IT services giant Kyndryl and global cloud network Cloudflare announced a major new partnership Monday that will see the two companies jointly delivering a new multi-cloud networking service, which aims to improve performance and security for customers that are looking to shift to a modern IT architecture.
The new managed WAN as-a-service offering will combine Kyndryl networking services with Cloudflare technologies such as the company’s Magic WAN connectivity platform and DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) mitigation, the companies said.
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As part of the new collaboration, Kyndryl — which has been steadily growing its partner ranks since spinning out of IBM in 2021 — has chosen Cloudflare as its first partner in the multi-cloud networking space. Meanwhile, on account of Kyndryl’s global footprint, the IT services provider is poised to become one of the largest channel partnerships for Cloudflare, which has been increasingly focused on working with the channel.
The managed WAN as-a-service offering leverages a number of capabilities that are part of Cloudflare One, the vendor’s secure access service edge (SASE) platform that combines both networking and security to meet the needs of hybrid and distributed organizations.
Going forward, a top priority for Kyndryl — No. 6 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 — will be on providing customers with cloud networking capabilities that cut across the various hyperscale platforms, according to Josh Helm, vice president of global network and edge offering enablement at Kyndryl.
“What we’re seeing is our customers are going to be multi-cloud, and they’re going to expand across different cloud environments,” Helm told CRN. “That’s really why we chose Cloudflare’s capability right off the bat.”
Cloudflare’s global network now spans more than 285 cities across 100 countries, said Matt Harrell, global head of channels and alliances at Cloudflare.
“We have a massive network, which I think is really important when you talk about the multinationals and the size of customers that Kyndryl is supporting,” he said.
While Cloudflare offers a global networking and security platform that supports the rapid introduction of new services, “Kyndryl brings this amazing expertise around network transformation,” Harrell told CRN.
Moving to a SASE architecture “certainly is a journey,” he said. “A lot of enterprises invested a heavy amount in on-premise infrastructure, and that takes time [to transition]. And so that journey requires expertise and guidance, through advisory and consulting and managed services. And that’s the strength of what Kyndryl brings.”
The multi-cloud networking solution from Cloudflare and Kyndryl features an internet-native architecture that aims to offer improved performance, native security capabilities and backwards compatibility with existing enterprise infrastructure, executives from the companies said.
In the next few years, a massive number of companies are expected to shift to cloud-based networking architectures, and “we’re trying to get ahead of this big tsunami that we know is coming,” Helm said.
“We know our customers need networks to perform a lot better for them. We know that there’s a lot of traditional networks out there. We know there’s a lot of tech debt that they’re going through, and they’re looking for optimized networks,” he said. “This is why we’re pretty bullish about the collaboration, because we can help our clients go through this journey together.”
Key customer uses cases include enterprise WAN connectivity with cloud access — enabled by Cloudflare’s Magic WAN product — as well as protection against DDoS attacks.
Zero Trust Security
Importantly, because implementing the multi-cloud networking solution serves as an on-ramp into Cloudflare’s network, it can also enable deployment of zero trust security features offered by the vendor, executives said. Such features might include firewall as-a-service, cloud access security broker (CASB) and secure web gateway (SWG).
“You can layer on the cloud-native security features much more easily, and you can apply those policies globally,” Harrell said.
Ultimately, for many customers today, “the network and security conversation is symbiotic,” Helm said. “They’re buying things and thinking about the roadmap and the features in a symbiotic manner.”