GlassHouse Adds Security Consulting with Acquisition of Former Motorola Team

1/26/09Follow @wroush

GlassHouse Technologies, the Framingham, MA, firm whose IT consulting services are used by almost half of the Fortune 100 companies, said today that it has acquired Chicago-based CSSG, a fledgling security consulting firm whose key members are recent emigrants from Schaumberg, IL-based Motorola. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

GlassHouse is mainly known for helping clients make more efficient use of their existing IT investments through data center consolidation and virtualization. It also specializes in managing complex tasks such as disaster recovery and helping companies migrate their operations to new data centers, and can even send full-time, on-site managers to take over a company’s low-level IT operations. Demand for its services has grown so swiftly that the company filed for a $100 million initial public offering in late 2007. (The application hasn’t been withdrawn, but is on indefinite hold.) Until now, however, GlassHouse’s services have not included helping clients manage their security infrastructure.

“We are orienting the company around our ability to help you plan, execute, and manage significant elements inside the data center, and one of the areas where we were starting to see a lot of overlap was security,” Richard Scannell, GlassHouse’s co-founder and senior vice president of corporate strategy and marketing, told me last week. “People are very enamored with virtualization, but they are asking ‘How do I manage it, and do cost accounting, and back it up, and oh, by the way, how do I secure it?”

Just as GlassHouse was considering how to address this appetite, CSSG was hanging out its shingle in Chicago. The 12-person firm is made up mainly of former Motorola engineers who helped to secure the mobile and networking services that the mobile-technology giant sells to its enterprise, transportation, and state and local government customers. The group had been looking to offer its services to a broader set of customers, but that business that wasn’t big enough to catch Motorola’s interest, according to Robbie Higgins, a CSSG founder who is now GlassHouse’s vice president of security services.

“We had taken it as far as it would go inside Motorola, and we were looking at moving and setting up our own business to build out services based on the expertise we had,” says Higgins. “But literally, just as we were getting the company up and running, there were some opportunities to work with GlassHouse partners, and that’s really where it accelerated and led to some discussions [with GlassHouse].”

Bringing on an existing security team from Motorola not only fits with GlassHouse’s plan to add security consulting to its IT management services, but gives the company a new expertise in mobile computing, Scannell says. “A lot of our customers are trying to innovate their business at the edge, meaning they want to put wireless devices into the hands of their practitioners, but they’re struggling with whether that breaks their security and their regulatory compliance,” he says. Hospitals, for example, want to let doctors and nurses access electronic medical records from handheld devices, but only if they can do so without violating federal privacy regulations and creating new backup and disaster-recovery challenges. The former Motorola engineers will be able to help clients solve those problems, Scannell says.

Higgins says his group will also be able to help GlassHouse clients implement server virtualization strategies without creating new security headaches, by applying network security concepts such as firewalls and security zones.

But security managers at GlassHouse client companies shouldn’t worry that they’re being marked for redundancy, says Scannell. “We’re not going out there and saying ‘Fire your security staff,” he says. “We’re helping clients streamline their product sets, reduce capital spending, and allow staff to be redeployed. A person who may spend all his time looking at security logs can now step up into an architectural role while we take over the block-and-tackle.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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