Hide in plain sight: Canadian data security software developer defines data protection
Camouflage Software Inc.
January 16, 2014— St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Creating a software product from an idea well ahead of the curve, developing the product while carving out and educating a market that didn't even realize the need, and selling it internationally has kept Newfoundland-based Camouflage Software Inc. on the cutting edge of data security innovation for more than a decade.
Much of the credit for their success goes to support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), according to Camouflage president and CEO Kevin Duggan. "We have been working with NRC-IRAP for 10 years to conduct critical research and testing as we developed our product—an essential tool for identifying and protecting classified or sensitive information for such activities as software testing, analysis and development," he explains. "Without that partnership, we would not have been able to bring it to market—and Camouflage would not be here today."
The idea emerged during a consulting project that Duggan and his partners conducted for a large client in 2002. Realizing that this was an innovation not yet available through any other vendor, they decided to develop a software solution and promote it through Plato Consulting, their information technology (IT) consulting firm. With the support of NRC-IRAP, they developed the product, spun their consulting division off to another company, and have evolved into a software leader who is challenging some of the biggest big IT players in the world. The 20-employee software company is seeing revenues in the millions from Fortune 500 clients that include a huge aerospace corporation as well as healthcare conglomerates, financial institutions and governments. Recently, Camouflage was recognized by Gartner, the world's leading IT research and advisory company, as a top supplier of data masking technology.
One of the greatest difficulties facing Camouflage at start-up was the fact that the idea was ahead of its time. Duggan notes that having NRC-IRAP believe in its potential established major credibility and validated the idea, as did landing a couple of massive multinational clients.
"NRC-IRAP's presence at our side during this crucial phase in our development also went a long way toward having other support agencies take us seriously." — Kevin Duggan, Camouflage Software, president and CEO
Foundation-building with NRC-IRAP
When Camouflage first came to NRC-IRAP, Industrial Technology Advisor Steven Noseworthy laid the groundwork for a lasting relationship that led to a cluster of joint projects. "Working with NRC-IRAP has to be a two-way street," he says. "Camouflage was very open and willing to collaborate with different people, take our advice and give us feedback as they progressed." Duggan adds that while NRC-IRAP funding was pivotal to their success, the company matched the contribution with funds from their own consulting revenues. "Steven also understood our business and software from the outset, so he has been a real asset to the team."
Over the years, Noseworthy has steered Camouflage toward invaluable resources and individuals in his extensive network. For example, he introduced them to other funders and sources of expertise and information; these included American and local universities that could help with R&D, and ongoing alerts from the NRC Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) Institute for Information Technology that kept them abreast of global data masking news and trends. "We also helped them manage their growth," he says. "This meant improving productivity and profitability, streamlining their capabilities and establishing systems for greater operational efficiency," he says.
Duggan notes that, thanks to NRC-IRAP's support, the product has been able to evolve with market demands, and will continue to change as the market grows.
Going the distance
While the market is still emergent, Duggan is confident that it has unlimited growth potential since sensitive data discovery and masking are increasingly essential to the security needs of organizations' rapidly expanding data stores. "Among the many drivers for that growth are compliance demands in healthcare, financial services and government; data discovery to find out where sensitive information lies; and business intelligence-gathering," he says. "The technology titans are in the game as well, so the playing field will only grow bigger and tougher."
In addition to ongoing product development in the Camouflage line, Duggan foresees a future where the company competes successfully on the world stage by being more streamlined and flexible than the IT giants. And he foresees maintaining the relationship with NRC-IRAP, which has been "a huge asset from an innovation perspective."
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