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Contrail’s Founder Ankur Singla Raises $25M for Volterra, a New Startup Focused on Business Use Cases

Ankur Singla, who founded Contrail Systems, one of the earliest software-defined networking (SDN) companies, is working on a new startup: Volterra.

Contrail was purchased by Juniper Networks in December 2012, and Singla continued to lead the Contrail effort there until 2017. But now, he has founded the new company Volterra along with co-founder Harshad Nakil. The company has already raised $25 million in a Series A with investments from Mayfield Fund, Khosla Ventures, and Microsoft.

Volterra employs more than 30 people. And it has offices in Santa Clara, Bangalore, and Prague. The company is named after a city in Tuscany.

The company is still very much in the development stage, but it will focus on solving business problems. And it’s keeping its technology options rather open-ended. “The goal is to solve problems that require low-latency computing,” said Singla. “Those are the business problems we’re trying to solve.”

He said based on his past experience, working to solve a company’s business problems resonates better with the buyer. And Volterra will sell to business managers rather than to the IT department. “I ran sales for Contrail, as well, and at the end of the day, the customer’s business problem is of higher value than the technology,” said Singla.

He said it’s too early to talk about the technologies Volterra will employ to solve these problems. But asked if Volterra will sell SDN, he said, “We are not doing SDN anymore, thankfully.” But the company may use technologies such as SDN or software-defined storage or Kubernetes as components of its products.

Since Volterra is working on low-latency computing, it sounds like edge computing might be a factor, but Singla said, “We will use edge computing in our solution, but we are not an edge computing platform provider. We are going for greenfield opportunities, not existing spaces.”

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