Network companies grab up venture capital cash

Network companies grab up venture capital cash

Aveksa, Cirba, Virtual Iron and Zenoss end January with more money in hand

Despite a reported slump in venture funding for network companies, a handful of vendors this month landed venture capital cash.

Industry watchers say many network-industry start-ups still could suffer from the decade's earlier dot-com failures, but Aveksa, Cirba, Virtual Iron Software and Zenoss managed to win investors over and seal funding deals early in 2008. Whether in access controls, virtualization or management technologies, the vendors each offer an innovative approach to solving customer problems, experts said.

Aveksa. Take Aveksa, for instance. The company announced recently it had secured US$12 million in Series B funding led by FTVentures, in addition to its US$6 million first round in June 2004 led by Charles River Ventures and Pequot Ventures.

The company emerged a few years ago with an identity- and access-management platform that provided customers with automated features that make tracking access controls in ever-changing environments feasible. Aveksa's access-governance platform can automate tasks that inform IT security managers what users have access to, how they gained the access, and if security and compliance objectives are being met. Competitors Securent, Vaau and Vontu were acquired last year by Cisco, Sun and Symantec, respectively.

"The need to provide robust, integrated compliance visibility into access controls across the enterprise is of critical importance to FTVentures' global financial services partner network" said Mark Lotke of FTVentures, in a statement. "Aveksa has emerged as one of the industry leaders with its significant domain expertise, deep understanding of these complex business problems and its substantial technology lead."

Cirba. Data center management vendor Cirba also garnered in January US$12 million in a second round of funding led by Sigma Partners. The company, founded in 1999, developed its Data Center Intelligence (DCI) software to detect configuration changes across heterogeneous environments, which Cirba says helps customers with data-center consolidation and virtual-server planning efforts.

Cirba, which previously garnered a US$5 million investment from EdgeStone Capital Venture Fund II in February 2006, contends that DCI will help customers transforming their data center with virtualized infrastructure and enable consistent management in the updated environment.

"Cirba is uniquely positioned to help organizations realize their plans around data-center virtualization. As almost every company today takes on this transformation, it is becoming very clear that the complexity of these initiatives and the resulting, ongoing management challenges necessitate the kind of powerful analytics that only Cirba provides," said John Mandile, managing director of Sigma Partners and new member of Cirba's board of directors, in a statement.

Virtual Iron. Another company capitalizing on the popularity of virtualization is Virtual Iron. The company Monday announced it had secured US$20 million in funding. That brings its total investments to US$65 million from venture capital firms Highland Capital Partners, Matrix Partners, Goldman Sachs, Intel Capital and SAP Ventures.

Virtual Iron competes with VMware in the virtual-server software market. Investors say Virtual Iron offers customers eager to get their hands on virtualization technology an alternative to market leader VMware.

"There is a large and important segment of the market looking for an alternative to VMware, and uncomfortable ceding this market to EMC. This demand is allowing [Virtual Iron] to grow at a fast rate," said David Skok, General Partner at Matrix Partners, in a statement.

Zenoss. Lastly, Zenoss brought in more money for its product that combines open source and network management. The company reported this month it had garnered US$11 million in a Series B round of investment led by Grotech Capital. The money replenishes the US$4.8 million Zenoss secured in 2006 from Boulder Ventures and Intersouth Partners, and previous funding by private investors and the state of Maryland.

Zenoss, which competes with open source management software makers Hyperic and GroundWork Open Source, also reported that 500,000 potential customers downloaded its Core application.

"Zenoss has emerged as a leader in a large software segment that is ripe for disruption," said Don Rainey, General Partner, Grotech Capital Group, in a statement.

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