April 5, 2012

2 Min Read
Sentri Buys Clearway for Microsoft Office 365 Cloud Expertise

By samdizzy


Sentri Inc., a well-known Microsoft IT services firm, has acquired Clearway Corp., which focuses on Microsoft cloud solutions. Is this the start of channel partners buying up one another for Microsoft Office 365, Windows Azure and Google Apps expertise? Perhaps I’m jumping the gun but let’s take a look at this deal and potential trends ahead.

Sentri already has on-premises Microsoft Lync, Exchange, System Center, and SharePoint practices. Clearway has Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune and Azure expertise. In fact, Clearway as Microsoft’s first certified cloud partner.

Sentri and Clearway have been collaborating on customer projects over the past year, so a merger seemed to be the next logical step, the two companies say. Together, Clearway and Sentri have won more than 15 Microsoft partner excellence awards in the past 10 years, the companies added. Financial terms of the business combination were not disclosed.

Alex Beletsky remains Sentri’s Founding Partner. Gene Rodgers shifts from Clearway CEO to Sentri Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). Colm Whelan, a leader in both the SharePoint and Office 365 communities, becomes Director of Cloud Services.

Key Considerations

I’ve reached out to Sentri and Clearway for additional comment. Among my questions:

  • What percentage of revenues will involve cloud computing going forward?

  • Does Sentri plan to host any apps on its own, or will Sentri place all cloud customers on Microsoft’s own platforms (Office 365, Windows Azure, etc.)

  • What percentage of Sentri revenues will be recurring, and what percentage will be cloud related?

  • How will Sentri potentially adjust its sales compensation plans to address the mixed on-premises and cloud businesses?

  • How many employees will the two companies have?

  • And plenty more…

More M&A Coming? (Yes)

Microsoft claims to have more than 42,000 channel partners focused on cloud computing. I don’t know how many of them have thriving Office 365 and Windows Azure business practices. But it’s a safe bet M&A activity will accelerate in the months ahead.

Over on MSPmentor, our sister site, we track several MSP mergers and acquisitions per month. Most of those deals involve MSPs buying peers that have some form of cloud expertise. But I haven’t heard much banter yet about Office 365 consulting firms as M&A targets.

But it’s starting. In the Office 365 market. And in the Google Apps market. Last month Cloud Sherpas (a major Google Apps Authorized Reseller) merged with GlobalOne (a well-known Salesforce.com consulting firm).

The interesting part of this: I’m not hearing about M&A to drive recurring cloud revenues. Instead, it sounds like many of the deals involve cloud consulting revenues… At least so far.

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