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Versa Networks, a security vendor in the software-defined networking space, today announced that it closed an $84 million series D funding round co-led by Princeville Capital and RPS Ventures, with additional participation from Sequoia Capital, an existing investor. CEO Kelly Ahuja says that the proceeds — which bring Versa’s total raised to $196 million — will be put toward scaling the company’s platform and expanding its marketing and global sales teams.

According to Gartner, the secure access service edge market (SASE) is expected to be worth almost $11 billion by 2024, with least 40% of enterprises having SASE strategies in place over the next three years. A term coined by Gartner, SASE aims to simplify wide-area networking and security by delivering both as a cloud service directly to the source of connection — i.e., an edge computing location — rather than an enterprise datacenter. Security is based around identity, real-time context, and enterprise security and compliance policies. As for identity, it can be attached to anything from a person to a device, branch office, cloud service, application, or an IoT system.

San Jose, California-based Versa was founded in 2012 by brothers Kumar and Apurva Mehta following an 8-year stay at Juniper Networks, where they led the development of Juniper’s MX series routers and mobility portfolio. During their tenure, the Mehta brothers came across a customer need to integrate cloud services services into routers, which presented complexities. They developed a software-defined, programmable solution that integrated network and security with a decoupling of software and hardware, which formed the basis of Versa’s first product.

“During the pandemic, many businesses used the downtime in branch offices to accelerate refreshes and prepare for the upturn, and shifted priority to enabling work-from-anywhere, including a hybrid environment. The results were stellar as we experienced two times year-over-year growth,” Ahuja told VentureBeat via email. “Versa is among the fastest-growing companies in one of the fastest-growing categories. The demand for our solution has been astronomical. We are not opportunity-limited, but have been capacity-limited in our go-to-market.”

SASE

Available via the cloud, on-premises, or as a hybrid of both, Versa’s platform connects enterprise branches and end-users to remote apps. It offers an architecture combining security, networking, analytics, and automation into one software solution, with hardware appliances and admin dashboards that offer policy configuration and access control options.

According to Ahuja, Versa uses AI and machine learning for several aspects of its platform, including in its networking and security in addition to its its management, orchestration, and analytics tools. “In networking and security, we use telemetry datasets from the various elements, as well as from the underlay or cloud and software-as-a-service reachability, to program the optimal path to connect users to applications,” he explained. “In our management, orchestration and analytics, we use all the datasets gathered to train [machine learning] models that allow for faster and automated correlation of operational issues and resolving them.”

Beyond security incumbents like Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks, Versa considers Cisco, VMware, and Fortinet its competitors. But the company, which has close to 500 employees, has managed to attract over 5,000 customers and more than 500,000 sites under contract to date.

“Versa enables multi-cloud deployments for small to very large enterprises with security, reliability, and complete visibility for IT organizations,” Ahuja said. “It supports enterprise-wide internet of things implementations by automatically detecting new devices, authenticating, and applying appropriate policies and security practices for each device … And it delivers secure, high-performance, and low-latency deployments for unified communications, videoconferencing, and VoIP to enterprise branch offices, remote teleworkers, and home-based call agents, ensuring a high-quality experience.”

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