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Xage, which today announced a $30 million series B funding round, said that its platform for enabling zero trust identity security in “real world” operational infrastructure saw a 5x increase in new customer deployments in 2021. With the latest funding in hand, Xage plans to scale up the use of its platform both within existing customers and with additional new customers in 2022, CEO Duncan Greatwood told VentureBeat.

Major attacks that’ve been felt well beyond digital environments — such as those against fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline and meat processing firm JBS Foods — have raised awareness about the need for more than just visibility and threat detection in real-world operations, Greatwood said. He indicated that the need to bring a zero trust approach to securing identities and blocking attacks has become paramount, and led to a surge of interest in Xage’s platform, which provides such capabilities. Xage ultimately offers real-world operations a “much more intense level of control than has existed previously,” Greatwood said in an interview.

“This rise in attacks last year alerted people to the fact that they need this strong protection, of zero trust, across a greater number of these operations,” he said.

Zero trust involves taking a new approach with identity authentication, where users are never inherently trusted, even after they’ve made it onto the network.

Security mesh

Xage’s platform allows every entity using a real-world operational technology system to have its own identity, and enables zero trust policies for determining appropriate access for entities to applications and data. The platform covers most legacy equipment in addition to modern equipment, which is crucial because nearly all real-world operations have a mixture of new and old, Greatwood said.

“We are helping to create identity and create authenticity even in older legacy equipment. And that’s a key enabler to allowing zero trust to be used in these real-world environments,” he said.

Another important differentiator is that the platform brings a “mesh” architecture comprised of numerous nodes rather than a single, centralized system. This allows for granular access control — and also means that if any one node of the mesh is hacked successfully, it’s not possible for the attacker to use that compromised node to change policy, or steal passwords, or get access to data, Greatwood said.

“If you create a zero trust environment, but everything is dependent on a single server that holds passwords, what you’ve done is created almost a honeypot for hackers,” he said. “In the Xage method, if they break into a server, your security services will continue to work. They don’t have just a single point to hack.”

Customer traction

Key verticals for Xage include energy (both renewable energy and oil and gas companies), utilities, ecommerce logistics, transportation, and space operations. Customers that have been disclosed by the company include Saudi Aramco, the U.S. Space Force, the U.S. Air Force, and the Water Resources Recovery Facility for the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

With its 5x growth in new customer deployments in 2021, Xage reports it generated revenue growth of 300% year-over-year.

A significant portion of the company’s business goes through indirect partners, with partners including 1898 & Co., Iron Bow, Stratus, and Agora. Xage’s partner base grew by 500% last year, the company said.

Growth funding

The series B funding round was led by Piva, a venture investor focused on addressing industrial technology challenges. Other investors include Momenta Partners, Valor Equity Partners, OurCrowd, March Capital, City Light Capital, Saints Capital, and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures. Xage has now raised a total of $54 million since its founding in 2016 by vice president of engineering Susanto Irwan and vice president of products Roman Arutyunov.

The company plans to use the new funding to help support its growth in the market and development of new product capabilities. The company aims to “scale up tremendously over the next couple of years,” Greatwood said.

In terms of the product, one major initiative will be to bring its zero trust security beyond just the real-world infrastructure itself, but also to the “converged” environments where real-world operations are connecting with the cloud, he said.

“All those need to work together. And that’s an unsolved problem,” Greatwood said.

Based in Palo Alto, Xage currently employs about 40 people and plans to expand its headcount by 75% to 100% in 2022, he said.

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