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Infrastructure access platform StrongDM today announced that it raised $54 million in a series B round led by Tiger Global, with participation from GV, Sequoia Capital, True Ventures, HearstLab, Bloomberg Beta, and Godfrey Sullivan. According to cofounder and CEO Elizabeth Zalman, the proceeds will be put toward supporting “all parts” of StrongDM’s go-to-market strategy over the coming months.
The adoption of the cloud increased the complexity of infrastructure access management. DevOps teams are tasked with the demands of scaling processes as well as keeping security and compliance mandates in mind. Platforms exist to cover certain protocols, but these can exacerbate rather than address the problem. Not all infrastructure access management platforms were designed for the heterogeneous environments common today.
StrongDM’s solution is a tool that manages and audits access to servers, databases, datacenters, and more. The Burlingame, California-based company combines authentication, authorization, networking, and observability into one service, delivering infrastructure access controls across legacy and multicloud environments.
StrongDM was founded by Zalman, Schuyler Brown, and Justin McCarthy in 2015. For Brown and Zalman, it was borne out of a personal experience at their previous employer. The employer had a data breach — a hacker got in, exposed 100 million MAC addresses, and the company was eventually forced out of business.
“As companies migrated infrastructure from boxes in a rack to the cloud, and exponentially more staff needed access to more resources sitting in more places, this complexity introduced a gap,” Zalman told VentureBeat via email. “[This] big gap in the market is threefold: a solution that works for every stack (whether it’s Oracle or Kafka), one that inherently secures the access and lives up to compliance standards, and third, a solution that end users actually want to use. Lose any one of those and you’re back to the old school chaos and sub-par controls.”
StrongDM standardizes access for teams to backend infrastructure, regardless of what protocol it uses or where it’s located. Using it, companies can deploy secure access controls and automatically capture and log granular details of what happened in sessions, centralizing audit evidence.
Strong DM enables developers to treat access “as code,” according to Zalman — just like infrastructure. By deploying and scaling the platform’s infrastructure access controls across hybrid, physical, and multicloud environments, they can ensure that access is locked down from instance spin-up to tear-down.
“Infrastructure started as simplistic: flat networks, monolithic databases, few privileged admins. It was easy to grant and revoke access because only a few folks needed access to Oracle, and they used Active Directory and the corporate network to broker it,” Zalman said. “As a result, our primary competition are the point products, custom workflows, and manual scripts teams have built to access the different systems they need.”
Although StrongDM doesn’t have an internal machine learning pipeline, Zalman says that the company maintains a dataset designed to be useful in model training — specifically models that identify behavioral anomalies. StrongDM emulates different types of infrastructure so that it can “see” requests and sessions to a database or server cluster, in addition to identify the changes made, the sequence they were made in, and the rate of those changes. The inputs are used to characterize normal behavior profile against which anomalies can be detected and reported.
“The pandemic catalyzed remote work and it’s here to stay. It is no longer a concept for CTOs to consider — it is an executive mandate,” Zalman said. “StrongDM’s business accelerated with the pandemic, with every prospect clamoring for a thorough zero trust and zero trust network access solution.”
StrongDM counts Peloton, SoFi, Chime, Yext, Squarespace, and Olive AI among its customers. The company has raised $77 million to date, and it plans to increase the size of its workforce from 75 employees to 90 by the end of the year.
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