company_name = FSA Corporation
company_type = Private
foundation = Calgary (
August 1 1989)
location_city = Calgary, Alberta
location_country = Canada
Dan Freedman, Co-founder, CEOand Director Maurice Sharp, Co-founder Paul Scripko, VP Sales
Gary Neill, Management consultant Dean Huxley, CTO
Benjamin Freedman, VP Marketing
Theo de Raadt, Software Developer
Earle Lowe, Software Developer
Nancy Lang, Manager of Customer Relations Kevin Chmilar, Software Developer
Computer software Computer Security Research and development System administration
| products =
Load Balancer PowerBroker PowerLogin PowerTelnet PowerFTP CipherLink
num_employees = 8 (at time of acquisition by McAfee in 1996)
FSA Corporation (formerly Freedman, Sharp, and Associates) developed
UNIXand Windows system level software for securityand distributed system administrationin the 1990s. The company is notable for having provided the underlying technology basis for software offerings by IBM, Symantec, and McAfee, and thus provides part of the historical backdrop of some of those companies' most widely used offerings. FSA's best successes were with its Load Balancerdistributed workload management solution, its PowerBrokersecure system administration solution for controlling and auditing the power of rooton UNIXnetworks, and its CipherLink network encryptionsolution. The FSA team went on to broaden McAfee's offerings from pure anti-virus to a broad-based security suite following FSA's acquisition by that company in 1996. The company is also notable for having served as the breeding ground for Theo de Raadt's ideas concerning open source, which led to the OpenBSDoperating system. Theo was FSA's first non-founding employee.
Foundation of the company
The company was conceived in a 1989 meeting between
Dan Freedmanand Maurice Sharp, both of whom had been asked by their Apollo Computersales representative ( Gary Erickson) to form a company that could serve and consult to Calgary-area oil companies with UNIXcomputer networks.
From 1989 through the end of 1991, Freedman and Sharp operated FSA as a consulting company, dealing at the driver and administration level with the "large" computer networks of the day ("large" in 1990 meant anything more than about 10 computers on a
Departure of Maurice Sharp
In early 1992,
Maurice Sharpchose to leave the company, taking a full-time intern position at Apple Computer. Dan Freedmanrenamed the company from "Freedman, Sharp, and Associates" to "FSA Corporation", and changed its focus from system-administrative consulting to distributed workload management.
ecurity Course Phase
Shortly after the departure of
Maurice Sharp, Freedman began to assemble materials for a 3-day UNIXsecurity course. The course comprised over 500 pages of materials along with a tape of open source tools for managing the security of a UNIXnetwork. Freedman marketed and taught the course 10 times in 1992 in various North American cities. He cites the course as being an important way of learning the concerns of system administrators, providing the feedback he needed to decide what products and services FSA would offer next.
While the security course phase of FSA's history did not produce any notable products, it is interesting to note that the course served as an important mechanism by which the company could quickly engage with potential customers, learning their needs and deriving a plan for product development on the basis of what was learned.
Freedman's graduate work at the
University of Calgaryhad involved the development of a process migrationsubsystem for networks of Sun Microsystemscomputers. From 1992 - 1994, the company commercialized that work, developing the company's Load Balancerproduct, which was a versatile system for distributing batch jobs across the increasingly larger networks of computers emerging at that time. Freedman hired Theo de Raadtas FSA's first employee. De Raadt's programming and architecture competence have since been proven in his OpenBSDoperating system project, but at the time FSA Corporation was his first job since graduating from the University of Calgary. In January, 1994, the Load Balancerproduct line was sold to Unison Tymlabs, which needed a UNIX-based product line ahead of its IPO. Unison has since been absorbed via acquisition by IBM, and the Load Balancerproduct line is now sold by IBM.
The sale of
Load Balancerleft the company with staff and cash, but no product. Freedman had developed and marketed a 3-day UNIX security course in 1992, and had developed significant contacts within the banking, defense, and chip-making communities. These customers all had similar problems in managing large UNIX networks, specifically concerning the control and audit of the actions of the systems' administrators. The problem was that the "root" account used by systems administrators when reconfiguring parts of the system, was able to edit any of the audit trails created by the system. Freedman designed a new product, PowerBroker, that was similar in concept to today's sudoproducts, but which allowed centralized control and auditing of an entire network even down to the keystroke level, with the logs stored on a dedicated remote computer to which the system administrators typically did not have access. By vetting all access and logging through this remote machine, a secure log could be maintained. The system was ported to over 22 versions of UNIXto accommodate the newer, larger networks with hundreds or thousands of machines. Dean Huxleywas responsible for most of the system-level programming on PowerBroker, with Kevin Chmilarand Earle Lowealso contributing.
PowerBrokerproduct line was sold non-exclusively to Raxcoand Symark Software.
* Raxco launched
Axent Technologies, as "a division exclusively committed to providing cross-platform, client/server security solutions" [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0SMG/is_n9_v14/ai_16253766 Axent arises from Raxco fold and "security" - Raxco Inc's Axent Technologies division will provide cross-platform, client/server security solutions - Newsfront - Brief Article | Software Magazine | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ] , and the product was re-named UNIX Privilege Manager(UPM). Axent was subsequently sold to Symantec Corporation, who later spun of UPM and other products as PassGo Technologies, now part of Quest Software.
* Symark continues to sell the product under the
CipherLink, PowerTelnet, and PowerFTP
In 1995, the company began to develop network encryption technologies, again in response to a growing number of similar requests from its customers. Early products in this sphere included
PowerTelnetwhich is comparable to today's ssh, and PowerFTP, which provided encrypted file transfer. In February 1996, Freedman realized that this technology could be generalized, resulting in a general-purpose network encryption solution that would encrypt the traffic of any application, without requiring much, if any, modification to that application. Chmilar, Huxley, and Earle Loweworked tirelessly around the clock to prepare a demonstrable version of this new CipherLinkproduct in time for the Networld+Interoptrade show in April, 1996. The product was extremely well received, and became a finalist for the coveted "Best Product of Show" award at the trade show that year.
In early 1995,
Paul Scripkojoined the company as its first VP of Sales. He and Freedman had met at Unison Tymlabs, where he had assumed responsibility for sales of FSA's Load Balancerproduct line after its acquisition in 1994. Scripko professionalized FSA's sales machine, and the company immediately began to derive higher revenues from larger customers. Also around this time, Benjamin Freedman(brother of Dan Freedman) began to work part-time as the company's VP of Marketing, further enhancing the company's stature and exposure. Gary Neillwas brought on board by Dan Freedmanas a management consultant in the Fall of 1995, and remained with the company until its acquisition by McAfee in 1996. Freedman would likely have installed Neill as CEO of FSA Corporation had the acquisition by McAfee not occurred.
Acquisition by McAfee Associates
In August, 1996, FSA was acquired by antivirus maker
McAfee Associates, which wanted to expand its products from antivirus into the more general security area. The FSA team developed 12 new product lines for McAfee in the following 12 months, including NetCrypto, PCCrypto, WebScan, McAfee Personal Firewall, and a number of other products only some of which were successful. With little interest in UNIX software at that time, McAfee sold the PowerBrokerproduct line to Symark Softwarein a non-exclusive deal. Ironically, McAfee also sold rights to PowerBrokerto Raxco, which was later acquired by arch-rival Symantec. McAfeecontinued its security expansion with the acquisition of Trusted Information Systemsand PGPin the coming years, rounding out its role as a leading supplier of security solutions.
During its tenure, FSA Corporation developed a reputation as a leading-edge technology player with reliable solutions, and exceptionally good customer service. Many of the personnel involved with FSA later joined another Freedman high-technology startup company,
FSA Corporation was funded without the assistance of venture capital or angel investors. Instead, the company truly boot-strapped itself with customer revenues. The company also benefitted from the generous and successful IRAP(
Industrial Research Assistance Program) program operated by the Government of Canada, and a high-technology tax credit known as SREDavailable to Canadian companies. Although the total amount of funds received by the company under these programs was quite small, the funds were made available at exactly the time in the company's life cycle where they would do the most good.
The acquisition of the company by
McAfeein 1996 for $23m was an extremely positive event for the company's employees and customers, and through taxation, allowed the Government of Canadato realize a very good return on the IRAPand SREDmonies its had shared with the company. Similarly, this payback through taxation provided significant evidence of the value of the Government's investment in the University education system that provided the company with the intellectual capital needed to become viable.
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