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5/16/2014
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OpenDNS Receives $35M Investment in Enterprise Security Vision

OpenDNS received a $35 million boost recently to build out its capabilities as it walks along its roadmap for cloud-based enterprise security and big data analytics.

The investment, which comes from a collection of venture capitalists and networking giant Cisco Systems, will help the company build out its roadmap in three areas: intelligence, threat visibility, and integrating with enterprise workflows, tools, and systems to create a healthy security ecosystem.

"We want to identify more threats, so that means collect and analyze more data, do more research, and find more bad stuff," says David Ulevitch, CEO of OpenDNS. "We want to see more threats, which means having broader coverage across more devices, see more traffic, do deeper packet inspection, and have the ability to block even more threats, regardless of port, protocol, or application."

Combined with its ability to identify advanced security threats and its delivery model, the company is growing "like crazy," Ulevitch says. "And now we have $35 million to make that all happen even faster."

That $35 million comes from a number of sources such as Sequoia Capital, which was already invested in OpenDNS, and new investors like Northgate Capital.  Another is Cisco Systems, which, according to Gartner analyst Lawrence Orans, has clear synergies with OpenDNS when it comes to analytics.

"[OpenDNS] uses its large pool of DNS queries… to detect attack patterns as they develop in the early stages," says Orans. "Cisco is making a push into big-data analytics. Earlier this year, it announced Cognitive Threat Analytics, based on its acquisition of [Cognitive Security] last year. CTA analyzes web logs to establish patterns, for example, activity by geography. It's clear that Cisco is promoting cloud-based analytics, and its investment in OpenDNS will give it access to technology that is complementary to what it already owns."

For its part, Cisco told Dark Reading the company wants to be a part of changes in the security market that could be meaningful to Cisco customers.

"Cloud-delivered security services are expected to increase over the next several years as a way for customers to protect their users and environments," a Cisco spokesperson told us. "In addition, we want to invest in the companies and technology that align with Cisco’s strategy to deliver intelligent cyber security for the real world."

Currently, OpenDNS says it has 50 million daily active users of its services in addition to more than 10,000 enterprise customers using its security solutions. Its portfolio is centered on its Umbrella security service and a predictive threat intelligence platform known as Security Graph. Due to its position in the network and use of big-data analytics and machine learning, the company says that each second its technology processes more than a million Internet events to discover and predict when and where on the Internet new attacks are being staged.

One of the biggest takeaways of the deal, says Forrester Research analyst Rick Holland, is that it is an investment in how security will be done in the future.

"The days of on-premises security appliances are numbered, and cloud-based security is the only way to scale as more and more users are moving outside the perimeter protection of premises-based appliances," he says. "Less macro, but something I like as well -- OpenDNS Security Graph. OpenDNS does a great job of visualizing their DNS data in a meaningful way. It is great for incident response. It is one of the few examples of big data that actually is useful to enterprises." 

"OpenDNS is the future of enterprise security, protecting workers the way they work today," Stefan Dyckerhoff, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures and former senior executive at both Cisco and Juniper Networks, said in a statement. "We are proud to be an investor in the company and believe in the team and its mission."

Brian Prince is a freelance writer for a number of IT security-focused publications. Prior to becoming a freelance reporter, he worked at eWEEK for five years covering not only security, but also a variety of other subjects in the tech industry. Before that, he worked as a ... View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Moderator
5/16/2014 | 9:29:53 PM
In the right place at the right time
OpenDNS is in the right place at the right time. The latest $35 million brings to $53 million the total investment in the company. The controls it can impose over URLs accessed fits perfectly into the growth of mobile computing and mobile security concerns,
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