Aryaka hires ex-Google Cloud, Cisco exec to hit $1B in ARR

  • Shailesh Shukla is Aryaka's new CEO

  • His previous experience spans roles at Google Cloud, Cisco and Juniper

  • He has a plan to grow Aryaka's business from $100 million in ARR today to $1 billion

Former Google Cloud and Cisco executive Shailesh Shukla is quiet when you first hop on the phone with him. But a fiery passion sneaks out as soon as you get him talking about networking and security, and you can see why SASE vendor Aryaka tapped him to be its new CEO.

Shailesh Shukla
The real Shailesh Shukla (Aryaka)

Shukla replaces Darin McAreavey, who has served as interim CEO since ex-chief Matt Carter left Aryaka to lead Intrado in October. Shukla himself has been at Aryaka since September, albeit as a Board Member rather than in a full-time capacity. He most recently spent three-and-a-half years at Google Cloud as its VP and GM of its Networking, Security and Telecom business unit, but his other experience spans roles at Cisco, Juniper, Neustar and startup Instart.

Shukla told Silverlinings Aryaka has already achieved a milestone most startups never reach: reaping over $100 million in annual recurring revenue. Now, he said, he’s on a quest to grow that figure to $1 billion “as fast as we can.” And though it’s jostling for logos with the likes of Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto, Zscaler, Cato Networks, VMware and others, he doesn’t necessarily think Aryaka needs to eat anyone else’s lunch to do it.

“I am actually not worried about trying to take share from others because the market, the buy is growing and there’s room for many different approaches,” he said. “We think that we have a really unique approach that allows us to go from $100 million today to $1 billion in ARR. There’s nothing stopping us.”

Indeed, according to Dell’Oro Group’s most recent forecast, the secure access service edge (SASE) market is expected to grow at roughly a 12% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $16 billion by 2028. Gartner’s forecast was even more optimistic, with the firm predicting a 29% CAGR for the market and revenue of $25 billion by 2027.

Dell’Oro Senior Director Mauricio Sanchez put it bluntly in a statement: “SASE is not a trend; it’s the future of enterprise connectivity and security.”

Selling SASE

Within the SASE market, there are three primary types of solutions vendors are peddling. These include multi-vendor, single-vendor and unified SASE products. Aryaka sits in that last category, with a security offering built on top of a private network comprised of  points of presence in over 100 countries it has built over the years.

Dell’Oro noted that single-vendor SASE is gaining steam as enterprises increasingly gravitate toward “streamlined, one-stop solutions.” But Shukla argued such products don’t offer enterprises the flexibility they need.

Aryaka is looking to differentiate itself with a unified approach that is something between multi-vendor and single-vendor, providing customers flexibility to integrate different products and choose how involved they want to be in managing their assets.

He added Aryaka’s private network backbone is also something special because it both allows Aryaka to skirt threats that live on public internet infrastructure and avoid fees and performance issues.  

“What the hyperscalers have done is they have built a series of different points of presence or cloud regions that are interconnected using their own backbone, which is essentially the same thing that we have done. We are a cloud-first company with our own points of presence,” he explained.

“We are not just deploying it on a public cloud because the more that you do that you have to deal with everything from egress charges – which as you know are enormous in cloud providers – and it means that there’s latency because you have to get the traffic back into somebody else’s PoP.”

What’s next?

Aryaka struck a deal with airline Cathay Pacific that shows the company is starting to get interest from major enterprises. Shukla said growing Aryaka’s list of clients is on the to-do list. But to help propel it from $100 million to $1 billion even faster, he said it’s planning to bring some serious innovation to market. And yes, it involves artificial intelligence (AI).

For example, Shukla said Aryaka is looking at using generative AI and deep analytics on its underlying network to detect anomalies and identify new threat vectors. It is also looking at ways to use its security portfolio to secure generative AI workloads.

“You will see a series of announcements from us throughout the rest of this year around our security portfolio, which will be infused with a lot of analytics and AI,” he concluded. “So, watch this space.”