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Identity Engines Revs Up

Security startup racks up another $13 million but shelves storage plans

Startup Identity Engines clinched $13 million in Series B funding today, although lack of customer demand has forced the identity management startup to shelve plans to tackle the storage market. (See Identity Engines Raises $13M.)

The round, which included Trinity Ventures, Horizon Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, brings Identity Engines' total funding to just under $22 million. (See Identity Engines ID's $8.7M.)

The cash influx comes just seven months after the company unveiled its flagship Ignition product, a device that lets users set access control policies across different networking technologies, including firewalls, routers, and switches, as well as user repositories and authentication systems, such as Microsoft Active Directory and RSA’s authentication server.

Originally, Identity Engines had planned to extend its reach to SAN and NAS boxes. The vendor had already teamed up with a storage virtualization firm to develop a storage security framework. (See Identity Engines Starts Ignition.)

"The relationship still exists, although there is no ongoing activity from a product development standpoint," explains Roy Chua, Identity Engines' vice president of marketing, blaming lack of customer demand. "Identity management on back-end storage systems is not happening yet -- people are still focusing on their network layer," he adds, explaining that he is seeing much more demand for securing the likes of wireless devices.

Rob Whiteley, senior analyst at Forrester Research, told Byte and Switch that he is not surprised by Identity Engines' decision, adding that users are locking down their networks as a first line of defense. "If I solve the network problem then I am automatically going to cut down the number of people accessing information they shouldn’t on back-end storage," he says.

Nonetheless, Chua still believes that users will start considering storage-based identity management, but he admits that it will probably be 12 months before Identity Engines looks at storage again.

Meanwhile, Identity Engines' message appears to be getting through, and the startup has already racked up around 20 customers. Chua, however, would only reveal the identity of one customer: wireless LAN specialist AirMagnet.

The startup will use its new funding to boost sales and marketing efforts. Currently, the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm has only one U.S. office, although Chua says there are plans to open up to four more by the end of the year. The firm, he adds, is also looking to grow its overseas presence by clinching distributor deals in Asia and Europe.

In addition to growing its workforce from 30 to 50 people, the vendor will also enhance the Ignition product later this year. "It's just a matter of making it work faster, better, bigger," explains Chua, although he would not go into specifics.

Controlling who has access to what IT resources has become a major headache for IT managers, who are desperate not to see their companies' names plastered across the media due to security breaches. (See ChoicePoint Appoints Independent Exec.) But this area has also been identified as something of a technology black hole by CIOs and IT managers. (See CIOs Face Identity Crisis.)

Whiteley, however, feels that Identity Engines is well positioned to meet this need and could complement Cisco's high profile Network Admission Control (NAC) strategy. (See Cisco Announces NAC for Mid-Market, Cisco Expands NAC Framework, and Cisco Shores Up Security.) "What Identity Engines does is extend the concept of identity from the likes of Active Directory and LDAP to NAC," he says. As NAC matures, he adds, more and more people will look to build their storage into their network access strategies.

Another startup, A10 Networks, has also stepped into the identity management space, touting its IDSentrie 1000 device as a way to help users extend security policies to their servers and also shift security data onto backend storage devices. (See A10 Networks Seeks Identity .)

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • AirMagnet Inc.
  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)
  • Forrester Research Inc.
  • Identity Engines Inc.
  • Lightspeed Venture Partners
  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • RSA Security Inc. (Nasdaq: EMC)
  • Trinity Ventures
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