Pertino's CMO, Todd Krautkremer, in an interview about cloud and networking trends, made a very interesting observation: The cloud to him is really the concept of compute that is "reachable across the internet." And he pointed out, accurately, how much enterprises do via the public internet these days. And for his money, the Internet of Things (IoT) should be called the Cloud of Things, since you can only derive the full benefit of IoT through cloud computing and storage.
We'll see whether the term goes viral — I would be happy with an open discussion among enterprise IT leaders and influencers.
Startup firm Pertino provides a network-as-a-service offering called Cloud Network Engine. According to Krautkremer, Pertino is focused on "the problem of letting companies build private networks over the public internet, to connect cloud, mobile, and SaaS — that's the problem that Pertino is trying to solve, and it is a new category of problem for many companies."
Since releasing its public beta, explained Krautkremer, 5,000 customers have employed the free version of Pertino to build private networks. They began offering a paid version six months ago, which 200 companies are now using.
Why IoT should be the Cloud of Things
Todd Krautkremer: These days my network is in the cloud, what I need to connect everything with, my security can be in the cloud, my analytics and data storage are clearly in the cloud, and many of these new applications for exploring data are also cloud-based. That's why I think there's so much excitement around the Internet of Things.
I would probably change that description, because the Internet of Things only talks about connectivity. It's not about connecting devices. I would actually call it the Cloud of Things — the reason being that the cloud is really this idea of compute that is reachable across the internet. The really powerful aspect of the whole Internet of Things is the fact that I can harvest all this data, I can analyze it across a lot of other data points that are relevant to my business through cloud computing and cloud storage, and I can get brilliant answers.
TechRepublic: How would you introduce Pertino if you were speaking face-to-face to a potential client?
Todd Krautkremer: Pertino allows you for the first time to build a private network over the public internet, so that all your cloud in mobile and SaaS applications can be visualized, controlled, and secured in just the same way as you do with your corporate, on premise networks. So it extends your network, your LAN, everywhere.
TechRepublic: What trends do you see in the private cloud networking space?
Todd Krautkremer: The trends that we now see happening are pretty fundamental, and Pertino really epitomizes that. We are seeing a lot of cloud technologies around orchestration and provisioning start to move into the networking space and that will help reduce the complexity, and frankly push enterprise networking into the hands of just about anybody.
You may have caught the acquisition of Nicira by VMware. Nicira is a network virtualization firm, and they were acquired by VMware for one important reason. VMware is all about building private clouds. Private clouds are very flexible and virtual, and networks are not. What Nicira does in the data center and private cloud environments is virtualize the networks and make them more cloud-like.
So that is a great harbinger of the next generation of virtual cloud-agile networks. Pertino is trying to do those things in the wide area, and now we are starting to see a couple more new players enter the market that are trying to do similar things with branch networks.
We are starting to see that businesses are increasing the number of SaaS applications that are critical to their business: Salesforce.com, Box, Workday. They are starting to deploy more workloads in the cloud, and cloud data centers, like Amazon and Rackspace. And the only way you can access those applications and cloud-based resources today is over the internet. And, people are more mobile, more often and on more devices than ever before. Those people on mobile also connect over the internet.
So if I am a CIO today, what I see as I look over my network world, I see this branch-based network built with MPLS that I have complete visibility and control over, and I see all these new people and resources that are in SaaS and cloud over the internet, over which I have no visibility and control.
And so the problem of letting companies build private networks over the public internet, to connect cloud, mobile, and SaaS — that's the problem that Pertino is trying to solve, and it is a new category of problem for many companies.
TechRepublic: From your standpoint, how would you enable a company start using the Internet of Things, and start finding solutions using it?
Todd Krautkremer: There are three components that kind of have to come together for the real value of the Internet of Things to be consumed by the masses, if you will.
Number one, you have to be able to network-enable all of the devices that are of interest. You know, in a previous job I worked as the CEO at a mobile software company, and we were working with a lot of beverage distributors. Their internet strategy was actually to connect all the soda machines that you see at gas stations and on street corners and everywhere to their network in real time, so that the driver only goes and services the machines when they actually need servicing. So the concept translates into literally millions of dollars of savings per year. What is really needed is the ability to connect the devices of interest and do that securely.
Secondly, is the ability to capture all that data and analyze it. Because what good is the data if it doesn't give me answers? And that's where the cloud computing piece comes in.
The third piece is you have to make it really easy for anybody in the organization to be able to ask questions of that data, and to visualize that data. And that technology is starting to be developed by the likes of Tableau, and by these new BI (business intelligence) companies, that are turning BI around and almost making it like a Google search proposition. It's that easy — you can almost ask a question in language form and be able to mine the data and do analytics and get back and answer.
TechRepublic: How does the Pertino solution enable customers to protect against data loss?
Todd Krautkremer: Let me point out four security features that exist today in the product, or are enabled by the product, that are critical to businesses.
First and foremost, the platform itself has a completely obfuscated address space. So over the network, the address space is nowhere visible or addressable from the internet. So with the basic premise that most attacks begin with some basic address exploit, you can't attack what you can't address.
Number two, as you know, we are encrypted end to end with AES 256-bit encryption, from the device to the device, so there's no way to be able to look at that data.
Number three is that by being able to connect to your AD (Active Directory) server, and due to the fact that Pertino is an instant network that gets instantly turned on, you can have full password and identity management of all your users across Pertino, through your Active Directory.
My fourth point is that a lot of security and securing mobile devices is making sure that they are patched, making sure they have the most recent iterations and policies to control what users can do, and to be able to constantly change passwords. That type of desktop hygiene, if you will, is provided by Active Directory, but can only be provided to devices if they are on domain.
The cool thing about Pertino is that if your device can connect to the network anywhere, it is on domain. And we've got companies today that just use Pertino for that one security use case. So those are four reasons why Pertino delivers a new level of security for cloud and mobile resources.
Brian will do client work for AtTask.
Brian Taylor is a contributing writer for TechRepublic. He covers the tech trends, solutions, risks, and research that IT leaders need to know about, from startups to the enterprise. Technology is creating a new world, and he loves to report on it.