Netskope, the unicorn security startup that raised $400M and hired an army of architects from the CDN industry has built a massive global private network (overlay). By the end of 2019, their network (NewEdge) will span 50 PoPs and have a total capacity of 100 Tbps, exceeding the capacity of 95%+ of the CDN vendors out there including Fastly, Limelight, Cloudflare, StackPath, and possibly Akamai. NewEdge is designed to support hundreds of millions of concurrent connections.
In an industry where vendors tend to brag about their number of PoPs and network capacity, Netskope decided on the ‘Go Big or Go Home’ strategy. You can’t help but wonder why Netskope decided on 100 Tbps capacity if it’s for no other reason than to outdo Akamai, who is notorious for bragging about its infrastructure metrics. Netskope is one of the first security companies to build a private overly network, unlike Palo Alto Networks, Zscaler, Crowdstrike, etc. Cato Networks has built an overlay network but they’re focused on the SD WAN market.
In the cloud-native world, security and performance have become intertwined. The only way to create a high-performance security stack is to build an underlying CDN-caliber global network in which the vendor has complete control of the routing infrastructure. The other option is to build the security stack on top of AWS, but in doing the security vendor loses control of the routing infrastructure and performance. For Netskope, having visibility and control of every packet that enters and exits the private network is a differentiator unlike any other.
Are we likely to see more security companies building CDN-caliber overlay networks? No, because they would have to hire architects and engineers from the CDN industry, and that talent is expensive, in short supply, and difficult to come by.
For its PoP infrastructure, Netskope decided on bare-metal hardware which performs services such as firewalling, load balancing, compute, etc. Once all Netskope PoPs are deployed along with the 100 Tbps of capacity, it will be the largest security overlay network in the world.