Alphabet and Cisco Fund Ex-HP Security Lead’s Startup
Art Gilliland, former HP exec and current CEO of Skyport Systems, says he believes there are two types of computer network architectures that are important to the future of cybersecurity.
The first entails cloud access brokers, gatekeepers that manage the traffic flowing between cloud services and corporate networks, he says. (See Blue Coat, Netskope, Skyhigh Networks, Elastica, and Zscaler, for example.) And the second involves “microsegmentation,” a method of protection that divvies up a computer network and controls how its parts, or nodes, interact.
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This latter area is where Gilliland’s new firm, a 3-year-old cybersecurity startup based in Mountain View, Calif., stakes its claim. On Tuesday the company said it raised a $30 million round of funding led by GV, Alphabet’s (GOOG) investment arm (née Google Ventures), bringing its total fundraising to $67 million to date.
Other investors in the Series C round of funding include Cisco (CSCO) Investments, Thomvest Ventures, Northgate Capital, and InstantScale as well as existing investors Index Ventures, Intel (INTC) Capital, and Sutter Hill Ventures.
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Skyport’s product essentially consists of a special network connection card—a security appliance—designed securely to link a company’s servers to the Internet (or an intranet). “Every application gets its own security envelope,” Gilliland says, describing the firm’s hardware-assisted approach to compartmentalizing software programs. “We basically filter all communications, all interactions, from applications to the outside world.”
“Anything not allowed, we block,” he adds.
Three ex-Cisco and Juniper Networks (JNPR) engineers—Michael Beesley, Rob Rodgers, and Will Eatherton—founded Skyport in 2013. Gilliland, who headed enterprise security software at HP prior the company’s breakup into Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and HP Inc. (HPQ), left the tech giant last year to take the reins of the startup. Stefan Dyckerhoff, managing director at Sutter Hill, originally incubated the company at his venture capital firm while serving as interim CEO.
Dave Munichiello, general partner at GV and Amazon (AMZN) alum, tells Fortune that his decision to invest in the company reflects his changing attitudes about corporate IT infrastructure. “If you had talked to me three years ago I would have said it was inevitable that 100% of workloads would go to the cloud,” he says.
“As I’ve spent more time with portfolio companies, I’ve seen a hybrid approach from enterprise IT execs,”continues Munichiello, who has also invested in Slack and CoreOS. “Some workload goes to the public cloud, some to a private cloud, some to a hybrid—that’s the trend I see over the next 10 years.”
Despite many companies now undergoing a shift to cloud infrastructure, Skyport aims to help secure in-house networks. One of the company’s biggest competitors in the microsegmentation market is VMware, owned by EMC (EMC) (soon Dell). Smaller firms that offer similar features include data center security startups vArmour and Illumio.
“Most breaches occur through vendor connections into an IT environment,” Gilliland says, outlining the problem his firm seeks to solve. “Our system controls what’s allowed in that environment.”