Father, Son, & Co: Kisco Systems Drills Down On Security
April 4, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Rich Loeber was a divisional IT manager for over 16 years before he founded Kisco Information Systems in June 1984, four years before the AS/400 was launched. The System/36 had just launched the year before, and the System/38 had been around and in production for a handful of years at that time. Loeber founded Kisco – presumable named after Mount Kisco, a town in the Hudson Valley in New York State – to offer data processing services to IT shops in the New York metropolitan area.
Two years later, Kisco became an independent software vendor in the IBM midrange, and over the many years it has had over 6,000 software installations around the globe. The company is well regarded, and is notable in that it is one of the three remaining independent security vendors in the IBM i space now that Fresche Solutions has just bought Trinity Guard. The two others are Raz-Lee and Townsend Security.
Last July, the company changed course a bit but didn’t make a lot of noise about it. Justin Loeber, the son in this story, bought the company from his father, changed the name to Kisco Systems, and decided with prescience to focus down solely on security and compliance in the IBM i market and to let the many other products that Kisco sold dwindle. The company is now based in Ridgefield a little northeast of Mount Kisco and just over the Connecticut state line – and importantly, or perhaps not, still within the sphere of influence of PepsiCo and Big Blue, which are nearby in Westchester County. The elder Loeber is still working at the company on development of products, and the younger Loeber is leveraging his experiences as a services consulting, a marketing executive, and a chief information officer to try to push Kisco Systems to new heights.
“We are having three releases in the first quarter,” Loeber, the new head of business development for Kisco and the one running the company, tells The Four Hundred. “It is all going to coalesce around the POWERUp conference with the relaunch of the brand. The tools we have and the software foundation that we are starting with is the same, but the focus is on security and compliance. The new release of SafeNet/i that we are putting out is worthy of being called version 12, but we are calling it 11.5 because our customers beg us not to put out a new version because that is a different upgrade path and qualification requirement compared to just putting on some PTFs and updating the software. But the important thing is that we have done a lot of work, and SafeNet/i 11.5 is the fastest release we have ever put into the field, and it is the direct result of a very big customer reporting to us an issue and we were able to fix the problem and boost performance.”
As a former IT manager, Loeber the younger knows what a pain in the neck new versions of software can be. He was an integrator working at IBM Global Services from 1994 through 1997, and then having caught the Lotus Notes/Domino collaboration bug in the Dot-Com Boom years, Loeber went out and started a company called Boxlab that created collaboration tools with General Electric as a marquee customer. GE outsourced its IT operations and there went that idea. Next, Loeber started a company called CarverTech, which created software and provided services to the publishing industry. In 2012, the young Loeber moved to Skander Technologies down in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he did consulting in the manufacturing, publishing, and financing sectors, and significantly, started a practice within Skander to help companies implement the NetSuite ERP applications now controlled by Oracle. In 2016, Loeber became CIO for California Closets, and implemented analytics systems to drive lead generation and sales, and two and a half years later took a gig as CIO at COG, a commercial furniture dealer in Silicon Valley. When COVID hit, he started his own consulting company, which he still runs to this day, and a little more than a year later, he bought his father’s company.
After the buyout and the reorganization, here is what the Kisco Systems lineup looks like:
The idea behind the block diagram above is that every company starts with a set of security policies, and there is a tool called iSecMap that makes sure users, programmers, administrators, and anyone else adheres to those security policies.
The rest of the stack, as you see, manages exit points, provides two-factor authentication, real-time monitoring, audit every single change in the system for an audit trail, does password management, and secure, encrypted report distribution – all informed by those enterprise-wide security policies.
At the moment, Kisco Systems is sticking with perpetual licenses on the IBM i platform to distribute its software, with annual maintenance fees, but Loeber the younger is keen on working out deals with managed services providers so they can take white label security products from Kisco Systems and sell them as a service. Kisco Systems doesn’t do installations for customers, either, and this is also a service that business partners can provide to the IBM i customers who want the Kisco Systems products.