HelpSystems Adds SkyView Partners To Its Security Assets
June 8, 2015 Dan Burger
The IBM midrange has undergone a transformation in the past 10 years. Technologically? Yes, but there’s also an evolving process of vendor acquisitions and an increased interest in managed services. Last week we saw another prize claimed by HelpSystems as it purchased the security vendor SkyView Partners. The move signals HelpSystems’ interest in developing security as a service for IBM i shops with little or no time to accomplish security initiatives.
The SkyView acquisition is not the first IBM i security company scooped up by HelpSystems. It acquired both PowerTech and Bytware in 2008, and then Safestone in 2012, getting access to both technology and customers. SkyView is providing both of those assets, but of greatest interest to HelpSystems is what SkyView has accomplished with its managed services business. SkyView started offering security as a service in 2012. Approximately 15 percent of its customers now have service contracts.
“Over the past several years, we have seen IT groups getting stretched thinner–being asked to do more with less. We are getting more people asking for help so that security can be taken off the list of priorities. People know they should be addressing security and we are giving them an alternative to doing it themselves,” says John Vanderwall, the former CEO of SkyView and the new vice president of business development for global security services at HelpSystems. “They have to put security on their priority list because management demands it, but they seldom address it because other priorities and time constraints were in the way.”
Chris Heim, CEO at HelpSystems, says the demand for security as a service is accelerating and his company was seeing that prior to the SkyView purchase.
“This is about outsourcing security and knowing there are experts looking at security all the time. Companies get a once-a-month analysis pointing out areas of concern. It’s like going to the dentist. It needs to be done on a regular basis to make sure everything is healthy,” Heim quips.
Security as a service will be a new offering for HelpSystems’ PowerTech brand, Heim says.
In addition to the IBM i shops that make up the customer lists at HelpSystems and SkyView Partners, there’s an opportunity to expand the security as a service business to the managed service providers that are lining up business as companies large and small look to outsource pieces of their IT workloads.
“MSPs are showing interest in attaining security expertise to help them control and monitor their environments,” notes HelpSystems’ COO Mark Ties. And Vanderwall adds his perspective that MSPs generally put perimeter security in their contracts, but their security does not include data loss prevention and putting multiple layers of defense around the data.
“This is going deeper and provides value that most MSPs are not offering yet,” he says.
There’s no doubt that concerns about security have put the brakes on some companies’ eagerness to convert to the hosted services model. Terms like security breech or data loss are potent buzz kills for service providers. HelpSystems expects to surround data with security and security experts.
In terms of security products developed by each of the companies, there is little overlap, according to Vanderwall.
“When Carol Woodbury and I decided to build products years ago, we focused on things other vendors were not dealing with. The combination of all the security products HelpSystems offers with the SkyView products provides a deep package that includes network security; security event and information management (SEIM); libraries, authorities, profiles being maintained according to a policy; and risk assessments.”
Woodbury is one of the foremost IBM i security experts and a former IBMer who served for more than 10 years as the AS/400 security architect and chief engineering manager of security technology for IBM’s Enterprise Server Group. Her title at HelpSystems is vice president of global security services.
Vanderwall commented on the evolution of security products, saying that just a few years ago it was all about compliance. PowerTech had security tools that handled data loss prevention and SkyView built tools for security and reporting policy, which made sure compliance regulations were being met. Those tools focused on enforcement of policy and risk assessments.
The HelpSystems arsenal of security products and services now covers data privacy, compliance reporting, file integrity monitoring, intrusion detection, network access control, password management, security event monitoring, user provisioning and management, and virus detection.
Regulatory compliance has played a big role in stoking the interest in security, but is not the sole factor in the minds of business managers.
“Compliance doesn’t necessarily mean security, but security means compliance,” Vanderwall says. “If security is done right, the company is in compliance. Good security makes compliance almost an afterthought.”
Heim adds to that by noting, “If a company just focuses on the compliance side, it is missing the mark. Compliance is driving security focus in some situations but security almost needs to become a lifestyle, which means putting in protections and worrying about security every day.”
The managed service and consulting offerings will continue to use the SkyView brand, Heim says, recognizing that SkyView has a “powerful positive message” and HelpSystems wants to build on that reputation. But because it is early in the SkyView integration process, the executives didn’t want to comment on whether the SkyView product brand would continue.
According to Ties, HelpSystems “will put more horsepower behind SkyView than it was capable of doing before and the research and development budget will increase as a result of this acquisition.”
No other vendor in the IBM i community can match HelpSystems’ appetite for acquisitions. In addition to the security vendors, the Minnesota company bought the system automation companies Halcyon (2015) and CCSS (2012); the document management company RJS Software (2014); the business intelligence companies ASC (2006) and ShowCase (2013); and the data warehouse specialist Coglin Mill (2014). It has also purchased companies outside the IBM i market during this time. HelpSystems is owned by the private equity firm Summit Partners.