Pertino Says: Go Build a Network!
Looking at the current trends in network management and network configuration, the endgame would seem to be an easily slapped-together, do-it-yourself network. Startup Pertino wants to jump straight to that endgame. Pertino, founded in 2011 by former Packeteer executives, has set up presences in major clouds around the world, with providers such as Amazon Web Services LLC and Rackspace Hosting. What the startup sells is a do-it-yourself managed network, one that the customer builds within those clouds, or between them, via a Web-based portal. The real technology lies in the orchestration system that's making all this happen while also hiding the operations from the user. Pertino announced Tuesday that its service, in an early form, is available to the public. It's free for networks that have up to three users, so anyone can go mess with it right away, after downloading the client software. You don't have to connect multiple clouds with the network; that's just one of Pertino's more interesting tricks. (And it sounds similar to the cloud federation proposed by startup LonoCloud -- which has former AT&T Inc. CTO Hossein Eslambolchi as an advisor.) A more conventional use case would be like this: A small business is running some of its internal work in the Amazon cloud and wants an inexpensive way to connect to it. They would create the network via Pertino's Web interface, then send an invitation to each employee to join the network. It's an alternative to buying VLANs from a service provider. But that doesn't mean Pertino is out for service providers' heads. Todd Krautkremer, Pertino's vice president of marketing, sees a scenario where service providers might use this -- cable operators, in particular. Someone like Comcast Corp., for example, could use Pertino to "not only sell differentiated bandwidth, but sell a network -- networks that can attach to AT&T, networks that can attack to Cox's infrastructure," he says. "That would change the way you look at Comcast." He admits, though, that Pertino isn't close to having that happen. Keep in mind that the service became available to the public just today and still needs to build a fan base. "We haven't been focused on those discussions yet because of our early stage. Our goal is to get out in the market," Krautkremer says. So, the focus for now is on small businesses looking for a way to avoid springing for networking hardware. Tuesday's release is being called a beta version. It's got basics including security and the ability to separate users into VLAN-like structures. (Pertino uses a virtualized network layer and doesn't have a physical address space, so the things it creates don't really count as VLANs, Krautkremer says.) More features are coming later -- among them, a northbound application programming interface (API) to bring other services into a Pertino network. Pertino raised an $8.85 million "A" round about a year ago and has early seed money from Steve Campbell (a founder of Stratacom) and Rob Ryan (founder of Ascend Communications). — Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading