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About work at unicon history

The Unicon Story

Unicon was founded in May of 1993 as a UNIX system and software consulting company. Our founders, current CEO, John Blakley, and President, Chris Franz, met while working at Arizona State University (ASU) in the Engineering Computer Services department. Corporations began calling ASU and requesting assistance for their UNIX systems. Our founders recognized this business opportunity and formed Unicon as a UNIx CONsulting company. Since 1993 we have gained a strong customer following that includes higher education institutions, education technology companies, corporations, government entities, and nonprofit organizations.   

In the late ‘90s, Cisco Systems® retained Unicon to develop learning management technologies in support of its new Networking Academy® program. At the time the program was the largest e-learning roll-out in the world. Since 1997, Cisco Networking Academy has helped over 6 million people prepare for careers in IT.

Drawing on our new expertise in learning technology, we diversified our offerings and expanded into the higher education market in 2002. The following year we acquired Interactive Business Solutions (IBS), a company that had an outstanding market presence and was well recognized in the uPortal® (an open source enterprise portal) higher education community. We entered the learning management system (LMS) market in 2004, and became one of the first Sakai® (an open source LMS) Commercial Affiliates.

We fostered our presence in the education technology publishing market in 2005, developing three homework management systems for publishers. Building close relationships with our clients allowed us to attain insight into the business challenges they face, especially in regards to digital content delivery and learning technology.

As our involvement in open source communities evolved, we recognized the market’s need for a commercial support provider for open source projects. In 2007, we introduced our innovative Cooperative Support (now Open Source Support) program. Today the program offers commercial technical support for our clients’ open source projects including Central Authentication Service (CAS), Grouper, Sakai, Shibboleth, Student Success Plan (SSP), and uPortal. 

Acknowledging the high demand among clients for services and support of additional open source technologies, we expanded our service offerings in 2009 to include other Java-based portals, web single sign-on (SSO), federated web SSO, email, online video delivery, and mobile computing. We also began providing services for proprietary open source projects including the Kaltura Video Platform, Liferay® Portal, and Zimbra® Collaboration Server.

Two years later, in 2011, we started to offer services for open source federated web SSO, and became an Internet2® Industry Member and InCommon® Affiliate (now Internet2 Trust & Identity Services Provider) and an InCommon Participant. Also in 2011 we introduced services to deliver mobile computing on-premise or via an application hosting model.

We celebrated 20 years of providing IT consulting, services, and support to institutions and organizations in 2013. 

We formalized our service offering for Hosting and Managed Services in 2013, and the following year we became an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Consulting Partner. Also in 2014 we were selected by the California Community Collleges (CCC) for portal software development services.

We continued our relationship with CCC in the 2015, when stakeholders of the CCC Common Assessment Initiative (CAI) made the recommendation to contract with Unicon for development of a custom assessment platform, CCCAssess.

We expanded our Identity and Access Management (IAM) practice in 2015 from higher education to include corporations, with a focus on publishing/ media, manufacturing, and retail companies. Unicon also established a service offering for IAM in the Cloud in 2015, providing institutions and organizations with a hosted Shibboleth® Identity Provider (IdP).

Over the last 24 years, we have become widely recognized as a pioneer of open source software and a leading provider of IT professional services for higher education. Clients’ depend on our deep expertise in open source software and our involvement in open source communities to help solve their business challenges. We support open standards and continue to make major contributions to them. 

We offer enterprise services and deployments of open source software for:

We respond to market needs, and provide relevant solutions to our clients. Our expertise is in application development, systems integration, technology solutions, and commercial support for open source projects. Unicon provides large-scale consulting firm professionalism and capabilities, with the agility, personalized service, and relationships of a small company.

Institutions and organizations rely on Unicon to find solutions that meet business challenges through IT consulting, services, and support for education technology.