Canadian entrepreneur builds virtual private Internet for CIOs

Connecting to online service providers via the public Internet can be slow and insecure, warns IIX. The California-based company, which just scored $26 million in funding, is solving the problem by building what amounts to a private Internet for its customers.

The company, started by Canadian entrepreneur Al Burgio, is offering companies a chance to connect to each other directly via a dark fibre network and a dedicated network service. He hopes to automate network interconnections for companies that want to circumvent the public Internet and connect to each other directly. This has traditionally been complex, expensive, and work-intensive, he added.

Burgio founded the business when living in Canada in 2011. “Enterprises were moving to the cloud, and this was going to continue to grow exponentially,” he said. “In parallel with that were concerns around security and performance issues with the public Internet.”

Companies using the public Internet can suffer from online attacks including DDoS that can cripple their ability to access or provide cloud-based services, he argued. The huge volumes of traffic travelling over the public infrastructure, in combination with frequent misconfigurations leading to routing problems, can reduce service reliability.

This can be a particular problem with applications demanding low latency such as VoIP, warned Burgio. But other services demanding low latency include content-heavy web-based applications.

Roll your own cloud connections

Two months ago, IIX launched a service called Console. It enables IIX customers to choose from a variety of cloud service providers, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure, and Google Cloud, but also SaaS providers such as ZenDesk and Box.

“For any application one uses over the public Internet, there’s a use case,” he said. “If you’re using the Internet to communicate with business-critical partners today, then that’s probably going over the public Internet because you may feel that’s the only alternative that exists,” he added, suggesting that the service can also support ad hoc links between business partners. “If you’re a manufacturer, you might want to be consistently connected to your trucking company.”

For as little as $250 a month, corporate customers can connect to the company at one of 150 points of presence across North America and Europe. Console then lets them choose other services to connect with, and will create software-based ‘virtual routers’ at the POPs near to that customer’s locations.

Dedicated to a specific customer, the virtual routers are configured to support only the applications it needs, but can also deliver access to the public Internet as a separate data stream, Burgio said. This enables CIOs to serve their organisations with the other data necessary to support corporate users.

The company has turned these routers, called ‘cloud routers’, into an open source project supported by the Linux Foundation, in a bid to improve security, he added.

Rather than building its own data centres, IIX collocates in other data centres for its points of presence, and then deals with a variety of dark fibre providers for its connectivity needs. It has six data center partners in Canada, covering cities including Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and the GTA.

The firm is also signing network service provider partners in Canada. These carriers can connect companies directly to its POPs with their own dedicated links.

The new funding round was led by Formation 8, with continued participation from New Enterprise Associates. Former Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures is also an investor.

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Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with over 20 years' experience writing about security, software development, and networking.

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