Microsoft adds Alkira to its ‘hand-picked’ startups to aid Azure

Microsoft has created a relationship with Alkira, a startup that helps enterprises to create an IP backbone super fast – like in one hour. Alkira's Cloud Services Exchange (CSX) securely connects branches, data centers, remote users and clouds.

Microsoft has included Alkira in its Microsoft for Startups program, which hand-picks emerging businesses for the benefits they offer to Microsoft Azure customers. Microsoft provides the select start-ups with support, including access to technical, sales and marketing resources.

Alkira also announced that its CSX is now available on the Azure Marketplace. For Microsoft, Alkira’s technology can help its customers more quickly deploy Windows workloads in the Azure cloud.

According to Futuriom analyst Scott Raynovich, Alkira's goal is to enable any enterprise or service provider to instantly provision a secure, global network using software — without any need to know anything about the underlying infrastructure. 

RELATED: Industry Voices—Raynovich: Alkira builds the path to IP backbone as-a-service

With Alkira’s CSX customers can expand backbone network capacity as needed, on-demand.

The concept sounds somewhat similar to Syntropy, another Silicon Valley startup that is building a programmable overlay on top of the public internet.

RELATED: Former Verizon exec Shawn Hakl touts internet overlay company Syntropy

However, Syntropy builds a software-only overlay on top of the public internet, while Alkira has built out a global network of points of presence (PoPs) with its own hardware and routing technologies.

But both Syntropy and Alkira are taking the concept of SD-WAN and expanding it to global networks.

Alkira’s progress

Alkira was founded by the same well-known Khan brothers who created the SD-WAN pioneer Viptela. Alkira’s CEO is Amir Khan, and its CTO is Atif Khan. They sold Viptela to Cisco in 2017 for $610 million.

Alkira already has a big-name customer: Koch Business Solutions (a subsidiary of Koch Industries). Koch Industries is the largest private company in the U.S., with annual revenues of $115 billion, according to Forbes.

Koch Business Solutions was in the process of connecting Koch’s on-premise data centers to the AWS public cloud and starting to slowly migrate some workloads to AWS. But to complete its journey to the public cloud, Koch turned to Alkira. 

Alkira says that with its technology enterprises can build their own global cloud network from scratch within about an hour, rather than months of complex procurement and provisioning with multiple cloud providers.

“Alkira enables us to draw our entire end-to-end network on a digital design canvas, and provision it in one click, so it’s ready for use,” said Koch Business Solutions CTO Matt Hoag, in a statement. “With Alkira CSX there is no hardware to procure, no software to download and no cloud to learn.”

Koch can now serve about 125,000 of its employees doing business in more than 70 countries. With Alkira, it takes advantage of seven global networks.

Alkira said that for decades, compute and storage have moved to the cloud, but networking was always the last mile. With Alkira’s approach, enterprises can make the leap to public cloud without having to spend millions or months building out an infrastructure.
Alkira has raised $76 million from Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Koch Disruptive Technologies and GV Capital (formerly Google Ventures).