Startup Volterra Takes On VMware, Red Hat With Its Multi-Cloud Pitch

Volterra has $50 million funding in its pocket and a platform designed to enable operators and enterprises to deploy applications and network services across multi-cloud environments.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

November 4, 2019

3 Min Read
Startup Volterra Takes On VMware, Red Hat With Its Multi-Cloud Pitch

Startup Volterra has raised $50 million to fund its bold ambition to provide communications service providers and enterprises with a platform to run workloads seamlessly on any combination of public and private clouds, a market currently dominated by VMware and IBM-owned Red Hat.

Volterra has emerged from two years of 'stealth' operations with more than $50 million of funding in the bank, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for deploying applications across multi-cloud environments, more than 100 engineers and, it says, 30 customers. Volterra's investors include: Khosla Ventures; Mayfield; Microsoft's venture arm, M12; Itochu Technology Ventures; and Samsung NEXT.

In addition, Volterra also has pedigree. Its founder and CEO, Ankur Singla, previously founded and ran Contrail Systems, the SDN controller (SDN) specialist acquired by Juniper in 2012: He remained at Juniper through 2018. Previous to Contrail, Singla was chief technology officer and VP engineering at wireless networking vendor Aruba, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard several years after he left.

With all that under its belt, Volterra has a solid foundation upon which to build a business.

Telcos and other service providers are among Volterra's target markets; service providers need distributed cloud platforms to virtualize their networks for 5G, including building out the edge computing assets they will need – including network services deployed inside the enterprise as private networks – and virtualizing parts of the radio access network, Singla tells Light Reading.

Softbank is in the early design and development phase with Volterra, after building a proof-of-concept for deploying Volterra for 5G network transformation. Softbank is looking to Volterra to help to take better advantage of spectrum, deploy smart CPE and SD-WAN services, and integrate private LTE networks, Volterra said.

Volterra is seeking to fill a need for telcos and enterprises for a single cloud platform that's uniform across multiple public clouds and their private cloud as well, Singla said.

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That's all very well, but it's chasing business that is currently dominated by a couple of big hitters in the form of VMware and Red Hat. VMware runs its vSphere virtualization software on private clouds, AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, with an ambitious plan for a portfolio of Kubernetes services. VMware also plans to acquire Pivotal Software to enhance its own Kubernetes capabilities, for $2.7 billion. Pivotal and VMware are already related; Dell Technologies owns a controlling interest in both companies.

Red Hat, which was acquired by IBM in a $34 billion deal this year, supports multicloud with its OpenShift Kubernetes platform, which runs on private clouds, bare metal, OpenStack< VMware, AWS, Azure and Google.

So what's Volterra's pitch? Singla isn't shy in boasting his company offers superior security, scalability and orchestration to its rivals, but such claims do not come with any independent verification.

He adds that Volterra provides a consistent environment that can be deployed across multiple public clouds and edge sites, providing services that are normally siloed across multiple products and cloud providers. It has three specific services: VoltStack deploys and manages distributed applications across multiple clouds and edge sites using industry standard Kubernetes APIs; VoltMesh provides high performance networking and zero-trust security between multiple clouds and edge sites; and Volterra Console provides a management console for deploying and operating distributed applications at global scale with centralized control and observability.

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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