Volterra, the three-year-old startup is one of the most interesting startups we’ve come across lately. Their business model is quite unique and its software stack extensive. The startup doesn’t fit neatly into one particular category or sector, but rather they compete with vendors in multiple industries including the CDN market with its ADN offering.
- Company: Volterra Inc.
- Founded: 2017
- HQ: Santa Clara
- Raised: $50M
- # of Employees: 140+
- Founders: Ankur Singla (CEO) and Harshad Nakil (CTO)
- Product: MCN, KaaS, ADN, and Edge
- Dedicated Network: 21 PoPs with 10+Tbps of capacity
- Target: Mid-market, large enterprise, and telcos
- Customers: 50+ paying customers including SoftBank, Auto Mfg, Global Bank, and others
Before diving deeper into the Volterra software stack and business model, let’s discuss the founder’s background as it is relevant here. Volterra’s founders hit the tech scene and made their mark in 2012 when they started and sold Contrail Systems to Juniper Networks. Contrail was an early pioneer in telco NFV and SDN. Bob Muglia, who was the first CEO of Snowflake ran the Juniper software division before/after the acquisition. Then the Contrail team joined Juniper and the rest is history.
Contrail became the foundation for Juniper’s SDN strategy and it is the most widely deployed networking platform in the Tier 1 telco operator segment according to Ankur Singla (Volterra CEO). Prior to Contrail, the founders worked as executives for Aruba Networks. The key takeaway: Volterra’s founding team has a deep technical understanding of SDN, global networking architecture, and the service provider model.
Volterra competes in several industries including Muticloud Networking (MCN), Kubernetes (KaaS), Cloud Security, CDN (with its ADN product), and the Edge. Multicloud Networking is a new industry category that is moving from a niche market to a mainstream product as Volterra, Alkira, Aviatrix, and others transform the networking industry in a dramatic fashion. In short, these vendors simplify the process of connecting to multiple networks by abstracting away all the network complexities. All the user needs to do is connect to one platform like Voltera, and in doing so, they can connect to any of the major cloud networks like AWS, GCP, Azure, Oracle, and IBM via drag and drop. It’s that easy.
MCNs have created a software-based routing stack and API gateway that allows the vendor to connect to any cloud network with ease. The obvious benefit that MCNs provide companies, there’s only one network to manage not many. The one main difference between Volterra and other MCNs, Volterra has built its own global private network.
Kaas: Kubernetes as-a-Service
Volterra also provides a KaaS platform similar to Rancher, Platform9, AWS EKS, and others. Initially, the startup tested several Kubernetes platforms, however, they all fell short lacking specific capabilities in the areas of multitenancy, observability, lifecycle management, scaling K8 clusters, and so on. At the end of the trial, it was decided that they needed to develop a control plane from scratch that sits on top of Kubernetes to meet their needs and that of clients. Today, the Voltera software stack is feature-rich and customers can deploy and manage workloads across all clouds with ease using the Volterra console.
Application Delivery Network
Volterra’s Application Delivery Network (ADN) delivers websites and web applications anywhere in the world. However, instead of caching static content close to end-users, customers can deploy their websites or containerized applications inside pods, then distribute those pods to various locations globally. For example, www.volterra.io was built in JAMstack and it sits in 17 pods globally. When a user visits the website, they’re actually being directed to a pod that is close to them. In terms of site performance, the website loads as fast as it would using a CDN.
Although ADN solutions have been around for a long time, today’s cloud-based ADNs are more sophisticated because they must support Kubernetes, containerized applications, microservices, and service meshes. Other vendors that could be classified as cloud-based ADNs are Section.io, Netlify, and Gatsby. The only difference, Volterra owns a global private network.
Cloud Security Stack
The Volterra cloud security stack resembles that of a CDN. They offer DDoS protection, WAF, API security, and network protection. Not only does this suite of services compete with CDNs, but also legacy security appliances.
Edge with CPE
Lastly, Volterra has developed an edge solution that is comprised of CPE and its software stack (compute + storage + networking). The target market for its edge products are manufacturers, companies with remote branches, industrial facilities that have assets deployed in multiple locations, telcos, and so on. In the telco industry, Volterra is working with carriers like Softbank in the areas of 5G, LTE networks, SD-WAN, edge computing, and more.
In summary, Volterra has developed an extensive software stack in three years, an impressive feat. Perhaps, Volterra represents the business model of the future, where startups will develop feature-rich software stacks right out of the gate to compete with vendors in multiple industries.
- Application Delivery Network
- Kubernetes as-a-Service
- Cloud Network
- Security: DDoS mitigation, WAF, API security,
- API Gateway
- Secure Access
- Load Balancing
- CPE for Edge Deployments