Former Homeland Security Department CIO Richard Spires is jumping back into the startup technology world as the new CEO of Resilient Network Systems, a San Francisco-based provider of Internet servers designed to protect data and application content.
Spires, who until last May led DHS's overall IT operations and managed a $5.6 billion annual budget portfolio, will be taking the helm of company still in its infancy but backed by some notable technology heavyweights. Among them are Bill Coleman, founder of BEA Systems, and Jonathan Hare, founder of Consilient, an Internet software firm that pioneered XML-based collaborative application technology.
Resilient Network Systems specializes in Web-scale infrastructure, developing trusted networks for sharing sensitive information. The company's Access Server and Trusted Broker software create trusted environments over the Web using an advanced set of controls to authenticate user identities and permit the flow of sensitive information between disparate organizations and users.
The company's "trust networks" allow healthcare providers, for example, to discover and access information over the Web while preserving security and the privacy of its users. The company, founded in 2008 and financed with angel funding, is targeting enterprise customers in healthcare, supply chain, education, and government.
[Are your IT program management disciplines where they need to be? Read Lessons For HealthCare.gov: Former DHS CIO Talks Recovery.]
Spires is hardly a stranger to startup businesses. After spending nearly 17 years directing technical initiatives for the financial, telecommunications, and legal markets for SRA International, Spires succeeded in raising funds to spin out Mantras, a data analytics firm. The company was subsequently acquired, reportedly providing a substantial positive return for its investors.
Spires told InformationWeek via email that his decision to join Resilient was based on several criteria: "I wanted to be in a firm that I felt culturally aligned with; which I could make a significant contribution; and that has the potential to make a big positive difference in the markets it serves," he said.
"In my eight years in government, both at IRS and DHS, I faced issues with how to address sharing information and conduct transactions with outside stakeholders, whether it be taxpayers, state and local governments, law enforcement agencies, or corporations." He said traditional approaches to identity management, security, and privacy do not adequately address these issues. He said Resilient Network Systems offers "game-changing technology that has the potential to help many vertical markets, including healthcare, education, manufacturing, and government."
Spires said he plans to stay in the Washington, D.C., through 2014, due to personal commitments, but will spend a "significant percentage of his time in San Francisco" and then reassess next fall whether to relocate, depending on "what is best for the company."
Spires led one of the government's largest business IT modernization projects for the Internal Revenue Service, eventually become IRS CIO and a deputy commissioner for operations before being recruited to the Homeland Security Department's top IT post. He also gained a broad perspective of government IT and security issues as vice chairman of the Federal Government CIO Council and as co-chairman of the Committee for National Security Systems (CNSS).
"Richard Spires's experience at the IRS and DHS uniquely qualifies him to understand the challenges of delivering robust security and privacy while sharing highly sensitive data across disparate organizations … on a national scale," said Resilient founder Jonathan Hare in a statement. Hare, who had been CEO, will now serve as executive chairman.
Company sources said Bill Coleman, a lead investor in Resilient through Alsop Louie Partners (ALP) who once served as the company's CEO, will continue to serve as board director. Coleman, who earlier in his career cofounded Sun Microsystem's federal division after a career in the US Air Force, said, "[Spires] understands exactly how our neutral platform and ecosystem of partners can solve many of the thorniest problems in the public and private sectors."
Wyatt Kash is editor of InformationWeek Government.
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