutions at EMC. "For professional services, we feel the fastest way to grow is through acquisitions like this," he said. "We are also looking outside the Microsoft area into such spaces as SAP and Oracle, and horizontals like business continuity services."

The move to acquire Interlink follows EMC's acquisition in January of Internosis, a Greenbelt, Md.-based Microsoft solution provider.

Pavone said that between its acquisition of Internosis and Interlink, his company will now have more than 400 Microsoft services professionals, compared to only about 20 only a few months ago.

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That growth in Microsoft services capabilities is essential both to its channel partners and to its direct sales team as EMC moves to become a significant force in providing information lifecycle management (ILM) solutions in Microsoft application environments, including Exchange upgrades and deployment, SQL Server upgrades and deployment, and Lotus Notes-to-Exchange migrations, said Pavone. "Microsoft is critical to our success and growth," he said.

In March, EMC and Microsoft jointly unveiled a plan to invest in joint solution delivery and sales engagement support to accelerate customer adoption and simplify deployment of Microsoft applications and establish a worldwide network of partner account managers to drive joint engagement and solution delivery.

Interlink has about 180 employees in the Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, Ore., areas who generate a total of $20 million to $25 million in annual revenue, all of which comes from Microsoft services, said Bart Hammond, CEO of Interlink. The company is a five-time Microsoft Gold certified partner, he said.

As part of EMC, Interlink and Internosis complement each other in several ways, said Hammond. Internosis was Microsoft's 2005 East Coast partner of the year, while Interlink was the 2005 West Coast partner of the year. About half of Internosis' business came from the federal government and half from commercial and enterprise accounts, while Interlink has focused mainly on the commercial space with some enterprise business, he said.

While EMC is focusing much of its newfound professional services capabilities on its direct customers, it is also making the technology it has gained from its two solution provider acquisitions, including best practices and white papers, available to its channel partners, said Pavone.

Hammond said his organization is exactly what EMC needs to bring services-oriented technology to the channel.

For instance, he said Interlink authored a whitepaper on how to scale Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server for enterprisewide and nationwide deployment that will be available through EMC to its solution providers.

Interlink itself is no stranger to partnering with other channel players, said Hammond. The firm is part of what he called a "circle of trust" comprising services providers, technology solution providers, training organizations, and ISVs that come together to provide solutions. "To have the credential of EMC behind us will be a significant help to us," he said.