It was one of the scariest phone calls Dan FitzGerald had ever received.
His mom had suffered five heart attacks during the night. Dan immediately hopped on a plane from Omaha, Nebraska to Fort Worth, Texas to be by her side.
Fully expecting she would no longer be alive by the time he arrived, he was surprised to find nurses high-fiving each other when he entered the hospital. “The doctors couldn’t explain it,” Dan recalled. “She was in total renal failure when I left my home. She dramatically reversed course.” Thinking his mom was not long for this world, he called his wife and said he wanted their kids to spend time with his mother. Nineteen days later they moved to Texas.
At the time, Dan was serving as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Travel and Transport, the 13th largest travel company in the world. He’d joined the company as a software developer after serving in the military. Rapidly moving up the ladder, he was fast-tracked and promoted five times in four years, becoming the CTO for the entire company within just five years.
While taking a four-month sabbatical to nurse his mother back to health, he thought hard about what to do moving forward.
“I always loved programming and finding ways to solve problems by writing software solutions,” Dan said. “And I always wanted to own my own business.”
His passion for computers and technology sparked early in 1980 when he was just twelve years old. At a time when most people didn’t own a computer, let alone know what it could do, Dan was already begging his parents and grandparents to buy him one. He’d discovered computers while his mom shopped at Sears. Hanging out in the electronics department, he befriended an employee who told him all about computers and what they could do. During frequent repeat visits, he convinced the employee to give him the computer passwords so he could teach himself how to program. “I started programming to kill time while I waited for my mom,” Dan said. “One of my first big programs was to write the game Donkey Kong on my Texas Instruments computer. I brought it into Sears and loaded it onto their computer and started playing. Everyone wanted to know how I did it.”
By the time he was fourteen, he saved up $1200 from mowing lawns—enough money to buy another computer and a phone line. “I ran a bulletin board system on my computer so people could call my computer, leave messages, chat, and play online games,” Dan said. In high school, he worked in a video rental store and wrote software solutions to keep track of all their videotapes.
Due to the cost of college, he joined the military where he was hand-selected for multiple top-secret projects by the base commander as well as helping to write the Software Development Standards for the entire United States Air Force.
Given his background, while caring for his mom, Dan toyed with the idea of starting a software development company. But, while reflecting on his discoveries from working at Travel and Transport, he thought about how frustrating his vendor experience had been. “I continuously dealt with vendors who tried to sell our company what we didn’t need,” Dan said. “I knew better, but I couldn’t help but think about the Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) who didn’t understand the technology available.” In 1999, disgusted with the thought of vendors taking advantage of SMBs, Dan founded StormsEdge Technology in Fort Worth, Texas, to help SMBs implement technology properly.
Over the years, StormsEdge has evolved from an On-Demand IT services model to a Managed Services Provider (MSP) in 2005. In 2013, Dan built a private cloud services infrastructure to become a Cloud Services Provider (CSP). In 2017, he added cybersecurity services and technology to protect his clients from the growing number of cyber-attacks and increased threats to SMBs, becoming a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP).
True to his original mission, Dan doesn’t charge extra for these added services. It’s one flat fee. There’s no watered-down version either. That’s why today StormsEdge is the leading Cyber Security, Managed IT, and Cloud Service provider in the Dallas/Fort Worth area serving attorneys, manufacturers, and construction companies. Clients are loyal. Many have been with him for over twenty years and include prominent clients such as the largest masonry company in Texas, DMG Masonry; Texacone, a worldwide distributor of elevator seals and gaskets; and criminal defense attorneys such as Burleson, Pate and Gibson.
Over the past several years, Dan doubled down on his commitment to helping clients who don’t want to deal with technology. Clients love that they don’t have to worry about things being done right which has contributed to his considerable growth. While maintaining his profit, he grew his monthly recurring revenue by 21% in 2018, 31% in 2019, 28% in 2020, and he’s on track to see 40% growth in 2021.
Why Using A CSP With Its Own Infrastructure Protects Your Data Better
Dan is one of a very select few MSSPs who developed and built his own infrastructure to better protect his clients’ data and mitigate any impacts due to any type of business interruption. “We take complete ownership of our clients’ networks,” Dan said. “We become their IT department and have 100% of our clients’ data residing on our own equipment so that nothing is sitting out there on a public cloud. I did this because I never wanted to be in a position where I had to tell my client there was nothing I could do to help. This gives me control over potential cybersecurity issues, potential outages, and so on. I can put in place workarounds whereas if I was reselling something like Office 365, and it goes down, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
In one such example, a client experienced a burglary where seventeen computers and two servers were stolen from their facility. Within 24 hours, StormsEdge had the client back up and running with new servers and new PCs in place. Because we built our own backup infrastructure, we got 100% of their data restored very quickly,” Dan said.
A Leading Cybersecurity, Computer And Cell Phone Forensic Expert In The Country
Dan has extensive experience doing forensic work on PCs, servers, networks and cell phones. He is one of a select few forensic experts in the country with over 16 years of experience. Due to his experience, training and certifications, he has been flown to many states across the US to testify and help in both state and federal court cases. This unique experience has made him a leading expert in cybersecurity and gives him the ability to vet tools properly to ensure clients have proper coverage. “I understand the anatomy of the way attackers go about getting into a network,” Dan said. “I’ve dissected the entire attack process to see what happens. Then I went through and selected extremely specific products for blocking attacks.”
Dan’s expertise also led him to write a book on cybersecurity called Caught in the Middle / The War Between Business, Technology, and Hackers, coming out in 2021.
Multi-Phased Faceted Protection Mitigates Issues Before They Become A Problem
Unlike most MSPs who only provide a single phase of cybersecurity protection, StormsEdge provides two phases of protection each with many facets. The first phase is aimed at keeping people from getting into the network. The second phase protects from inside your network for when someone in your organization falls for clicking on a hacker’s link.
In 2017, he built his own Security Incident and Event Management System (SIEM), which provides real-time analysis of alerts, because a cost-effective one didn’t exist for SMBs. “There were SIEM’s for big enterprises, but nothing existed to protect SMBs,” Dan said.
For extra protection, he also has not one, but two separate Security Operation Centers (SOC) that are manned 24/7 for the sole purpose of monitoring the networks. “That’s done by design,” Dan said. “Each SOC is looking for something characteristically different.”
Plus, StormsEdge is one of the few MSP/MSSPs that has a Certified Information Security Professional (CISSP) on staff. “People want to ensure their cybersecurity is truly taken care of by people who understand it,” Dan explained. “This allows them to avoid getting bogged down with having to deal with the minutia of it so they can focus on doing what they are best at running their company.”
Always Striving For Perfect Implementation
One of Dan’s core values is innovation through constant continuous improvement. Ingrained in him from his grandmother, who taught him that every day he should “strive to be better,” Dan heavily invests in technology tools and constantly monitors, tests, and replaces tools as necessary to ensure clients always have the best solutions in place. “It’s all about trying to reach perfect implementation, which in technology you’re never going to reach because it’s always evolving,” Dan explained. “Cyber-attacks are happening today that aren’t being stopped by technology that’s only a year old. A little more advanced, a little more secure, so we are constantly looking for something that can raise the bar.”
It’s been twenty-two years since Dan’s wake-up call. His mom is still alive and doing well and Dan has more clarity and passion than ever about helping small businesses. “When I go home, my idea of enjoying a nice relaxing evening is cracking open a good computer book and figuring out how to write a program,” Dan said. “My passion is also my profession. That’s why I want to help SMBs who don’t have that passion for technology and, in a lot of cases, are frustrated by it. I’m never going to push technology on them that’s not right for their business. I want to only bring solutions that are in alignment with what they want to accomplish so I can help them get to the next level.” For more information on StormsEdge visit www.StormsEdge.com.