The Road To Alkira
After creating the SD-WAN market with the founding of Viptela, and subsequently selling the company to Cisco in 2017, it was time to look for another significant market to transform. We had learned several lessons with Viptela about successfully creating and scaling a startup, including things to do and things not to do.
When we started thinking holistically about our next play, we entered the search with a set of guideposts on how to come out of the gate with a game-changing offering, and a built to scale company. These success factors include:
Smart money: The best investors are partners, advisors, and coaches, and ideally they are familiar faces from previous ventures. With a solid track record and an innovative offering, money itself is relatively easy to come by. Great investors are not. We are pleased to have top tier venture capital firms Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, and GV (formerly Google Ventures) as our investors. Thanks to these relationships and the industry significance of our offering, we were able to fully fund Series A in a few weeks, which is very fast, even by Silicon Valley standards.
Great team: Startups require a unique skill profile. Technical, driven, rabidly focused on customer success, and capable of doing a broad set of things, including strategic work as well as getting their hands dirty when needed. The Alkira team is very senior and has been through a startup’s early days as well as the later growth phases. It’s a real pleasure to look at the team and see the unmatched depth of talent and experience we’ve assembled (and a lot of familiar faces from previous companies).
Customer success: Solving the tech is just one piece. The spine of the company has to be built on customer success, taking the time to internalize their problems and needs, and always standing behind them. I couldn’t be more proud of the dedication of the Alkira team in working with our initial customers, with a white glove, 24/7, “whatever it takes” success approach.
A clean sheet of paper: A majority of established companies have their hands tied due to supporting existing projects. At best, they incrementally innovate on top of their existing solutions. Catching industry transitions requires a ground-up comprehensive approach to solving major customer problems, while others continue to force-fit existing solutions. The Alkira Cloud Services Exchange™ (CSX), with an array of newly patented technologies and industry firsts, delivers a purpose-built multi-cloud network and services solution envisioned to transform the cloud networking market.
Significant customer problem: The key is to focus on a problem that occupies the minds of both executives and technical teams due to its impact on overall enterprise business performance. And significant problems come with real budgets. Today, that big, unsolved problem is cloud networking, as we’ll explore further.
What We Are Solving
Enterprises are going through the most substantial transformation in the history of communications infrastructure and are building a growing majority of their new initiatives in the cloud. Cloud adoption is a significant part of digital transformation. It is becoming rare for us to meet enterprises that don’t have the intention of going multi-cloud. According to top analysts, more than 80% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy. Multi-cloud adoption promises many benefits, including:
But the reality is very different. Unlike storage and compute that have comprehensively evolved for the cloud, the network has not. The unfortunate truth is that today’s cloud networking solutions are so complex they are more of a business inhibitor than an enabler. This complexity becomes exponentially worse as customers move from one cloud to multiple clouds.
Customers keep tripping over a plethora of networking barriers on their business-critical journey to cloud and multi-cloud:
- Expensive and deep expertise required in every cloud
- Native cloud limits, which vary by cloud
- No autoscaling of network services in multi-cloud
- Lack of budget for new initiatives – all consumed by ongoing operations due to cloud network complexity
- High initial costs
- An endless sprawl of automation and orchestration tools
- Slow responses to change requests
The result is that enterprises are struggling to meet the time-to-service needs essential for their business success.
It is time to reinvent the network for the cloud.
The Alkira Cloud Services Exchange (or CSX) is the first unified multi-cloud network delivered as-a-service. The Alkira CSX is designed and built from the ground up to provide customers with global multi-cloud connectivity, on-demand network and security services, and end-to-end network visibility and governance.
The Alkira CSX is built in the cloud and behaves like the cloud, delivering agility and speed, on-demand functionality, as-as-service consumption, and elastic scale up and scale down, all of which are synonymous with the cloud itself.
You can achieve speed and agility by eliminating the need to learn and understand cloud-specific capabilities or work around their limitations, cutting the multi-cloud network provisioning process down to a single click of a mouse.
This on-demand capability ensures that Alkira customers achieve global multi-cloud networking when, where, and as long as needed, much like the cloud itself. These on-demand capabilities can be scaled up and down based on either administratively requested capacity or dynamic real-time demands.
Our unique as-a-service offering allows customers to simply draw their multi-cloud network and network services on an intuitive design canvas, leveraging their existing hardware investment and even reducing future spending. That is in stark contrast to current approaches of designing and deploying costly solutions based on colocations, and private cloud interconnects with their associated upfront hardware investments or leveraging a sprawl of orchestration tools to automate configuration workflows.
The Alkira service fully aligns with the cloud consumption methodology. Customers can choose between pay-as-you-go (PAYG) and subscription models. Our pay-as-you-go model offers the greatest deployment flexibility of paying for only the provisioned elements, like sites, cloud instances, and network services, as well as network traffic consumed. Our subscription model offers the utmost cost-effectiveness based on committed target spend for the service, irrespective of the provisioned elements.
Networking for the cloud will never be the same. The Alkira CSX is the first network that is built for the cloud, lives in the cloud, and behaves like the cloud. Provisioning a full multi-cloud network in minutes instead of months is the new industry reality.
Welcome To Alkira
When thinking about how to name the company, we wanted to convey a sense of possibility—an awareness of a fresh start, with real “blue sky” levels of innovation.
And so we named the company Alkira, which is Australian Aboriginal for “blue sky,” and according to some sources, “a happy place in the sun”. We think it’s the perfect fit for our new company, as today we sail out into the world, excited and energized, and under a blue sky.
With the dramatic increase in remote workers and further acceleration of cloud based networking spurred by the Covid crisis this solution meets the needs of the time. And this team has the DNA to deliver. Having worked with the team at Viptela, known many of the Alkira leaders for decades and actively tracking this space I’m confident Alkira will be a transformational solution leading the next step in networking beyond SD-WAN. I’m excited for the industry and customers. Congratulations!