The company, founded by the brothers behind Viptela, will look almost exclusively to the channel.
Every now and again someone comes along and shakes up the status quo. Startup Alkira is doing just that for multicloud networking. And the company will rely almost entirely on channel partners to sell and manage its technology.
The names and faces behind Alkira will not come as a surprise to many in the indirect channel. Founders (and brothers) Amir Khan and Atif Khan are renowned for their work at Juniper Networks and for launching SD-WAN vendor Viptela, which Cisco acquired in 2017. At Alkira, Amir leads as president and CEO, and Atif serves as CTO.
Together, the Khan brothers have developed Cloud Services Exchange, or CSX. The platform lets enterprises – or, perhaps ideally, their managed service providers – administer multiple public clouds around the world without having to log in to each vendor’s interface. In essence, a user points, clicks and deploys a multicloud network in less than an hour, according to Alkira. For example, need to connect AWS to Google Cloud? Done with the click of a button.
Other capabilities include security, traffic segregation, load balancing, automated scaling and more. To enable its reach, Alkira works with PoPs throughout the world.
To date, multicloud networking technology has required a piecemeal approach, Amir Khan said in an interview with Channel Futures. IT teams and channel partners have had to stitch together virtual routers or firewall instances, he said. The entire infrastructure ends up patchy and labor-intensive.
“We need to take a fresh look at automation and innovation so we can allow things like elastic scale of services from all aspects, whether connectivity or firewalls,” Khan said.
That’s what Alkira has done with CSX.
“We have built a very intelligent infrastructure which adapts to the requirements of the customers,” Khan said. “That’s where the industry is lagging.”
Alkira’s executive team is not alone in seeing CSX’s unique proposition. Three venture capital firms – Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital and GV – so far have funded Alkira to the tune of $30 million. With that money in hand, Alkira has, as it announced on April 15, “emerged from stealth mode.”
To reiterate, Alkira will look to channel partners as its main sales outlet. Khan said MSPs, boutique firms, SIs, consultants, traditional VARs, and telecom master and subagents all fit the general profile for the types of partners Alkira seeks. Offering CSX gives partners a comprehensive cloud solution, Khan said.
“Networking has plateaued,” he said. “Partners need to figure out new ways to make money. So one of the attractive major areas to address is cloud.”
Danielle Kramer, head of sales at Alkira, agreed.
“From a partner point of view, so many projects are bogged down by intense systems integration work. That really slows down the speed of delivery and value to customers. So to offer Alkira, lightning-fast, to provide secure connectivity to one or multiple clouds, is a huge breath of fresh air. There is incredible excitement from partners to make projects perform on schedule without a lot of laborious SI work, and a lot of excitement about adding Alkira in to their own managed service.”
While Alkira emerges from stealth mode and continues to design its channel strategy around multicloud networking, it also has an inside sales team. But that team does not compete with partners; rather, the internal and channel experts will sell CSX together “until channel becomes self-sufficient,” Khan said.
The Khan brothers’ track record at Viptela, which also primarily relied on the channel, speaks for itself. As a result, partners across the board will already feel comfortable joining forces with Alkira.
“We understand what it takes to win together rather than trying to win alone,” Khan said. “For us to reach the masses, we have to have a very strong partner ecosystem, and that’s what we are building.”
Many of the partner program details remain …
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