Fortisphere Gets $10M

Startup prepares to step out of stealth with VM management software

November 20, 2007

4 Min Read
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Secretive stealth-mode startup Fortisphere picked up $10 million in funding today to bankroll its efforts to manage multiple virtual machines.

The Series A round, which was led by Fairhaven Capital Partners and Globespan Capital Partners, will be used to develop the vendor's soon-to-be-launched Virtual Essentials software.

Although the software suite will not be available until the first quarter of next year, Fortisphere's CEO Mike Harper told Byte and Switch that Virtual Essentials will address the challenge of managing multiple VMs.

"There's a significant problem with [VM] reporting," he says, explaining that users often have a tough time finding out whether their VMs are in compliance with regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

There will be two main software components to Virtual Essentials, according to Harper. The first, Virtual Insight, is a "device driver" that lets IT managers track the movements of a virtual machine on which it's installed. The second, Virtual Foresight, actually manages the VM via a virtual appliance that communicates with the device driver."Virtual Foresight is really about applying policy to the VMs. This could involve best practice, security policies, and SLAs," adds Harper.

Although unwilling to reveal specific details about the software, Harper offered an example of how users could deploy Virtual Essentials for security purposes. "We allow you to quarantine the VM, so that it can only access the correct patching and update information before it can go back online," he says.

The software can also ensure that virtualized applications conform to SLAs, according to Harper. "This could be about how a VM applies to networking, storage, and server infrastructure," he says.

With more and more users deploying virtualization, the exec is clearly looking to exploit users' unease about dealing with growing numbers of VMs. Some CIOs and IT managers have already voiced their concern about this issue, citing management challenges and security as their major virtualization headaches.

To further complicate matters, IT managers are confronted with a bewildering array of virtualization products from a slew of different vendors. Last week, for example, Sun unveiled its own hypervisor offering and Oracle launched virtualization software for databases.Fortisphere is not the only vendor playing in this corner of the virtualization market. Another stealth-mode firm, ManageIQ, is also working on a VM management solution, and startup Embotics recently launched its V-Commander software for handling VMs.

Big-name vendors are also getting in on this act. Symantec, for example, will launch its Application Director product sometime early next year, which aims to manage multiple VM environments, including VMware ESX Server, Sun Solaris Zones, and IBM's AIX Micropartitions.

Fortisphere is taking a slightly different approach to Symantec, Harper maintains, and the initial version of Virtual Essentials will support VMs from VMware, Microsoft, and Citrix/Xensource.

"For now, we're focused on the market leaders in x86 technology," says Harper, adding that the startup will also be looking at VM technologies from Sun and IBM.

The exec admits that Fortisphere will have its work cut out making itself heard over the current cacophony of virtualization spiel from other vendors. "It certainly creates challenges for startups like ourselves," he says, adding that the Series A funding will help Fortisphere makes its presence felt.Fortisphere claims some beta customers in financial services, manufacturing, government, and retail. "A number of Fortune 1000 companies have had the product," says Harper. "We're seeing interest across the board."

The CEO was only a little more forthcoming on the subject of Fortisphere's workforce, saying that the startup has "less that 50" employees spread across offices in Maryland, Virginia, and Boston.

Fortisphere was founded just over a year ago by John Suit and Vipul Sharma. Suit, who is now Fortisphere's CTO, was formerly CTO of security vendor SilentRunner, which was acquired by CA for an undisclosed fee in 2003.

One-time Verint and Cognio exec Sharma now serves as Fortisphere's vice-president of engineering.

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  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Cognio Inc.

  • Embotics Corp.

  • Globespan Capital Partners

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW)

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Verint Systems Inc.

  • VMware Inc.

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