Startup Pertino -- backed by former executives from Packeteer and Apple -- has what one analyst calls the most advanced networking as a service (NaaS) product on the market, available starting today as a public beta.
To spin up a wide-area network a user simply needs an email address and an Internet connection. Within minutes a WAN is running across a collection of international public cloud providers all managed through Pertino's Web-based portal. "It's as easy as installing Dropbox," says Nick Lippis, an independent analyst and author The Lippis Report, which tracks the networking industry.
"Pertino's NaaS can be created for intra- or inter-company collaboration, bringing this powerful tool to the SMB market place that most could not have afforded before," Lippis says, adding that he believes Pertino is 18 months ahead of competitors in a field that he expects could become very crowded in 2013.
Even though Pertino is only in beta, the company is already serving 250 customers, ranging from managed service providers to small and midsize businesses. The company has 400 employees and has received $8.85 million in funding from two venture firms, Norwest and Lightspeed, in addition to seed funding from its co-founder, former Apple and Packeteer executive Craig Elliott, as well two other network industry veterans.
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By bringing networking to the cloud, Pertino will allow customers to spin up networks when they need them, rather than investing up front in hardware boxes, wiring equipment, optimization components and a variety of other infrastructure that they might only need to use here and there.
Individuals and small offices can turn on a network for free, with up to three users accessing it on three devices each. A professional plan costs $10 per user per month, with no restrictions on bandwidth use. In its limited form the service is available in Windows 7 and 8, plus Windows Server 2008 and 2012, as well as Mac OS X, with plans to roll out support for smartphones and tablets this year.
Pertino built its NaaS on the backs of various cloud service providers with a software-defined networking (SDN) backbone. The control plane runs on Amazon Web Services' cloud, while the data plane is spread across public clouds from vendors such as AWS and Rackspace. Pertino protects all data end-to-end using 256-bit encryption and has redundancy built in for resiliency. An API interface allows third-party integrations with the service, such as an Active Directory.
The service is optimized for mobile and virtual workforces of small and midsize businesses, which is exactly the market Elliot wanted to target when he started the company. "Everyone focuses on the enterprise, while the small and medium businesses get the scraps of what's left over," says Elliott.
"The network outside the office is hard, complex, expensive and inflexible," says VP of Marketing Todd Krautkremer, citing an example of one company that during Superstorm Sandy in New York ramped up its WAN and VPN from having 10 people use it to 50 in just a few clicks, with no hits on performance. "We make the outside office even easier and cheaper than the inside network."
Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.