A brief history of HANDD
In 2006 two businessmen and friends for 15 years, Ian Davin and Anthony Hodges had one of their regular chats over a drink or two. Both had worked in senior roles in the corporate world of IT for many years across roles in sales, marketing and technical, and so had a great grasp of the business of IT and how IT supports a business. What was it that was different about this particular conversation that spurred both of them to set up HANDD Business Solutions with an unwavering belief that they could provide something to the market that was missing?
At the time IT solutions, especially in security, risk and compliance, operated in silos and were typically technology and brand focused. Both founders believed that successful IT projects had a number of components; world class and proven technology which supported business processes and policies that in turn really met business needs, but also never forgetting who that technology serves. People are what make a difference in a business, so we knew that they must always be at the forefront of our thoughts, be they the end user in a line of business, someone in the IT function, a customer, citizen, suppliers, the list goes on.
The final component of this was the information in the business, the interpretation of data provides information which informs decisions. The data and not the technology was the area to focus on. Solve the needs around data, policies, process and people, wrap around this great service to derisk projects and operations and engage with customers openly, honestly and frankly and we felt we could take something to market that was missing.
We both believed this fervently. Advice to anyone who wants to set up a business; go niche or go big. We decided to go niche. Our whole business philosophy is data centric so now all we had to do was find our niche.
The rest of 2006 was spent talking to potential customers and contacts. We found out a lot, some surprised us, some we knew already, we talked about management of data and business intelligence, we heard stories of proprietary systems locking customers in financially and creating barriers to growth.
One conversation with a large global media company resonated with us. The company had a proprietary system which moved around their business files, scheduled them, manipulated and changed the data and then shared these files with their business community. The files were sometimes very large broadcast files but often were standard excel, word, powerpoint, PDFs. Much of the data was time sensitive and security sensitive but many were routine data movements which occurred day to day and formed the lifeblood of the company being able to operate and were thus business critical.
With our joint backgrounds in technology, business process and security we had found the market we were going to address.
The media company became our first of many customers.
Discussions with analysts, customers and valued opinions from some of our excellent staff members produced a shortlist of software vendors
By early 2007 one of the most important decisions to make was choosing the right technology partners to work with. HANDD is an independent integrator with full in house services, support and competency centres across everything to do with File Transfer, Secure File Transfer, Managed File transfer and Automated File Transfer. But we don’t make the software ourselves, instead it was a conscious decision to work with the best file transfer, B2Bi and EDI vendors in the world and match their software and our service mix and advise to the customers needs.
Our first vendor to work with was Ipswitch File Transfer with their range of MOVEit DMZ and Central Servers. Well, to be exact it was Standard Networks who were then acquired by Ipswitch. This was followed over the next 3 years by GlobalSCAPE, Linoma Software, Tectia SSH and Attachmate.
Note that these are the file transfer vendors we decided to work with, we met a lot more and keep in touch in order to monitor the market continuously.
Business growth continued to come thick and fast and 2008 saw us add our 100th customer, a number which has grown significantly to nearly 500 customers in 2012.
Gartner Managed File Transfer Magic Quadrant
2009 saw Gartner release their Managed File Transfer Magic Quadrant, which helped formalise the File Transfer market globally and gave birth to the phrase ‘Managed File Transfer’ or MFT for short. MFT encapsulates everything about file transfer and data exchanges between humans, systems, business’ and application.
2009 was also the last year that Gartner published their quadrant on Managed File Transfer. Since then HANDD have published a monthly Managed File Transfer Comparison Matrix – this has been downloaded 1000′s of times by customers as a useful resource and by file transfer vendors from around the world interested in seeing what the competition are doing.
With the advent of ad hoc file transfer we started publishing our the Ad Hoc File Transfer comparison as an industry resource.
Success in the UK, coupled with our presence as speakers at key events and attendance at trade shows such as Cebit and Infosecurity Europe meant that HANDD was becoming known outside of the UK for excellence in enterprise file transfer projects and we started to be asked to engage in projects in Germany, Hungary, Dubai, Qatar, Singapore and Malaysia.
2009/10 gave rise to HANDD distributing vendors products and helping resellers to service their own customer needs. System Integrators such as SCC, Computacenter, CSC, Insight, HP and T-Systems starting engaging us in projects with their customers as experts in File Exchange.
Our expertise in project migrations and deep understanding of our vendors technology won us many contracts in Finance so in 2011 HANDD opened an office in Bishopsgate, the centre of London’s Financial District and our first international office in Singapore to service our customers in the far east.
2011 also saw HANDD established as a Global Competency centre for Tectia SSH, the inventors of the SSH protocol. This is an ideal partnership which marries a great innovator of technology with HANDD, a first class services and integration company.
Having completed a large number of file transfer projects there are not many problems that we have not come across. From migrations to complex data flows, our skilled team of experts have integrated, written code, generated the most complex workflows imaginable and migrated 1000′s of scripts from one vendor to another.
While a lot of what we conjure up is bespoke to customer projects, there are times when we write applications for customers that many other companies would find useful.
After QA these applications can be downloaded for a 30 day trial, over time we will develop this portal to provide applications written by ourselves and 3rd parties which enhance existing file transfer vendor solutions.
Launching Our Data Security Portfolio
One of the benefits of engaging with so many customers is the consistent feedback and experience we can share with the rest of the market. Having completed a successful project with a large retail and investment bank which involved securing and managing their data on the move, we were asked for our opinion on protecting their data in use, particularly in relation to Data Leakage Prevention (DLP).
As discussion progressed it became clear that they had 2 issues (well, 2 burning issues at least) regarding their unstructured data. Firstly, they had no method for defining what data was sensitive and worthy of protection and what was not, so they were spending the same amount of resource protecting the Mergers and Acquisition document as they were protecting the lunch menu. Secondly they had no idea what data they had, where it all was and who had access to it.
This was not the first time we had come across such issues, so we once again researched the market and engaged partners to work with on this project. We completed the project and realised that this was not an isolated issue, rather a common problem, hence after significant due diligence HANDD came to market with a broader range of data security solutions addressing data classification, DLP, data management and website security.