Although a newcomer lead the round, Meritech Capital Partners, other participants included previous backers Andreesen Horowitz and Intel Capital. Other earlier backers High Capital Partners and Ignition Partners participated as well.
Meritech waited until the second version of vSentry became available in July before jumping in provide more money. Its business is late-stage venture capital, investing in firms that have a good chance of rapidly scaling their businesses. The firm has $2.6 billion under management and claims it focuses on proven technologies and experienced management teams. In the past, it has backed Box, Cloudera, Facebook, Fortinet, Netezza, NetSuite, Riverbed, Salesforce.com, Sourcefire, SpringSource and Yammer. Rob Ward, Meritech managing director, will join the Bromium board, the funding announcement said.
Bromium is a 2010 startup lead by Simon Crosby, former CTO of XenSource, a company behind the Xen open source hypervisor that was acquired by Citrix Systems. Crosby left the CTO's position at Citrix to found Bromium with long-time partner Ian Pratt, the researcher who virtualized the x86 instruction set at Cambridge University shortly after Mendel Rosenblum did so at Stanford.
Crosby said Bromium's vSentry approach consists of isolating each email opening, visit to a website or call to an external database in its own virtual machine. If there is a security risk inherent in the end user process, it's contained by the virtual machine and can't access other resources or otherwise intrude on the system. A virtual machine has defined, logical constraints that malware and other forms of intrusion can't overcome.
[ Want to learn more about how a "microvisor" protects a user's desktop? See Bromium Secures Older PCs, Terminals Via 'Microvisor.' ]
The Bromium microvisor-driven virtual machine captures a snapshot of a malware process and allows system administrators to see what the attempted intrusion process was. The malware ceases to be a threat after the virtual machine process is completed and the VM is deleted, according to Crosby.
The vSentry product is based on the Xen hypervisor. It was written to make use of the virtualization-aware hooks and shortcuts being built into Intel and AMD chips. It has also been enhanced to work with virtualization-unaware systems, such as those running on older PC laptops under Windows XP or terminal server systems. As of the 2.0 version, vSentry supported Windows 7 -- but not Windows 8, Android or iOS. Company officials say support for additional operating systems will be included in future release updates.