Business

Aug. 7, 2014 9:30 am

Annapolis cybersecurity firm partners with tech giants, universities

Financial security remains key for kloudtrack, but the firm is expanding its reach by teaming up with schools and other institutions. "The trigger point is workforce development," said CEO Mike Binko.

The University of Maryland, pictured here, has a partnership with kloudtrack.

(Photo by Flickr user Michael Galkovsky, used under a Creative Commons license)

A Baltimore-area cybersecurity firm is working to help colleges build the next generation of professionals.

Annapolis-based kloudtrack made a major pivot in 2010 to focus more on partnerships with bigger businesses, a path that has led the company to partnerships with giants like Cisco Systems but also universities like George Mason and the University of Maryland.

“The top 300 research universities in the U.S. all have something like an applied IT program,” said Mike Binko, kloudtrack’s CEO since 2008. “[Cisco officials] see the universities as a great feeder system for their account teams. They really thought that was a good idea but left it up to us.”

But first, some backstory.

Kloudtrack was the brainchild of Jan Levine, who, as founder and president of Imageers, had a front-row advisory seat to Arthur Andersen’s New York office and the Enron-fueled collapse of the accounting firm in 2002. Levine is now CTO of kloudtrack.

“Who knows, but if the Arthur Andersen team in N.Y. had the team in Houston on the system, they could at least see they weren’t following acceptable business practices,” Binko said. “He built a consulting business out of that.”

Levine’s idea was to leverage the cloud to enhance security and accountability.

That business became Kaulkin Information Systems, and its flagship product became KIStrack. Both were renamed to kloudtrack in 2010.

When Binko joined the team, around the time of the credit crunch and the recession, the company needed to diversify, he said. So it looked into sectors to expand to beyond financial security. The natural next step was health records. Public sector agencies, like police departments, were third on the list.

“That was when the [Obama] administration had come out with a cloud-first stand on new IT procurement,” Binko said. “That opened a floodgate of cloud with government agencies.”

Finance remains “the lion’s share” of the company’s business, he said.

In 2011 the company made another pivot, making its business more agile via partnerships, while jettisoning its inside sales team and selling its services through partners.

“Information technology is more of an ecosystem than it ever has been,” Binko said. “You’re no longer going to get everything you need from IBM or Booz Allen Hamilton or Accenture. The big guys are realizing that, and its a big opportunity for us.”

Efficiencies are the same reason Binko is pursuing bigger partnerships with universities. George Mason, now in its second class with kloudtrack, sends students to kloudtrack for fellowships in government and education sectors. The University of Maryland sends students there for fellowships in health-care security.

“The trigger point is workforce development and career placement,” Binko said. “The deans for these capstone programs were struggling with durable sponsors.”

It’s the sort of leveraging kloudtrack has turned into par for the course. In the coming year, the company will be expanding its Cisco partnership, bringing more of their small-scale Innovation Sandbox platforms to life, with plans to onboard customers by 2015. The goal is to attract more and more lucrative government deals.

“Health and Human Services would not necessarily be the customer for the sandbox, but HHS could have 20, 50, 100 use cases,” Binko said. “We believe they’re going to be willing to come back within the next three to five use cases because we saved them so much aggravation.”

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Tyler Waldman

Tyler Waldman is lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. A Towson University graduate and former local editor for Patch.com, Tyler has also written and photographed for publications including the Baltimore Brew, Howard County Times and Towson Times. He lives in Charles Village.

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