Alkira Raises $100M Series C Round With Plans To Boost Channel Motion

On-demand network infrastructure vendor Alkira has closed a $100 million Series C round of funding, with executives reiterating the company’s 100 percent channel go-to-market strategy as it sees customer demand grow amid uncertainty with legacy vendors and to take advantage of growing artificial intelligence interest.

“Every deal that we transact is through a channel partner,” Kevin Kramer, vice president of global sales at San Jose, Calif.-based Alkira, told CRN in an interview. “We believe that we’ll see, this year, about 200 to 300 percent growth in terms of channel-end attribution to our overall revenues. And we think that that will only increase.”

Atif Khan, Alkira chief technology officer – who co-founded the vendor in 2018 with his brother, Alkira CEO Amir Khan – told CRN in an interview that the new funding will go toward growing the marketing, sales, engineering, operations and other teams to meet expanding demand overseas, especially in Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

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Alkira Funding Round

“We are at a spot where we can capture the market even faster than we have in the last two years,” said Khan, who previously created and co-founded SD-WAN provider Viptelawith his brother. Cisco bought Viptela in 2017 for $610 million.

To date, Alkira has raised $176 million. Investment firm Tiger Global Management led the round. Dallas Venture Capital, Geodesic Capital and NextEquity Partners provided additional investment and existing investors – including Kleiner Perkins, Koch Disruptive Technologies and Sequoia Capital – participated.ADVERTISEMENT

Alkira Services partners include EOS IT Solutions, Ahead, ePlus, e360, ConvergeOne, Insight and iVision, according to the vendor. Its cloud partners include Amazon Web Services (AWS) Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle. Technology partners include Aruba, Check Point, Cisco, Splunk and Palo Alto Networks.

The vendor has been 100 percent channel for about two years, Kramer (pictured) told CRN.

“It is the No. 1 focus for us in terms of our go-to-market strategy for us to grow the channel – not only in the U.S., but as international has picked up,” he said. “We’re going to put more channel resources in Europe. We have potential to expand into APAC, the Middle East. It’s this trailing effect of, as we look to grow their business, just holistically with this money from our own staff and our own product development. We’re going to look to pull the channel in with us and do all those things.”

Alkira does not have plans at this point to partner with IT distributors, working directly with services partners, he said.

And an important note for partners, he said, is that customers who adopt Alkira tend to double or triple spending within the first year, quadrupling and even quintupling spending in the second year, due to customers cutting out spend on other tools. “We can solve so many problems from a single platform,” he said.

Some trends fueling customer demand are frustration with legacy networking and networking vendors, the executives told CRN. Alkira’s as-a-service model means skipping the hardware and manual tasks of building networking infrastructure. And large mergers in the space, including Cisco’s recent close on the purchase of Splunk and the pending acquisition of Juniper Networks by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has customers looking at other networking and multi-cloud vendors.

“We’re focused on networking and we think that potentially they’re losing sight of the ball,” he said. “We are getting seats at the table of some really large organizations that are saying, ‘Hey, we don’t know what’s in store with us at Cisco.’ … So let’s look at some other ways or other companies that have the main focus and a really clear decision on what they’re trying to solve. So I think there’s openings for us in the networking space.”

Legacy networking makes it difficult for customers to keep up with business demand, Kramer said.

“We’re offering network infrastructure on demand so that customers can basically react to whatever is thrown at them from a business perspective and offer that network connectivity, that cloud connectivity, that security immediately,” he said. “The time to value for you to be able to deliver that is extremely decreased from months to days or hours in our case.”

CRN has reached out to Cisco and HPE for comment.

Customer interest in AI “is a big part of our story going forward,” he said. Alkira positions itself as able to adapt to AI pressures on networks faster than hardware-based and legacy vendors.

Khan said that in the past two years Alkira has doubled every year for the past two years in revenue and new customers as organizations seek vendors who can help with complex multi-cloud networking demands.

Alkira also has an Extranet as-a-Service offering that is growing especially among financial organizations who have thousands of partners connecting to a network. Alkira customers can add partners in minutes instead of months since they don’t have to use hardware and spend time on ensuring segmentation, he said.

“Where customers don’t have to deploy hardware, they won’t deploy hardware,” he said. “If they can consume something as a service, they will opt for as-a-service.”

The vendor will continue to enhance its product in areas including zero trust network access (ZTNA) and monitoring capabilities, Khan said.

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