Cloud consulting services attract investor dollars

A spate of deals involving Ensono, Ahead, Upstack and Syntax reflects growing confidence in cloud consulting firms; other IT channel news.

Private equity investment continues to flood the service provider sector, with four deals this week highlighting the lure of cloud consulting services.

In one cloud services transaction, KKR & Co. Inc., an investment company known for its leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco, agreed to acquire Ensono, a cloud and hybrid IT services firm based in Downers Grove, Ill. The transaction, which will transfer Ensono's ownership from current investors Charlesbank Capital Partners and M/C Partners, is expected to close within 60 days.

Ensono just last week acquired cloud-native development firm Amido.

In another deal, Ahead, a PE-backed cloud solutions provider based in Chicago, purchased Vertical Trail, a data and analytics consulting firm based in Schaumburg, Ill. Vertical Trail specializes in cloud offerings from Snowflake, Dataiku and Tableau, among other vendors. The company also provides pre-built, cloud-based offerings that it customizes for customers. One example is its Troodon Analytics Hub, which provides an automated data sciences environment.

Private investment firm Centerbridge Partners LLC acquired Ahead in October 2020. At the time, Ahead said the transaction would boost its cloud infrastructure position and "facilitate acquisitions."

Meanwhile, Berkshire Partners invested $50 million in Upstack, a web platform that sells cloud services through cloud sales agents. Upstack, based in New York, said the funds will expand its offerings and sales agencies.

Thus far, Upstack has acquired 10 independent agencies. "No hard cap has been set on the number of agencies the company is looking to acquire," said Upstack CEO Chris Trapp. Agencies range from sole proprietorships to large and more established firms, he added.

Additionally, in the ERP sector, Syntax, a managed cloud provider based in Montreal, acquired Linke, a Barcelona-based consultancy focused on SAP-on-AWS offerings. Linke targets the Iberian, French and Nordic markets.

Syntax, a portfolio company of private equity firm Novacap, joins Pythian Services Inc., Sapphire Systems and SNP Schneider-Neureither & Partner in acquiring SAP specialty companies this year.

Digital Guardian makes managed DLP a channel sale

Digital Guardian, a data loss prevention company based in Waltham, Mass., is tapping channel partners to sell its DLP-as-a-service offering in North America.

The company's Managed DLP Service is geared to midmarket customers, focusing primarily on companies with 1,000 to 2,000 employees, said Troy Gabel, vice president of sales and channel for North America at Digital Guardian. The service provides data discovery and classification, as well as monitoring capabilities for web browsers, email, copy and paste, printing, USB and removable media, and archiving.

Partners can wrap consulting services around the Managed DLP Service, Gabel said. Additionally, the DLP service fits into managed security service provider offerings such as security operations centers and security information and event management services.

Digital Guardian also offers partners and customers a cloud-hosted proof of concept (POC). The cloud-hosted POC can compress the sales cycle compared with on-premises POCs, which can take weeks to set up, Gabel noted.

Digital Guardian has typically generated about 60% of its new business through channel sales, but the partner contribution grew to slightly more than 70% in 2020, Gabel said. The midmarket offering, which is sold only through partners, will increase that channel percentage, he added.

Lenovo AI bundles to get channel push

Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group said channel partners can deliver integrated offerings Lenovo created with ISVs.

The company this week launched five AI bundles:

  • A system to track COVID-19 safety protocols created with Addfor;
  • A retail visual AI offering created with Everseen;
  • A machine learning operations offering created with;
  • An edge analytics offering created with SAS; and
  • A data management offering created with NetApp.

Lenovo partners can determine which AI uses make sense for customers, said Scott Tease, executive director of high performance computing and AI at Lenovo. Most enterprise uses for AI are still emerging, he noted.

Lenovo's AI bundles also offload the task of vetting technology to the company's AI innovation centers. Robert Daigle, worldwide AI business leader at Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group, said many channel partners lack the data science personnel to validate and test AI offerings or manage relationships with numerous ISVs.

