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Pertino Wants to Kiss Conventional WANs Good-Bye

Its widgetry is supposed to deliver software-defined cloud networking (SDN) to the average Joe

As long as venture money holds up, the one thing we won't run out of any time soon are cloud start-ups each claiming to have a smarter mousetrap than the other guys and some of them are sometimes right.

The latest name on these rolls belongs to an outfit called Pertino Networks that expects to be a "ball-buster," a technical term meaning disruptive to older technology like remote desktops and WANs - which it figures are too complex, expensive and limiting - as well as other modern cloud start-ups like the new cloud storage, file sharing and virtual office folk.

It could theoretically take down Meraki that Cisco spent $1.2 billion buying last November with a virtual super-switch that manages all connections regardless of the actual physical networks.

Its widgetry is supposed to deliver software-defined cloud networking (SDN) to the average Joe by giving SMBs the wherewithal to build enterprise-class networks that connect people everywhere in minutes.

Its cloud network engine, which is supposed to reinvent networking for the cloud era using network virtualization by creating a cloud-based personal address space - a so-called LAN in the cloud that harnesses the programmability and automation of SDN and the socially inspired management paradigm - just went into limited release, expecting to hit GA later this year.

"For the last decade, wide-area networking has been all about boxes and branches. But a wave of change is washing over business today, and in its wake IT organizations are grappling with cloud, mobility, post-PC devices and an emerging workforce raised on always-connectivity," said Pertino co-founder and CEO Craig Elliott. "We realized that the network outside the office is becoming as pervasive and critical as the one inside, so we developed Pertino - an entirely new way to build a network that's disruptively simple, secure and available everywhere."

Elliott was international general manager of Apple's online Internet division and went on to become CEO and president of Packeteer before setting up Pertino. Steve Jobs gave him a Porsche to entice him to Apple.

Initial device support includes Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 systems, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 with Mac OS-X systems in beta this quarter. Mobile support for iOS and Android widgets will be available later in 2013.

Customers can get started with a perennially free personal plan that provides a personal cloud network for up to three members and three devices each. As needs grow, the professional plan that can scale to 250 users per address space will cost $10 a month per user. Ultimately Pertino is supposed to work on any device and include Active Directory support.

The software is supposed to make it possible to instantly create or take down secure networks that connect people anywhere to the information and applications they need to be productive by piggybacking on existing clouds like Amazon, Rackspace and Azure whose VPNs all run through multiple carriers and fixed points like Fremont, California that are close to customers.

It's thinking access times of 50 milliseconds or less.

Pertino is gathering customer feedback on usability, use cases and performance from 250 beta customers with maybe 500 devices. It can reportedly handle an arbitrary 64,000 devices on a single address space.

With Pertino, companies can deploy cloud servers and give them to people as if they were on the office network.

"While much of the excitement around SDN has been focused on data center networks, Pertino demonstrates the larger role SDN will play beyond the data center," said Nick Lippis, the founder of the Lippis Report. "The implications are far-reaching for how wide-area networks will be built and how network-based services will be delivered in the future."

Pertino was started in 2011 and is funded by Norwest Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Its widgetry isn't supposed to need new expertise, upfront investment or hardware like branch boxes since it's all virtual. It says it will provide as many VMs as necessary

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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