Kanata's Solace says move into aviation space aiding its market ascent

Air traffic control tower

An Ottawa software firm that helps streamline the flow of data across high-speed networks is expanding its services to a high-profile U.S. aviation customer as it continues to diversify beyond its traditional sweet spot in the financial sector.

Solace said this week the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has begun using the company’s cloud-based software platform to collect and disseminate real-time information for its NextGen Weather Systems.

The system crunches data from sources such as weather radar and environmental satellites to predict where air travel routes might run into bad weather and flag potential en-route safety hazards hours in advance.

“We're excited to be working with the FAA to make the skies safer for travellers while optimizing available airspace and helping airlines operate more efficiently,” Solace CEO Denis King said in a statement. 

In a world where invisible streams of data are constantly flowing from one point to another at lightning speed through a series of “events” – say, the swipe of a credit card or a scan of a boarding pass – Solace’s software smooths out bumps along the way, ensuring all that information gets from point A to point B as quickly and securely as possible. 

RBC, Barclays on client list

Launched nearly 20 years ago, the company primarily has served banks and other financial institutions. Among its marquee customers are Barclays, the Royal Bank of Canada and SAP.

Under former CEO Les Rechan’s watch, the company shifted several years ago from a traditional enterprise sales model to a subscription-focused platform that now delivers cloud-based software to clients in a wide variety of industries, from aviation and retail to gaming and manufacturing.

Solace already has a fairly long-standing relationship with the FAA. But this week’s news helps the company cement its place as a trusted technology partner for “mission-critical operations” such as air navigation service providers, said Solace’s Jonathan Schabowsky, a senior architect in the office of chief technology officer Shawn McAllister.

“So whether it’s millions and billions of dollars on the line or whether it's the efficiency of the U.S. air space, these are equally important concerns, and we continue to broaden our reach in our domain,” Schabowsky said in an interview Thursday.

Working with the FAA has paved the way for deals with other customers in the aviation space such as Hong Kong’s Airport Authority, which signed on with Solace earlier this year, he added.

“The FAA gives us very good credibility to continue to pursue those opportunities,” Schabowsky said.

Solace now employs about 300 people, two-thirds of them here in the National Capital Region and the rest at 15 sales and support offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. This summer, the company landed millions of dollars in federal loans to help it ramp up its global sales and marketing efforts.