HelpSystems Acquires Data Security, File Transfer Companies
January 13, 2021 Alex Woodie
HelpSystems started 2021 just like it ended 2020: by acquiring a software company.
Two days before Christmas, HelpSystems acquired Vera, a developer of digital rights management software that is based in Palo Alto, California. Then on January 4, it struck again, acquiring FileCatalyst, an Ottawa, Ontario provider of software for accelerating file transfers.
Both acquisitions fit neatly into HelpSystems’ existing strategy for helping its customers securely and efficiently move and manage data, as well as with other recent acquisitions that the company has made, says Jim Cassens, HelpSystems president.
The FileCatalyst software is used to accelerate the transfer of very large files (or numerous smaller files) over the public Internet. The software utilizes the UDP protocol, as well as other techniques, to make the most out of available bandwidth. The software also fits in with HelpSystems robotic process automation (RPA) tools, which are used primarily for automating IT and file-related activities within a company’s firewall.
The plans call for HelpSystems to immediately integrate FileCatalyst with GoAnywhere and GlobalScape, its two managed file transfer (MFT) offerings. GoAnywhere, which HelpSystems obtained with its 2016 acquisition of Linoma Software, can run on IBM i and other platforms, while GlobalScape targets non-IBM i platforms. The FileCatalyst software will also be offered on a standalone basis, as needed. All three of these products are written in Java, which will simplify the integrations, Cassens says.
“When the customers says, hey look, I need to get it from here to there quickly, or as fast as you possibly can – great,” Cassens says. “It’s really helpful when you’re exchanging data between remote locations. If you’re exchanging from the U.S. to Argentina, where you might traverse across some pretty sketchy networks from a bandwidth perspective, this will help at least make sure you’re utilizing all the bandwidth possible, or that’s available to you.”
The FileCatalyst software has been used extensively in the media and live sports businesses, which requires very large files to be sent across networks of questionable robustness. The 20-year-old company brings more than 1,000 customers in media and entertainment, energy and mining, gaming, printing, military, and the government into the HelpSystems sphere.
Vera, meanwhile, provides a cloud-based digital rights management (DRM) software product that gives a user the ability to control who can view, edit, or print a document, even from afar. This will enable to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive data, Cassens says.
For example, say that an executive at HelpSystems needed to share sensitive financial information with one of its investors, Cassens says “I don’t want anybody else to see that,” he says. “They may only need that for a period of time. They only need to look at it as part of a deal we’re doing or part of a refinance, or whatever. I can create that document and put a water mark on it that says Alex can only have view access to this. When you open that file up, it opens in your native application [such as Excel] but you can’t do anything. You can’t save it. You can’t print it. You can’t file it. All you can do is view it.”
At any time, the owner of that document can restrict access to the file. If a business partner tried to access a protected document after the allotted time period has expired, they would be greeted with a pop-up that basically says “You no longer have access to this document,” Cassens says. “That’s pretty powerful.”
Taken together, the Vera and FileCatalyst acquisitions will bolster HelpSystems existing solutions around digital collaboration and data security, Cassens says.
“When you look at HelpSystems and how we’re building that data security suite of solutions, tie into it with data classification, digital rights management, manage file transfer, and now you have these high-speed capabilities? It all fits nicely together,” he says.
The current acquisitions will bolster two other acquisitions that were completed in August — Titus and Boldon James. Both Titus and Boldon James bring data classification capabilities, which is a big deal for HelpSystems.
“Data classification is the big gorilla in data security because in order for you to secure data, you have to know what it is, and that’s the classification piece,” Cassens says, “So once I classify a piece of data, saying it’s financial information [for example], I can now tell all the other applications what to do from a security perspective. How do we encrypt it? How do we send it? That can all be managed then simply by the classification piece. So everything else will be built around data classification and the MFT solution for data security.”
Eventually, HelpSystems will offer a unified solution that goes a long way towards automating these related data management and security issues, including data categorization, DRM, MFT, and accelerated file transfers, Cassens says. This is what customers are asking for, he says.
“You’re going to want to categorize data before you send it. You want to get it here as quickly as possible. You want to protect that data and be able to revoke the access, which is the digital rights management piece – and now you can do it all within the HelpSystems suite of product,” he says. “You don’t have to go and build something on your own with eight different vendors. You have one vendor you can go to. One vendor for support, one vendor for the busines. It’s going to make it really easy for customers to be able to utilize the solution.”
Eventually, HelpSystems will take the best offerings from the Titus and Boldon James data classification offerings and combine them into a single solution. “But that’s going to take years,” he says.