COVID-19 Drives Multi-Cloud Demand From Higher Ed

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By: Mary Jander

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, universities and graduate schools have loaded academic networks with unforeseen levels of remote traffic, including lots of videoconferencing, online courseware, and wireless communications. While use of public cloud networking has them coping, big schools are also finding that managing multi-cloud networks is crucial.

Case in point: At the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the ability to orchestrate and manage the online influx of multi-cloud traffic (from AWS, Google, Microsoft, and VMware) via products from Aviatrix has enabled the business school to move more education and administration online during the pandemic.

“From an IT perspective, we needed … more automation and less human involvement,” said Antonio Vivas, IT director at Wharton, in a statement today. Aviatrix products have helped add users securely to the business school’s multi-cloud services without the complexity of working through each cloud’s interfaces and virtual interconnections.

Online Ed Needs Multi-Cloud Management

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The COVID-19 situation has affected higher education dramatically over the last two months. A recent survey by the publication Inside Higher Ed shows that three-quarters of the 187 two- and four-year college presidents surveyed view access to online educational resources as a major concern. And over 75% of them intend to invest more in online education after the pandemic.

This bodes well for Aviatrix and other companies providing tools for multi-cloud networking such as Alkira, Megaport, PacketFabric, and Pureport. In the case of Aviatrix, the approach involves overlaying enterprise multi-cloud environments with networking and security software, which it orchestrates via its own controller.

Besides working within all the major cloud environments mentioned earlier, Aviatrix also extends its capabilities to Cisco routers and to Internet of Things (Iot) endpoints managed by CUJO AI. And the vendor recently added CoPilot, a product that further extends multi-cloud visibility and management.

Among notable Aviatrix competitors is startup Alkira, which recently unveiled its Cloud Services Exchange (CSX), claiming to offer one-click provisioning of multi-cloud connections and services. Like Aviatrix, the company has a celebrated leadership — Amir Khan (CEO) and Atif Khan (CTO), siblings with a successful record at Juniper and Viptela. Aviatrix sports CEO Steve Mullaney, whose extensive record includes CEO posts at Palo Alto Networks and Nicira, which he led through a $1.25 billion acquisition by VMware in 2012.

So far, Alkira hasn’t revealed its customers, leaving Aviatrix as a dominant player.

Multi-Cloud Management’s Expanding

The education sector is just one place where management of multi-cloud virtual networks is taking hold. Public cloud adoption is rampant across enterprise business, manufacturing, and government, where one cloud environment may not be sufficient. Consequently, the growing need for better control is spawning a lot of market activity, even in these troubled times.

So the multi-cloud management sector is likely to grow, becoming one of the segments to be strengthened by the move to remote work. Customers like Wharton who’ve invested in early entrants such as Aviatrix will likely find themselves on a solid track to future demand.