Cisco invests in virtualization security start-up

Networking vendor and other investors splash $10.5 million on start-up company HyTrust

Cisco and several other investors have given $10.5 million to HyTrust, a start-up that is tackling some of the thornier security problems posed by the growing popularity of VMware's virtualization platform.

HyTrust won "Best of Show" at last year's VMworld, the major virtualization conference hosted by VMware, and was named of Network World's 10 start-ups to watch in 2010.

When HyTrust launched its first product last April it already had $5.5 million in venture capital from Trident Capital and Epic Ventures. Now the company has added a second round of financing with the existing investors as well as Cisco and Granite Ventures.

HyTrust sells a hardware- or software-based appliance that gives administrators a central point from which to control access, policy management, security configuration and compliance in virtual environments. Analysts have praised HyTrust's technology for solving authentication problems in VMware's hypervisor with more granular auditing and security controls, and for letting administrators set policies that won't be overridden by other tools.

In an announcement Wednesday HyTrust said the new funding will aid in development, sales and marketing.

Cisco's investment is indicative of the network vendor's increasing focus on virtualization. Cisco has developed software switches for virtualization deployments and its Unified Computing System uses VMware to create large pools of virtual resources. Cisco also recently teamed with NetApp and VMware on a security project designed to isolate applications sharing the same physical resources.

Even before receiving investment from Cisco, HyTrust had integrated its own products with Cisco's Unified Computing System and the Nexus 1000v virtual switch. The funding announcement did not say how much of the $10.5 million was contributed by Cisco.

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