Avnet aims to extend its education services reach with the acquisition of ExitCertified -- the first dedicated IT training firm bought by a tech distributor.

In a move that expands the capabilities of its technology education services portfolio, Avnet has acquired ExitCertified, a provider of certified IT training in North America. The deal marks the first time a global technology distributor has bought a dedicated IT training company.

The acquisition expands Avnet's courses with connected and virtual classrooms in high-growth areas — including big data, cloud, security, as well as converged and hyper-converged solutions, said Mike Hurst, senior vice president, Avnet Global Services. The deal will also improve Avnet Education Solutions' market position in North America and help expand its education services portfolio globally, he added.

The IT training company is expected to be integrated into Avnet's existing education and training business, Avnet Academy, which was formed about three years ago when IBM started to outsource its global training partner program. "This acquisition furthers our strategy in building out and growing our training capability. It aligns to our global strategy to provide end-to-end solutions for our customers," said Hurst.

The acquisition doubles the number of resources Avnet has in North America dedicated to education and training in a market that the distributor pegs as a $17-billion global industry, Hurst said. Another key reason for targeting ExitCertified is its brand reputation in the industry along with its alignment with Avnet's core values, he added.

ExitCertified, Ottawa, Canada, provides training solutions through 9,500 authorized IT training courses from more than 20 technology vendors.

The company is authorized by vendors — including Amazon Web Services, Brocade, Cloudera, ForgeRock, Oracle, Pivotal, Red Hat, SAP, Symantec and Veritas. This adds a complementary portfolio to the training delivered by Avnet Education Solutions through Avnet Academy, which includes authorized training from HP, IBM, Linux Foundation, Nutanix, Veeam and VMware in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Line card expansion was one of the big reasons for the acquisition. For instance, while SAP, Brocade, Oracle and Veritas are partners of Avnet Technology Solutions Business in the distribution space, the distributor did not have these franchises for training, explained Hurst. This gives Avnet the ability to provide partners with complete end-to-end solutions incorporating the training capability.

If Avnet does not have a distribution franchise with the training vendor, it will give the distributor the opportunity to understand the specific solution area and potentially expand the training relationship to a distribution partnership.

It also helps Avnet expand its solutions message. "That means we have to be able to provide end-to-end solutions in those high-growth areas — including big data analytics, security, cloud, automation, virtualization, converge[nce], and hyper-converge[nce]. ExitCertified had specific relationships and partnerships in this space that expands upon and are complementary to our existing relationships today," Hurst said.

The acquisition also gives Avnet access to new capabilities and tools to provide certified technical training to customers in a way they want to see it, Hurst said. ExitCertified offers education through its training centers as well as on-site, self-paced and instructor-led online training with its MVP/iMVP virtual training platform.

"We have an ever increasing need to reach an audience that is remote and cannot be pulled off of jobs so we have to have a way of delivering training to them that is virtual, on-demand and also collaborative," Hurst said.

What ExitCertified does differently from other companies that offer similar solutions is to provide instructor-led online or virtual training, said Maria Manning-Chapman, vice president of research and education services at Technology Services Industry Association. 

More and more learning is being done remotely, and that is true in business and true in academia, explained Manning-Chapman. Historically, companies that have done remote training have leveraged two types of technology — Web conferencing and a virtual lab environment, she explained.

"When you're doing any kind of training, you want to have that hands-on opportunity to use the software or hardware as part of the training. I can be sitting in Timbuktu and through virtual technology I can access a software program or access hardware and do my lab exercises as part of the course remotely. Those are the two things that most everybody does," she said.

The third piece ExitCertified brings is the capability for the remote learner to see the instructor, and for the instructor to see the remote student, said Manning-Chapman. "That kind of human contact is an essential part of learning so it brings that human element into it instead of a Web conference way of learning."

"For Avnet, they are getting the existing business and relationships established by ExitCertified with many IT providers, and the other thing is this technology. ExitCertified didn't invent this technology but is leveraging video cam technology in a classroom environment so there is more of that virtual face-to-face learning," she added.

ExitCertified, with revenue of about $24 million, is expected to be integrated into the Education Solutions group within Avnet Technology Solutions' Global Services business.

Originally published by Channel Insider.