The Multi-Cloud Networking space is ramping up. With customer demand skyrocketing, new players are coming to market with various approaches to solving the problem. The most recent entrant into the Multi-Cloud Networking Software (MCNs) market is CloudFlare, which identified how porting hardware functions to virtual machines deployed in the Cloud is outdated. CloudFlare takes the approach of orchestrating Cloud Native constructs to meet outcomes. Alkira takes neither of these approaches, contrary to the reference in this Silverlinings article. What approach does Alkira take, and how does it differ from CloudFlare and other competitors?

Adding a Third Approach

The article discussed two main strategies for multi-cloud networking: a Virtual Machine-based method and orchestrating cloud-native constructs. However, it overlooked a third vital approach: the as-a-service model, a model leveraged by Alkira for its offering. I will delve deeper into each of the approaches and provide my take on it before exploring the merits of the as-a-service approach.

Virtual Machine-Based Approach

The Virtual Machine-based solution is not new. It has been there for some time now. For example, spinning of virtual appliances like Cisco CSR in the cloud for inter and intra cloud connectivity. This used to be a Cli based router deployed in the cloud while configured like an on-prem router. What’s evolved recently is the integration of orchestration layers, enhancing gateway management and offering advanced troubleshooting and monitoring functionalities.

Cloud-Native + Orchestration

The second method involves employing cloud-native constructs alongside an orchestration layer to streamline deployment across various cloud environments. This approach attempts to layer additional management tools over existing services. While I advocate for the use of cloud-native constructs where appropriate, this solution isn’t without its limitations, particularly due to lack of networking features, limitations and inconsistencies across different cloud providers. For example AWS TGW and Azure vWAN were developed for the same use case but significantly different in terms of features, limitations and configurations.

How does Alkira solve the Problem?

For me, the choice of technology and methodology is secondary to understanding the client’s needs and challenges. The goal is to identify the most effective solution to address these issues. In our case, the customer challenges were clear: the complexity of cloud networking was becoming a bottleneck, hindered by a lack of necessary networking features and inconsistencies across cloud providers.

To overcome these obstacles, we envisioned a solution that simplifies complexity, offers a rich set of networking features, and ensures standardized connectivity across cloud services. The as-a-service model emerged as the ideal solution, aligning with the way cloud providers offer compute, storage, and other PaaS services. This model allows us to build a networking platform which uses a combination of our custom data plane stack and along with cloud native constructs enabling enterprises build cloud networks with agility. It also allows them to standardized connectivity across all cloud service providers.

Choosing the as-a-service model was definitely a big bet initially, as there were no existing networking solutions or platforms provided in this manner. However, it has notably gained popularity over time, with both cloud service providers and traditional networking giants now recognizing the value of as-a-service solutions and introducing their own versions of it. However, I feel Alkira stands out as a pioneer in this space and offers one of the most comprehensive solutions in this space.