Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Stealth Security Startup Illumio Secures $34 Million From General Catalyst

More funding details are starting to emerge about Illumio, a mysterious stealth security startup.

The company has just closed a significant $34 million Series B round of venture capital funding led by General Catalyst Partners. It’s the second deal announced this month for Steve Herrod, the longtime CTO and head of research and development at VMware, who joined General Catalyst as its latest partner earlier this year. Earlier this month, he led a $25 million investment by General Catalyst in data-backup service Datto. Update: Herrod just announced the investment in a blog post.

Prior investor Andreessen Horowitz also participated in the round, along with new investor, venture capital firm Formation 8. Its part of the deal was negotiated by Joe Lonsdale, the co-founder of Palantir Technologies. Additionally, sources familiar with the deal tell AllThingsD that the round includes personal investments from CEO Marc Benioff and Box CEO Aaron Levie. The company received an $8 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz in March, bringing its total capital raised to $42 million.

The company is still in stealth mode, so Herrod (pictured from his VMWare days at right) didn’t go into too much detail about what it does and how it does it. But, in broad brushstrokes, he said it’s about securing applications running in the virtual machines that are the backbone of cloud computing. “Basically, it’s about protecting each application, independent of where it’s running,” he told me. “The application should be securely wrapped as it moves around your data center, whether its running in Amazon Web Services or in OpenStack or a VMware environment.”

One thing Herrod did say: He likes the team. Illumio is run by Andrew Rubin, the former CEO of Cymtec. Another recent hire is Ben Verghese, former VP and chief management architect at VMware. Alan Cohen, a former Cisco Systems exec, joined as chief commercial officer by way of Nicira, the networking startup that was acquired by VMware last year. Matthew Glenn, a former VP at Intel’s McAfee security unit, recently joined as VP of product management.

Virtualization is a key technology that enables cloud computing. When a computer is virtualized, its physical hardware is carved up by software that allows one computer to act like many. In cloud-computing settings, these “virtual machines” are easily spun up via software, and are usually running and configured within minutes, rather than hours, as would be required by a new physical computer. VMware is a significant vendor of virtualization technology. Virtualization is also taking hold in other parts of the data center, including networking and storage.

Most current security measures have been developed with physical machines in mind, so there are lingering worries that new kinds of attacks might leverage the virtualization technology itself. Illumio appears to be aiming at securing that piece of the data-center puzzle, and those worries along with it. We’ll see more about that as it starts to emerge from stealth mode.

Correction: I initially listed Formation 8 as a prior investor. It’s actually a new investor in Illumio.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik