Red Hat is buying Kubernetes security vendor StackRox to blend with OpenShift

In Red Hat's first deal since it was bought by IBM for $34 billion three years ago, Red Hat announced it's buying container security startup StackRox. Financial terms of the deal, which is slated to close in the current first quarter after it passes closing conditions, weren't disclosed.

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The deal for StackRox marked yet another chapter in IBM's goal of shifting to a hybrid-cloud strategy by blending StackRox with Red Hat's OpenShift container platform.

"By bringing StackRox’s powerful Kubernetes-native security capabilities to OpenShift, we are reinforcing our commitment to deliver a holistic open hybrid cloud platform," said Red Hat's Ashesh Badani, senior vice president for cloud platforms in a Thursday afternoon blog post. "We want to enable users to build, deploy and more securely run applications across every IT footprint. 

"With its Kubernetes-native architecture, StackRox is a natural fit for Red Hat. StackRox’s complementary capabilities will strengthen the layered approach to container and Kubernetes security we have been driving with our partners through OpenShift."

With StackRox in hand, Red Hat said it would focus on transforming how cloud-native workloads are secured by expanding and refining Kubernetes’ native controls. It will also shift security "left" into the container build and CI/CD phase to provide a solution for enhanced security up and down the entire IT stack as well as throughout the lifecycle.

"The acquisition makes sense given StackRox provides a comprehensive solution suite for securing containers—across the DevOps lifecycle and runtime—and will be complementary to Red Hat's OpenShift product suite," according to AvidThink founder and analyst Roy Chua. "In particular, as OpenShift pushes into multiple public clouds and edge locations, Red Hat will need to have more complete container security solution spanning the CI/CD pipeline.

"It helps counter other offerings in the market like TwistLock as part of Palo Alto Networks, or VMware's Octarine as integrated into Carbon Black, or Aqua Security.

RELATED: VMware to buy Kubernetes security startup Octarine

In May of last year, VMware announced it was buying Kubernetes security vendor Octarine to simplify DevSecOps and enable cloud-native environments to be intrinsically secure from development through runtime. VMware folded Octarine into its Carbon Black portfolio to provide better support for security features in containerized applications running in Kubernetes.

Palo Alto Networks bought TwistLock two years ago for $410 million while Aqua Security, which has remained independent, has raised $130 million to date.

In addition to OpenShift, Red Hat said StackRox would continue to support multiple Kubernetes platforms, including Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), and Google K

Kubernetes, which was developed internally by Google prior to Google putting it into open source in 2014, has emerged as the de facto orchestrator standard for the use of containers.

With the widespread adoption of containers among organizations, Kubernetes, the container-centric management software, has become the de facto standard to deploy and operate containerized applications. Red Hat said it has been contributing to Kubernetes ever since it was put into open source.

Despite the proliferation of containers and Kubernetes, some organizations are still struggling with security. According to a report last year by StackRox, nearly half (44%) of respondents have delayed rolling out applications into production because of security concerns while 90% of the respondents have experienced security incidents. Misconfigurations were cited as the top culprit for security issues related to containers while monitoring applications is also an issue. 

In October, StackRox announced the release of its KubeLinter, which is an open source static analysis tool to identify misconfigurations in Kubernetes deployments

StackRox was founded in 2014 and has raised more than $65 million to date with investors such as HPE, Redpoint, Sequoia Capital and Menlo Ventures, according to Crunchbase. In September, StackRox raised $26.5 million and announced it had achieved more than 240% in revenue growth in the first half of 2020.