EMC is to buy Interlink, a firm that provides professional services for Microsoft environments, a few days after agreeing to buy replication and continuous data protection vendor Kashya Networks, for $153 million.

The deals deliver on a promise from EMC chief executive, Joe Tucci, at the company's annual world conference last month, to aggressively acquire companies, especially in the area of managed services.

Interlink Group's skills in application development, integration and content management for Microsoft environments will bolster EMC's growing Microsoft practice.

"Professional services is a profit engine for most companies because IT shops just don't have the people to do anything but manage what they have - they can't handle any new projects," says Randy Kerns, an independent storage analyst. "IBM certainly has proved that."

The company started building its Microsoft services practice last year, with the acquisition of Internosis, and recently joined Microsoft's Simple SAN program, which focuses on the deployment of easy-to-use and manage storage-area networks in Windows 2003 environments.

EMC has also brought out several bundled storage packages for Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server networks. In addition, its EMC Clariion arrays have been certified as iSCSI target arrays in Windows environments.

Interlink, based in Colorado, employs 180 people and is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.