Server Reseller OHC Expands into Services, Softchoice Expands into the U.S.
January 14, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Many data center managers across the globe have heard of Norcross, Georgia-based Canvas Systems, which is a distributor of new and used servers that run i5/OS, Unix, Windows, Linux servers from IBM, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun Microsystems as well as storage, networking, IP telephony, and systems software associated with these boxes. Now, Canvas Systems has a new IT consulting and managed services sister company that has been given the name Corus Group.
The new company, which will also be located in Norcross and, like its sibling, will serve customers around the globe, is not to be confused with another Corus Group, the British metals company that is now part of the Indian metal giant, Tata Steel. Canvas Systems, Corus Group, and another company called IT Financial Solutions, which provides leasing and financing for IT products, are all owned by Optimus Holding Company, which is privately held and which generates around $150 million in annual sales. According to OHC, Canvas Systems represents the largest portion of OHC’s sales; the reseller has over $100 million in equipment in stock, which it says it can ship to over 70 countries in the world within 24 hours after it is ordered.
The establishment of the Corus Group IT consulting and managed services business came only a few days after OHC sold its Optimus Solutions division to a Canadian company called Softchoice for $38.1 million in cash and a deferred payment of $9 million payable in 2008, depending on how the Optimus Solutions unit fares in the coming year. Optimus Solutions is a reseller of IBM servers, high availability software, System i and System p migration services, and a number of other products and services that seem to be provided by the other OHC units like Canvas Systems and now Corus Group.
According to documents filed by Softchoice, Optimus Solutions generated $140 million in sales in 2007, employed 100 people, and had 1,500 customers. Softchoice is based in Toronto, Ontario, and is publicly held with its shares trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange; it had over 800 employees and 40 branch offices located in the United States and Canada before the Optimus Solution deal, and it picks up 100 employees and seven offices as part of the deal.
The new Corus Group consulting business is being funded from the Optimus Solutions sale, presumably. “We are responding to our clients’ increased needs for critical consulting and managed services, and are excited about forming a new company that enables us to focus exclusively on these services,” explained Mark Metz, chief executive officer at OHC, in a statement announcing the formation of Corus Group. He added that the unit would offer custom application development, mobile integration, business innovation, data center rationalization, process modeling and simulation services on the consulting side, and that the managed services side would provide help desk, desk-side and network data center support, managed hosting of System i machinery, disaster recovery and business continuity hosting; and staff augmentation services.
In December 2007, Softchoice shelled out $45 million to pick up Microsoft software reseller Software Plus, the fifth biggest large account reseller in North America for Microsoft, which generated around $192 million in sales in the past year.
Both the Software Plus and Optimus Solutions deals are part of Softchoice’s plan to expand in its presence in the United States.