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Alkira introduces extranet as a service

Provider of cloud networking as a service unveils infrastructure designed to enable third parties to securely connect to critical business applications 

Looking to allow customers to instantly connect a variety of enterprise-class B2B applications and resources, establishing any mode of on-premise and cloud connectivity, agentless, multi-cloud networking service provider Alkira has launched an extranet-as-a-service (EaaS) offering.

Alkira EaaS uses Akira’s global hyperscale cloud networking infrastructure so that enterprises can connect their customers, partners and third parties “seamlessly and safely”, the company said, across highly distributed IT environments and multi-cloud networks. Indeed, the provider claimed “it only takes a few mouse clicks” to roll out advanced B2B cloud networking capabilities, such as inserting firewall services, Day 2 troubleshooting, and sharing resources with unidirectional and bidirectional traffic patterns.

The genesis of the launch is the notion that building extranets is a cumbersome, manual process. Moreover, Alkira suggested modern, highly distributed IT environments are unwieldy and difficult for even Fortune 500 companies to manage. The hardest part is connecting these sprawling environments – which include hybrid and multi-cloud deployments – into a cohesive unit.

Alkira added that organisations currently typically connect these disparate IT environments and cloud networks using their own extranet, which they manually construct and maintain, and that to do this they either use traditional networking infrastructure – such as MPLS circuits, routers, firewalls and other hardware – or cloud-native networking tools such as those provided by AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

Yet worryingly, Alkira noted, this process is essentially do-it-yourself, and rife with risks, potential security gaps, and a lack of end-to-end visibility. Change is also difficult to accommodate, requiring the rearchitecting of networks and long provisioning times to react to changing business conditions or access needs. The end result, said Alkira, is costly, time-consuming, slow and risky. Indeed, it quoted the 2023 state of the cloud report from US software firm Flexera, showing that 80% of respondents were concerned about their ability to manage access and security across multi-cloud environments, up from 72% the year before.

As a response to these challenges, Alkira EaaS is designed to eliminate this manual work with a solution offered fully as a service, requiring no hardware, software or agents to be installed. With Alkira EaaS, customers gain immediate end-to-end visibility and control over their entire cloud network, and the ability to scale extranet operations anywhere in the world via Alkira’s hyperscale cloud backbone.

“To support businesses today, IT has to ensure that resources are readily available to everyone that needs them, including end users, business partners and third parties,” said Alkira chief technology officer and co-founder Atif Khan. “This is difficult to do quickly and safely in sprawling, highly distributed, modern IT environments and multi-cloud networks. Alkira EaaS delivers all the benefits of a robust extranet while eliminating the challenges, limitations and risks of building one manually. The technology helps enterprises accelerate M&A integrations, manage complex partner ecosystems, connect B2B applications and deploy industry-leading security solutions.”

Read more about extranets

It includes extranet capabilities such as a diverse ecosystem of security and connectivity services based on offerings from the likes of Cisco, Fortinet and Palo Alto, as well as observability, resilience and automation capabilities with Infoblox, Splunk and Terraform.

Segmentation and micro-segmentation features are intended to give customers new levels of insight, visibility and end-to-end control over their extranet environments, and require no cloud-native networking knowledge or implementation.

Alkira EaaS is provided via Akira’s global hyperscale cloud networking infrastructure relying on Alkira Cloud Exchange Points (CXPs) and virtualised points of presence based on the hyperscale infrastructure of the public cloud. The CXPs virtualise and automate thousands of manual tasks associated with cloud networking, removing the need to learn or manage cloud-native routing or connectivity. This enables customers to deploy, manage and grow extranet services immediately as needed.

“Connectivity is the backbone of almost all our customers’ businesses,” said Neil Dearman, head of technology at UK IT services provider HighPoint. “These organisations need their applications and services to be available 24/7 to their globally dispersed teams in order to operate on a day-to-day basis.

“Alkira’s new extranet-as-a-service offering ensures that our customers have access to all their mission-critical apps and resources whenever they need them,” he said. “By leveraging Alkira’s proven hyperscale cloud infrastructure, the solution eliminates all the slow, manual DIY processes and provides easy, on-demand connectivity.”

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