Channel program launches and updates

  • Code42, an insider risk management company based in Minneapolis, launched a channel partner program. The company's Accelerate program provides professional services training and education.
  • SoftIron Ltd., a software-defined storage vendor based in London, unveiled its SoftIron + Co program. Program participants can offer open source technology such as Ceph, a platform for software-defined storage.
  • BeyondTrust, a privileged access management vendor based in Atlanta, expanded its partner program's tier structure to Authorized, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The program provides incremental benefits as partners move up the tiers, according to the company. BeyondTrust also appointed Jeff Mattan as vice president of global partner programs. Mattan was previously senior director of worldwide partner programs, operations, marketing and enablement at KeepTruckin, an IoT provider.
  • Acronis, a Swiss data protection and cybersecurity company, revamped its partner portal. The portal includes a central dashboard, built-in marketing automation tools, ready-made and DIY marketing content, and a support section for tracking tickets.
  • Nerdio, a Chicago-based provider of Microsoft Azure products for MSPs, will give 30% off the cost of Nerdio Manager for MSP for service providers that work with nonprofit organizations. The offer, which applies to net-new nonprofit deployments, is available worldwide.

Partner roster updates

  • LogicMonitor, an infrastructure monitoring platform vendor based in Santa Barbara, Calif., added 11 companies to its partner network. Eight of those partners are in Europe: Amasol in Germany; CDW in the U.K.; Corporate Finance International in Switzerland; Exccon AG in Germany; Kaemi in Germany; Netsecurity AS in Norway; Proact in Europe and the U.S.; and SoftwareOne in the Netherlands. Xylex Technologies joined LogicMonitor's partner network in the U.S., with Arvensys Technologies and Total eBiz Solutions signing on from Australia and Singapore, respectively.
  • Inkscreen, a secure content capture vendor based in Austin, Texas, inked a strategic reseller pact with Vertosoft, which supplies technology and services to government customers.
  • LogRhythm, a SEIM vendor based in Boulder, Colo., partnered with AlJammaz Technologies, a value-added technology distributor in Saudi Arabia.

Other news

  • IBM's yet-to-be-launched managed infrastructure services company will be named Kyndryl. Kyndryl is expected to emerge as an independent company by the end of 2021. IBM revealed plans for the spinoff in October 2020. The new company will be based in New York.
  • Accenture will support the finance operations of a global initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The COVAX Facility has the backing of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; and the World Health Organization.
  • Enterprises should examine cloud vendors' consolidated toolsets, according to Thoughtworks, a software consultancy based in Chicago. The company's latest Technology Radar report stated that tool bundles offer convenience for developers but are "unlikely to represent the best choice across the board." In addition, a business that locks itself into one toolset may lack the flexibility to swap workloads between cloud platforms, according to Thoughtworks.
  • A Deloitte report published this week advises business leaders to stay on top of quantum technology. The consulting firm's guide to quantum technology states that a "wait-and-see attitude could cause organizations to miss critical opportunities" for testing and experimentation. The report recommends organizations learn about the technology's impact on particular industries and assemble teams to develop a quantum strategy.
  • Kaseya, an IT and security management vendor for MSPs, updated its IT Complete platform. Kaseya's VSA remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool now includes virtual machine network discovery, which automate the discovery of VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V hosts and virtual machines. In backup and disaster recovery, Kaseya offers Unitrends' Gen 9 Max appliances through a subscription-based model. In security, Graphus, which Kaseya acquired in 2020, now detects organizations' internal email attacks.

Executive appointments

  • SADA, a business and technology consultancy based in Los Angeles, added three members to its board of directors: Sebastian Goodwin, CISO at Nutanix; Matt Bates, CFO at Zenoss and a former Rackspace executive; and David Meredith, CEO and board director at Everbridge. SADA CEO Tony Safoian said the advisers provide experience at much larger companies, as SADA aims to create systems and processes to accommodate growth. In addition, SADA will create three board committees along the lines of larger public companies. Bates will chair the audit committee, Meredith will chair the compensation committee and board member Wendy Pfeiffer, CIO at Nutanix, will chair the nominating/governance committee, Safoian said.
  • Datto Holding Corp., a software and security vendor for MSPs, appointed Joshua Hoffman as senior vice president of sales. He was previously a global vice president at Poly Inc.
  • Armis, a device security vendor based in Palo Alto, Calif., named Tim Mackie as worldwide vice president of channel. Mackie has also held channel and distribution roles at Recorded Future, SentinelOne and Cylance.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

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