Bell enters storage market with Infostream acquisition

Bell Canada Tuesday said it would offer increased capabilities to help its enterprise customers manage their IT storage needs through the acquisition of Infostream Technologies


The carrier said it had taken a 100 per cent majority stake in the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based reseller, though terms of the deal were not disclosed. Infostream, one of CDN’s Top 100 Solution Providers last year, is best known as a storage specialist that enjoys a wide range of partnerships with vendors like EMC, Veritas and Network Appliance, among others. It has revenues in the $80-$90 million range and has seen a 35 per cent year-over-year growth rate in the last few years, according to the company.

Last June, Bell reorganized itself into a consumer and enterprise business. The company wants to add value-added services it can offer to large companies using its IP network, said Isabelle Courville, president of Bell’s Enterprise Group. These include offerings in security, call centre, wireless data and now storage. She said she was attracted by Infostream’s workforce of approximately 100 high-end engineers and its strong rapport with customers.

“”We will work with them as-is,”” she said. “”We not try to integrate. They will be ‘InfoStream: A Bell company.’ We’ll keep management in place. We think they’ve got a way to go in the enterprise market that is just spectacular.””

IDC Canada analyst Alan Freedman said Bell’s acquisition may be a way to differentiate itself among large corporate customers being approached by many other network players.

“”By purchasing a company such as Infostream, it’s going to give them a lot of expertise in the marketplace where you can add tangible value,”” he said.

Infostream’s expertise is not limited to storage. The company also has worked on a number of voice-over-IP projects for organizations like Toronto-based Bloorview MacMillan’s Children’s Centre, assisting with the integration of voice, video and data.

“”We’re working with the same market in the same country, but within those customers (Infostream) has contracts that we don’t have,”” Courville said. “”There’s no overlap in the revenue stream, if you want to look at it like that.””

Freedman said the Infostream deal reflects the carrier’s search for ways to grow its revenue beyond pure connectivity services.

“”There’s a movement to make storage more of a primary IT purchase decision that’s more aligned with your business as opposed to a secondary, strictly IT-related decision,”” he said. “”We’re seeing a trend towards better management, and one of the big parts of that is storage management as capacities continue to grow.””

Although Infostream will be treated as a centre of excellence in storage for Bell, Courville said others might be added down the road.

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