Graphiant's new spin on network-as-a-service

Startup Graphiant has emerged from stealth mode with $33.5 million in Series A funding. The funding dates back to December of 2020, and was co-led by Sequoia Capital and Two Bear Capital with participation from Atlantic Bridge.

The company says they're delivering a replacement for MPLS and SD-WAN via the Graphiant Network Edge to provide "connectivity between the enterprise WAN, hybrid cloud, network edge, customers and partners all delivered as-a-service."

At the helm of Graphiant are CEO Khalid Raza and CTO Stefan Olofsson. Raza was previously co-founder of SD-WAN supplier Viptela, which was later acquired by Cisco in 2017 for $610 million. Several members of the Viptela team, including Raza, had a stint at Cisco and are now reuniting to launch Graphiant.

Raza says Graphiant's goal is to address the "rise of an unpredictable topology" in the network that must manage desperate connectivity demands from teleworkers, branch offices, cloud services, software services and more.

In addition, he wants to combine the best parts of MPLS and SD-WAN to deliver connectivity over a private network and as-a-service.

"The argument we're making is what the network needs is the scalability, reliability and security of MPLS with the agility and cost of SD-WAN," said Raza.

Gartner's Andrew Lerner told Light Reading over email that Graphiant is essentially "an SD-WAN vendor that bundles it with a private backbone."

"Unlike traditional SD-WAN where the device sits at the edge and either drops traffic directly out the underlay or puts it into an overlay (and tunnels to a headend device), the Graphiant solution utilizes a private backbone as part of its service," explained Lerner.

This approach is similar to competitors Cato Networks and Aryaka which provide SD-WAN services over their own private networks.

Graphiant's approach can reduce some of the configuration and administrative challenges associated with tunneling, especially in very large deployments, added Lerner.

"They also address another network use-case that has been underserved by vendors, the Extranet use-case, whereby a bunch of external parties need to connect. That use-case is hard to serve and scale with SD-WAN or traditional routers, VPN. We believe there is pent-up customer demand for a vendor that provides Extranet-aaS type network capability," explained Lerner.

However, Graphiant may be facing an uphill battle – most enterprises have already selected an SD-WAN service, so while the first dozen customers should be easily identified, scaling to hundreds or thousands of customers could be difficult, he added.

Graphiant leadership says World Wide Technology is among current customers. Dell has expressed interest in Graphiant's service and Intel could potentially be a future partner.

Matt Krieg, GTM Leader for Graphiant, predicts the company's sweet spot of target customers will be enterprises valued at $1 billion and up in the financial, healthcare, manufacturing and retail spaces.

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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