With Oriel buyout, BigAir just got serious about IT

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With Oriel buyout, BigAir just got serious about IT
Jason Ashton

The impending purchase of Sydney service provider Oriel Technologies marks wireless operator BigAir Group's biggest move in the IT channel.

The deal, expected to complete by 31 December, will see BigAir take over a 19-year-old company with nearly 70 staff and a broad range of top-tier vendor relationships. The price tag could be as high as $15 million, depending on Oriel's 2015 and 2016 performance. 

Sydney-based Oriel is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Cisco Premier Partner, HP Premier Business Partner, Riverbed Elite Performance Partner, as well as boasting partnerships with AWS, Citrix, VMware and Pure Storage, among others.

BigAir chief executive officer Jason Ashton said: “By acquiring an organisation of Oriel’s size and capability, we anticipate a significant boost in our cloud and managed services business, which has been identified as a key growth sector for us.”

The wireless provider has a "large number" of customers that have the potential to utilise Oriel services, Ashton told CRN.

It's a “significant purchase”, added Oriel chief executive officer Chris Fydler. “It’s certainly [BigAir’s] biggest purchase with the capability that we have... in the IT services area.”

While Oriel’s core focus is servers and storage, it was also the first Australian reseller of VMware Horizon desktop-as-a-service, as well as being an HP CloudAgile Service Provider Partner.

Among its accomplishments is the creation of an AWS gateway to allow for secure replication of backups.

BigAir will inject capital for Oriel to expand infrastructure and provide services.

“In that middle enterprise space, often it’s the system integrators taking that capital load. When we’re building services or licensing, it takes money to do,” said Fydler. “They brought to us a customer base and a balance sheet [we] didn’t otherwise have.”

Oriel will shake up BigAir's busines mix. Last financial year, nearly $31.2 million of BigAir’s revenue - roughly three-quarters - came from fixed wireless and “community broadband” operations, while another $10.9 million came from “cloud managed services”. Oriel is expected to add another $25 million of IT revenues.

BigAir also lists a number of wholesale partners on its web site, including Ethan, EspireIT, NTT Communications and Anittel. Partners had indicated they want BigAir to provide more expanded service offerings to help them assist their customers, Ashton said.

CRN also asked how BigAir would manage any potential conflict between these partners and the Oriel business. Ashton said: "BigAir has significant experience in managing both direct and indirect channels. We have well established 'chinese walls' that ensure that retail and wholesale opportunities are separated."

String of acquisitions

The Oriel takeover is just the latest in a string of purchases by BigAir.

The company added internet and data, voice and video including unified communications, plus cloud infrastructure services earlier this year when it completed the $6.5 million buyout of Anittel Communications.

It bought in unified communications and managed services capability by acquiring Intelligent IP Communications in a deal reportedly worth $10 million.

Wireless broadband acquisitions included wireless engineering company Star-Tech Communications, managed student Internet services provider AccessPlus, fixed business wireless provider Clever Communications Australia, business and student broadband provider Allegro Networks and business wireless provider Link Innovations.

BigAir's executive team includes former Dimension Data mid-market cloud chief technology officer Scott Atkinson and former Optus vice president of marketing and produts Scott Mason.

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