TelstraClear has made its first sale into government of its new Secure Business Email in-the-cloud product, which removes the need for clients to have dedicated SEEMail infrastructure. The product is based on locally developed compliant software from Scientific Software and Systems.
Adrian van Hest, head of TelstraClear’s specialist security unit, DMZGlobal, says several of TelstraClear’s government clients that use managed services for email had asked for SEEMail to be done in the cloud.
SEEMail is the government standard for the encryption of emails.
“We looked around the market and Scientific Software’s product was the market leader in our opinion,” he says. “The other options were very much black-box solutions, which didn’t fit very well.”
The project began in mid-2008, and went into final testing in February. Van Hest says he can’t name the first government customer without approval. “We’re close to signing a second one.”
Scientific Software was founded in 1985 to do software development for scientists and engineers but, according to managing director Bill Tonkin, found the market too small and too fickle.
Today, it has two divisions, one focused on IT security — reselling and doing development work — and the other selling production stockbroking systems.
It employs 29 people, in Wellington, Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane.
Tonkin says he began talking to government about digital signatures and encryption before SEEMail. “Then, in 2000 the government issued a request for proposal for secure messaging systems.
“We put together a system, got it accredited, and signed Parliamentary Services as an early adopter. It was based on packaged software for which we had an agency, but it soon became clear the software wasn’t flexible enough, so we built our own S/MIME compatible email gateway. (S/MIME is a body of internet standards.)
The new product, named SecureIT, was put through the State Services Commission accreditation process and Scientific Systems became an accredited vendor.
Tonkin says the company went to its entire customer base and replaced the earlier software with SecureIT. “There are between 20,000 and 50,000 seats where the people, whether they know it or not, are using SecureIT.”
Despite its success in New Zealand, the market is too small. Tonkin says the company earns more revenue from its exports, to Denmark, England, Germany and Greece.
“We always perceived that the New Zealand market would be far too small to justify development and maintenance of the product, so we always had it in mind to piggy-back on other product relationships.
‘We’re now trying to commoditise the S/MIME space. It’s always been seen as an elitist field, so we’re trying to simplify it and build it in a way that will popularise digital signatures and security.”
From TelstraClear’s point of view, the relationship has another advantage.
“It’s a real pleasure working with a local provider for a change,” says van Hest.