TOP 100: Unisys pushes 'Stealth' plan, eyes acquisitions

Unisys sees its Stealth cybersecurity software as a way to broaden its federal footprint and an acquisition or two might help too.

Unisys has redoubled its efforts to get federal agencies to take advantage of its security software line known as Stealth in the wake of significant sales of the product in the commercial and international government marketplaces.

The company's market strategy for the microsegmentation software includes deploying Stealth in different settings and frameworks for new and existing customers, as well as making it available to technology partners for them to use for their IT projects.

“We have taken [Stealth] and put it into a global context to protect a mobile device or, for that matter, any legacy device, system, or equipment,” said Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, senior vice president, Unisys Federal. “We can also put this in a public or private cloud. That is taking the microsegmentation to the next level.”

The Blue Bell, Pa., global IT company is ranked No. 41 on the 2018 Washington Technology Top 100 list.

Unisys has more than 100 customers in both the government and commercial sectors using the sophisticated microsegmentation software that thwarts hackers by reducing the surface area for cyberattack, company officials said. The company declined to break down the number of Stealth customers by government and commercial sectors.

The determination to continue to push Stealth, which is now in its third major version, comes on the heels of a solid year in which the company won nearly all of its contracts that were up for renewal, Puvvada said. “As customers saw that we were delivering well and bringing innovation they then extended and expanded a lot of our existing contracts,” he said.

Unisys’ U.S. federal business accounted for $570.9 million of the company’s $2.74 billion revenue in 2017. The company also draws a nearly equal amount of revenue by combining its U.S. state and local and international government businesses. The company has told its investors that it expects to grow at an annual rate of 3 percent to 5 percent in the coming years.

Puvvada said the federal government is investing heavily in cloud computing, IT automation, and infrastructure modernization. He said a strong demand also exists in the government sector for services such as DevSecOps, agile applications development, and the Internet of Things.

Puvvada also said the Trump Administration is interested in transferring innovative ideas from the commercial to the government sector. The administration “wants to drive acquisition fast and get the outcomes, which we see as a positive,” he said.

He also said the administration is interested in transferring innovative ideas from the commercial to the government sector. He said the push for commercial technology transfer plays to Unisys’ strengths because the company has a large global commercial business. 

Puvvada noted that many of the current technology modernization and efficiency initiatives have bipartisan support on Capitol Hill as evidenced by legislation such as the Modernizing Government Technology Act enacted as part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. In regard to IT modernizations, the company is well positioned because of its cloud and DevSecOps capabilities that can help agencies tackling minimize vulnerabilities and bring security closer to IT and business objectives, he said.

In the cyber age, federal agencies are naturally preoccupied with security. Puvvada said. “We look at security as a whole, as a big imperative,” he said.

Unisys is leveraging Stealth on large services projects such as one it is tackling for the Transportation Security Administration. In November Unisys unseated incumbent contractor General Dynamics to win TSA’s five-year Domain Awareness Integrated Network Support Services. Stealth will enable the agency to tie together all of its airport screening equipment on a single large network. The microsegmentation strategy will secure users, data, applications and systems from all manner of cyber threats.

Unisys will furnish TSA with a secure platform that will seamlessly integrate data collected from passenger and baggage screening equipment. “Stealth will end up being a smaller part of the larger $250 million contract ceiling,” said Puvvada. “The same thing holds true with another half dozen other large deals we won in which Stealth ends up being a differentiator.”

In addition to cybersecurity, Unisys landed key wins in the past year for agile development services, cloud and mobile computing, and big data analytics.

In January the company announced it had won a five-year, $250 million blanket purchase agreement with the Public Buildings Service at General Services Administration to furnish agile applications development, mobile and cloud computing platforms, and help desk services. The work also entails program support for building and energy systems.

The company said in December that it had won a five-year, $10 million deal with the National Archives and Records Administration to deliver Google G Suite Enterprise, a cloud-based, e-mail and collaboration technology capability that will enable employees to better protect and preserve government records. The new contract expands upon on a previous cloud-services engagement held by Unisys, in that the company will now also provide the agency with unlimited storage and mobile device management.

Unisys expanded its cloud business in the federal sector by winning a contract with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to furnish high-performance computing operations for the agency’s cloud platform. The task order, which was announced in October 2017, is worth $3.2 million.

More recently, the company announced in May that it had won a task order with the Customs and Border Protection agency to build and manage risk assessment systems. Under the contract, Unisys will assess the risk associated with people and cargo entering the country. The new systems will allow employees to leverage big data analytics, biometrics, and the cloud.

Company officials declined to give the precise value of the five-and-a-half year contact, which has 10 six-month options, but they said it potentially is worth hundreds of millions.

Although Unisys has traditionally refrained from acquisitions, it is now warming to the idea, Puvvada said. The company’s mindset was to focus primarily on “organic growth in tune with our value proposition,” he said.

Where acquisition activity would be most desirous is in reaching clients in new domains, not in supplementing the company’s IT capabilities, Puvvada said. “We don’t think it will be as much of a capabilities play, as opposed to a domain play,” he said.

He said the company is actively looking to move into a domain where it doesn’t have a presence today. For example, the company is not a key player in either health or intelligence, he said. “At this point in time the company is exploring a number of possible deals,” he said. “But they have to have the right strategic fit, size, and scope.”

With that said, the company intends to move cautiously. “We want to find the right fit from a culture standpoint,” Puvvada said. “We want to get the best value out of these. Everybody is in the market to buy stuff [and] we don’t want to be in the rat race.”