Pertino serves up small-business networks, in the cloud

Backed with new funding of $20 million, the startup aims to offer software-defined networks for SMBs that don't want to make — or can't afford — complex hardware.

Startup Pertino, which just raised an additional $20 million in Series B funding, is testing a cloud service that allows small businesses to set up virtual local area networks or wide area networks using just software. It's an idea similar to the one behind Meraki, the company that was snapped up by Cisco in November 2012 for a cool $1.2 billion.

Pertino's vision is that it should be as easy for small-business owners to set up secure networks for file sharing and shared collaboration scenarios as it is to invite someone to join your social network. In other words, very easy. All you need is internet connectivity.

Right now, the technology works with Windows devices, although support for the Macintosh operating system and various mobile devices is planned throughout 2013 as the company tests its services, said Craig Elliott, co-founder and CEO of Pertino, which is based in Los Gatos, California.

"You can have multiple networks, basically used to connect local, secure groups of people that need to share information," he said.

If Elliott's name sounds familiar, it's because he used to be the CEO of Packeteer, the network optimization company that was eventually bought by Blue Coast Systems.

There are approximately 1,000 customers trying out the early version of the system, after a beta test of the technology with the Spiceworks IT pro community. The initial devices supported include Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 Systems with Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012, with Mac OS systems to be supported soon. Mobile devices will be added in late 2013.

Small businesses can use Pertino to create networks for up to three users for free; after that, it is priced at $10 per month, per user.

Pertino's new $20 million in backing comes from Jafco Ventures. The infusion brings Pertino's total raised so far to $28.85 million. Its other funders include Norwest Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

"One of the things that attracted us to Pertino is the fact that they have built a cloud-based solution leveraging the most innovative and disruptive technology to hit networking in a decade — software defined networking (SDN) — and they're delivering it in a practical and consumable way to an underserved global market," said Jeb Miller, general partner at Jafco, explaining the rationale for the investment.

Here's more about Pertino's concept: