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Former Viptela Founding Brothers Launch Cloud Networking Startup Alkira

Startup Alkira, which has raised $30 million in Series A funding to date, has emerged from stealth mode armed with its multi-cloud networking offering, Alkira CSX.

Multi-cloud networking startup Alkira emerged from stealth mode Wednesday, bringing to the market a consumption-based cloud connection offering that can be up and running in minutes, according to the company.

Alkira, based in San Jose, Calif., was founded by CEO Amir Khan and his brother and best friend, Atif Khan, Alkira's CTO. The two brothers and tech luminaries created and co-founded SD-WAN provider Viptela, which was bought by Cisco in 2017 for $610 million.

Alkira is bursting onto the scene with Cloud Services Exchange (CSX), a unified, on-demand offering that lets cloud architects and network engineers build and deploy a multi-cloud network in minutes. Alkira CSX offers cloud networking in an as-a-service format with the flexibility to turn services on and off as the business requires, with no up-front Capex purchase necessary, Amir Khan told CRN.

"In 2018, we were looking for the next big problem to solve," Khan said. "Talking to customers and partners, we noticed quickly that cloud networking was very difficult, even in a single environment. As you brought other clouds into the mix, it became exponentially complex."

[Related: Coronavirus Is ‘The Epitome’ Of A Real-Life SD-WAN Use Case]

That's because every cloud provider has its own way of performing different actions and offers different underlying constructs or limitations. It was time to bring an "extremely simple" management offering to the market that was common across all platforms, as well as secure, Khan said.

Alkira CSX can give enterprises resilient network connectivity from their premises-based environments to the public cloud, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, as well as cloud-to-cloud connectivity. The platform also combines global multi-cloud network services, such as security, load balancing and IP address management on one dashboard. Alkira CSX can simplify billing of multi-cloud network and services for enterprise customers and channel partners, the company said.

The startup will go to market primarily through channel partners, including global systems integrators, solution providers, and master agent and agent partners, said Danielle Kramer, senior sales director for Alkira. Kramer joined Alkira in March and is leading the company's channel efforts. The company's multi-tenant offering caters well to channel partners, Kramer said.

"Everyone is trying to help their customers figure out the best way to handle multi-cloud, and the response has been incredible when they've seen what the Alkira service offers—it makes them look like heroes to their customers," she said.

Alkira CSX, as of Wednesday, is publicly available.

"Alkira is in a particularly unique place, based on their pedigree with Viptela, to execute on the challenges they see in the market and the challenges that aren't being solved,” said Bryan Osoro​, vice president of sales for EOS IT Management Solutions, a Banbridge, U.K.-based global VAR.

Alkira's offering is giving IT one simple and consistent entry point into an increasingly multi-cloud environment, Osoro said. This allows networking teams to work at a faster pace along with the rest of the business. The product is complementary to some of the big IT vendors, such as Arista, Cisco and VMware, he added.

Some competing products on the market tend to "dumb down" their interfaces, which ends up limiting functionality, said Gerard Lithgow, chief revenue officer for EOS.

"The reduced complexity in the approach to managing clouds, but without limiting functionality, is what Alkira is doing very differently than other players in the market," Lithgow said.

The startup is funded by Sequoia Capital—a funding partner of Viptela—as well as Kleiner Perkins and GV, formerly Google Ventures. Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital jointly led Alkira's Series A investment round, with GV investing in a follow-on round of financing totaling $30 million so far, according to the company.

Prior to creating Alkira, which got its start in 2018, and Viptela, in 2012, Amir Khan served as senior director of product management for Juniper Networks. Before that, he was the director of product management for Cisco's Ethernet and Wireless Technology Group.

Viptela co-founder Atif Khan served as Viptela's vice president of technology and solutions. After the company was acquired, Khan joined Cisco as senior director of Cisco's Enterprise Networking business. Prior to creating Viptela, Khan served as director of product management for Huawei and senior manager of product management for Juniper Networks.

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