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Lee Badman
Lee Badman
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Pertino Boosts SDN-Based Cloud Network Service

Startup expands its cloud networking platform with Network Service Virtualization, which provides enterprise-level services such as WAN optimization.

Networking is changing fast with the rise of software-defined networking (SDN), cloud networking, and highly mobile network clients. Startup Pertino is banking on these trends with its interesting new way of providing connectivity.

Pertino’s foundation is in SDN-enabled cloud-based networking primarily aimed at the SMB market, using what it calls its Cloud Network Engine. Today, the company announced an addition to the cloud service, Network Service Virtualization, which could prove a game changer for networking. However, before we examine what's new, an overview of the Cloud Network Engine is in order.

Though software-defined networking is certainly in its infancy, Pertino gives us a glimpse of the sort of power that comes with SDN. Simply put, the Cloud Network Engine looks to make details like IP addresses and host device names largely irrelevant. Instead, networks are built when an IT-type sends you an invite, and with a few clicks, adds you into the topology after you accept and install a little bit of code. Removing users or devices from the network is just as simple.

Sure, “legacy” networks are still at work behind the scenes, but gone are the days of worrying about single-user or site-to-site VPN tunnels in the Pertino model. “Old” tunnel protocols are replaced by new SDN-enabled technology, and once you see the ease of administration, you realize a new day is definitely dawning in the networking space that downplays wired versus wireless, what device you are using, and where you are in creating topologies.

Pertino’s Cloud Network Engine provides basic networking functionality, where user/device combinations are connected regardless of geographic location (as long as they are on the Internet somewhere) and made interactively productive. Still, while the Cloud Network Engine is impressive, it hardly threatens full-blown, feature-rich enterprise networking. This is where Pertino’s Network Service Virtualization (NSV) comes in.

[Read what an Interop New York panel had to say about the anxieties and opportunities that SDN and network virtualization pose to network teams in "Will SDN Make Me Homeless?"]

NSV ups the ante by adding in a range of services that put the entire model more on par with “real networks.” Role-based access permissions, malware prevention and reputation protection, WAN optimization, and deep-packet Inspection are among the features NSV adds to Pertino's basic construct. From a slick-but-simple interface, the “IT generalist” (Pertino downplays the need for network experts) now adds important services the same way she adds users-- with just a few clicks.

The Pertino demo I saw was extremely thought-provoking, but the technology has some drawbacks that balance its wow factor. For example, only client devices like PCs, tablets, and smartphones can be added to the current Pertino implementation. If you need utility-type hosts on the network, such as stand-alone network printers, IP phones or CCTV cameras, you’ll have to do these outside of the Cloud Network Engine until Pertino develops some sort of gateway functionality in the future.

Along with NSV, Pertino announced AppScape, its public-facing app store, where new features are made available to Pertino users with quarterly additions. Pertino expects to provide native and third-party network services and management apps at price points that aggressively challenge the TCO of adding the same features to legacy networks by not requiring hardware and complicated licensing models. Pertino also added Android support to its technology.

If Pertino and like-minded competitors gain traction, a lot of us old-guard IT staff will be getting nervous about our roles in a new SDN-based, cloud-served networking world.

Lee is a Network Engineer and Wireless Technical Lead for a large private university. He also teaches classes on networking, wireless network administrtaion, and wireless security. Lee's technical background includes 10 years in the US Air Force as an Electronc Warfare ... View Full Bio
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