BlueRange buys Mainline’s Canadian IBM business

Jeff McFarlane

XTG president Jeff McFarlane

BlueRange Technology, the VAR unit of Xchange Technology Group (XTG), has announced that it has purchased the IBM business of Mainline Information Systems Canada, bolstering its business with Big Blue.

When XTG was approached by U.S.-based powerhouse IBM partner Mainline about getting out of the System x business in Canada, it jumped at the opportunity to build out its enterprise business, said Jeff McFarlane, president of XTG.

“We have some degree of enterprise expertise today, and we’re very active with System p, but Mainline’s main skills are in the enterprise storage space,” McFarlane said. “We hope to leverage that expertise into our existing accounts as well as moving upmarket into the enterprise space with more System x at the same time.”

With the purchase, BlueRange becomes the first XTG component company to take on a significant enterprise focus, and McFarlane said that in addition to taking on staff from Mainline, the company will be looking to add sales and technical expertise with enterprise experience, both through recruitment and acquisition. He said he sees adding the Mainline business as “one of the kickstarts we need” to build the BlueRange brand in the enterprise.

“Mainline is one of our next steps in respect to bringing that enterprise capability to the North American market, and we look forward to adding to it,” he said.

Mainline is one of our next steps in respect to bringing that enterprise capability in the North American market. Look forward to adding to it.

At nearly the same time, the company announced it has acquired Germany-based Livingston Electronic Services, which provides rental of technology products. It’s a subject near and dear to XTG’s heart, as the company started to build out the short-term rentals business four years ago with its purchase of Vernon Computer Source. That was bolstered in Europe with the purchase of U.K.-based Hamilton Rentals last January, giving it control of the largest rental players in the U.K. and continental Europe.

McFarlane said the rental business has been “vibrant” in Europe, powered by both product evaluations and the return to prominence of major events. Meanwhile, it’s been “relatively sleepy” at home in Canada, something that McFarlane chalks up to lack of awareness. While it’s had success, and buzz, for its iPad rental business, McFarlane says there are opportunities to work more with Canadian channel partners.

“The VAR community is being told there are limited evaluation unit opportunities, and a lot of them have to jump immediately to the choice of investing capital into something where they don’t have sales,” he said. “A rental can be something that can be valuable for solution providers.”

The company will also be looking to learn the secrets of the success Hamilton has enjoyed in short-term rentals of enterprise products in Europe, and expand its enterprise rental offerings in North America as a result.

McFarlane said the company’s overall strategy is to grow both organically and through acquisitions, buying or building businesses that replicate what it’s doing in existing regions. For example, while the company doesn’t have a VAR business like BlueRange in Europe, that’s something the company will “be looking at in the next nine to twelve months.”