Okta unlocks access to the corporate cloud

Okta, a startup that makes identity and access management software for enterprises, has closed $16.5 million in new funding, which it may need since VMware (s vmw) earlier this year announced it, too, would get in on this space. San Francisco-based Okta says it will put the money toward “an aggressive growth strategy” in the months ahead.

Single sign-on (SSO) solutions like Okta’s have become increasingly attractive to the enterprise as businesses continue to put more data in the cloud and have employees accessing them from multiple devices. Instead of running programs on a single “work” machine, many employees nowadays bring tablets, phones, laptops and other devices into the workplace, or perform work while they are on the go.

Okta’s software enables multiple people within an enterprise to sign in to the company’s web-based applications, whether they’re in the cloud or behind a firewall, while employers control employee access to programs through an app market-style interface. In May 2011, VMWare entered the space with a product called Horizon, which is billed as a  “user-centric management service for accessing cloud applications.”

Okta launched publicly in January 2011, and its customers currently range from Internet radio company Pandora (s P) to oil pipeline giant T.D. Williamson. The new funding round brings Okta’s total venture capital investment to approximately $27 million. The company’s investors now include Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Floodgate.