Security and the Software-Defined Datacenter

Leading a Big Investment in Illumio

Stephen Herrod

As I first discussed in May of 2012, we are in the early stages of a move towards the Software-Defined Datacenter. The implications on compute, storage, networking, and management tools are profound, and we’re only just beginning to understand the implications on the rest of our IT world.

Given this transformation, I’m more convinced than ever that the entire IT infrastructure industry will be disrupted and that the current opportunity to create great new companies is unparalleled. Many years from now, I want to be seen as an investor who was ridiculously helpful in aiding founders in creating these new companies. Heading forward, I’ll blog to discuss the great companies that I back and the rationale behind my decision-making.

Leading a Big Investment in Illumio

Today, I am very excited to announce one of my very first investments. General Catalyst is leading a $34 Million B round investment in Illumio and I will join their board of directors. I’m pleased to be joining other great investors including Andreessen Horowitz (led by Board Partner John Jack) and Formation 8 (led by Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale). As with all investments, this decision is driven by the space, the technology, and the people.

The Space — Security

Security is both one of the enablers of the Software-Defined Datacenter as well as an infrastructure category in its own right. Thus I believe security provides an enormous opportunity for disruption as threats continue to rise in both number and sophistication, and our industry’s historic and current approaches are either stretched thin or will not keep up. The latter is driven by two mega-trends:

  • Mobile, multi-service applications — In the era of identity computing, we’re accessing applications on-the-go, and these applications are actually mash-ups of multiple services running in multiple places. The traditional perimeter-based approach to network security just doesn’t work very well in this world. A castle’s moat is only effective if all of the good stuff is inside the castle and all of the bad stuff is outside!
  • Infrastructure fluidity — As if the application side of things wasn’t challenging enough, we’re also now in a world where server virtualization is the norm and equally disruptive networking and storage transformations are on the way. Moreover, the same application may be running in either a private or public cloud (or across both). The days of deploying security software and appliances based on static (and known!) server, LUN, and subnet information are numbered.

For these and other reasons, you’ll see the rise of new security companies with dramatically new approaches to solving these problems. I believe Illumio will be one of these great new companies.

The Technology – Stay Tuned

Illumio currently is in stealth mode, but suffice it to say that I am very impressed with the approach that they are taking and the code that they have already completed. We’ll share a lot more in the future, but one clue is that the company addresses this issue: how an application is protected should be independent of where that application is running or what infrastructure it is running on. Once we move out of stealth mode, I’ll certainly share more of the magic around this.

The People — A Convergence of Expertise

Last, but actually first in importance, is the people. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some truly amazing business leaders, coders, and visionaries in my career, and that has really raised the bar for what I consider excellence to look like. And I clearly see this excellence in the founding leadership team of Illumio — Andrew Rubin, PJ Kirner, Ben Verghese, Alan Cohen, Matthew Glenn and Alan Stokol. Individually they have been leaders in networking, virtualization, and security. As a group, they’re deeply collaborative in combining their expertise to build a great team, a great product, and a great company.

I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this team or more excited about the opportunity ahead. Stay tuned for substantially more as we come out of stealth mode!

    Stephen Herrod

    Written by

    General Catalyst (@gcvp), former VMware CTO. Enjoyer of Italian coffee, wine, sports, Belgian Beer, travel, and fun.

    Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
    Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
    Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade