Lync Up: Polycom To Buy Microsoft Gold Partner Sentri


Polycom will acquire Sentri, a well-known Microsoft Gold partner, to expand what it can offer for partner-centric services specific to joint Polycom-Microsoft Lync deployments.

Exact financial terms weren't provided, but Polycom said in a statement the deal is valued at less than $10 million and will close in the first quarter of 2013.

Polycom's pivot toward software-centric solutions -- and its deep strategic relationship with Microsoft -- made Sentri's significant Lync expertise attractive, according to Polycom.

[Related: Polycom CEO: Eight Out Of 10 Times, We Can Win Against Cisco]

More than 40 of Polycom's video and voice products interoperate with Lync, and Polycom now expects to offer Sentri's consulting, design, deployment and maintenance services to assist its channel partners, said Sudhakar Ramakrishna, Polycom president, products and services.

"Delivering a robust services portfolio provides Polycom and our partners with the opportunity to not only grow revenues, but also to increase the strategic value we bring to customers by serving as trusted advisers to help them solve their communications objective as their businesses grow," Ramakrishna said in a statement.

Sentri is certified under Microsoft Premier Support for Lync Partners and, among other accolades, copped Microsoft's East Region Partner of the Year award for 2012. Polycom plans to set up what it's calling a Services Center of Excellence, through which it will offer training and certification on Sentri's services to its channel community starting later this year.

Polycom does not plan to use Sentri's services to compete against other partner services, according to a spokesperson.

Following the acquisition, Sentri's management team, including CEO Alex Beletsky, will transition to Polycom, with some executives reporting to Navin Mehta, senior vice president, Polycom Global Services, and some to its North America sales leadership team. Polycom will maintain Sentri's Westborough, Mass.-based headquarters, according to a spokesperson.

Sentri itself has grown through acquisition. In April 2012 it bought Clearway Corporation, a Microsoft cloud partner, to expand its Lync, Exchange, System Center and SharePoint practices and how those platforms are delivered through Microsoft cloud services such as Office 365, Intune and Azure. A month earlier, it bought the SharePoint practice of Knowledge Management Associates.

It's a crucial time for Polycom, which posted uneven earnings throughout 2012 but in the fall made one of its most important-ever product launches: a slew of cloud services as part of a massive portfolio expansion. The company also recently made key additions to its executive team, including new Americas and APAC chiefs.

CEO Andy Miller told CRN in an October interview that both software and services would define how Polycom's roughly 7,000 partners profit going forward.

"We brought solutions that allowed our partners to not only extend their product portfolios but have a clear differentiation vs. Cisco, LifeSize and others," Miller said at the time. "We announced a lot at once, but we're now working hard with the channel on education and training. How do you sell next-generation, virtualized solutions? There's a lot there to absorb. But they're going to make good money and higher margins with what we're doing here."

Research firm Gartner recently pegged the global market for video collaboration advanced services at $1.6 billion for 2013 and headed for $1.94 billion by 2016.

PUBLISHED JAN. 30, 2013