Last year, Venafi launched its Machine Identity Protection Fund in order to help develop the machine identity protection ecosystem, in particular the development of third-party integrations with the Venafi platform.
The growth in the number of machines — which in this context can be implemented in hardware or software — makes it increasingly important to have a mechanism for the secure, policy-based allocation of identities to machines. Furthermore, security teams need to be confident that the mechanism is working, Venafi vice-president of security Kevin Bocek told iTWire.
So the company has allocated US$12.5 million to its Machine Identity Protection Fund, and is also facilitating connections between participants and Venafi customers around the world.
Two of the four companies selected are London-based: a Kubernetes developer and a Kafka developer. The third is a US developer specialising in IBM mainframes. The fourth was selected in January and the only information that has been revealed so far is that it works in the ServiceNow space.
All four are either start-ups or specialist consultancies: "they're generally the organisations that are moving faster," said Bocek.
"We've got a pipeline" of applicants working in fields including IoT, API protection, and post-quantum computing, he added.
Other areas where Venafi has identified gaps include cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotic process automation, DevOps tooling, and new methods of identifying machines.
Some large systems integrators and consultancies may become involved with the fund, but for access to the ecosystem of developers and customers rather than a need for funding.
The fund has a global outlook, with three of the first four participants based outside the US, and Venafi is talking to potential developer participants in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. "I'd love to see some Australian or New Zealand developers participating in the fund," said Bocek.
Venafi expects to select another one or two participants by the end of this month (February 2019).
Since the fund is about putting ideas to work, most funded projects will have durations of between one and three months. The first round is already bearing fruit, with results including code released on GitHib, Bocek told iTWire.
The results of the projects remain the property of the developers, he stressed. The money is provided in the form of grants rather than investments.
Venafi expects the fund to run for at least three years. If the $12.5 million is exhausted sooner than that, decisions will be made based on the outcomes achieved.
"We want to lean towards more developers rather than fewer," said Bocek.