cloud_horse

Craig Elliott was retired, living off his successful former company Packeteer which he sold for $268 million in 2008. He had moved to New Zealand with his family and whiled away his days angel investing, sunbathing, and whatever else it is that wealthy former entrepreneurs do after converting to Kiwi-ism.

One thing that took up a chunk of his time was turning down pitches from his old employee Scott Hankins. Hankins brought company idea after company idea to Elliott, in the hopes of luring him back on the job market. Time and time again Elliott shot Hankins down, till finally Hankins pitched Pertino.

Pertino would be a closed, cloud-based computer network for small to medium sized businesses. Bigger enterprises have traditionally been able to afford such networks, connecting computers in the company together for secure file sharing and application running. The cost margins were traditionally too high for smaller businesses.

But Hankins developed a piece of software, one that could encrypt files before they ever left one computer to head to another. The technology was inexpensive and allowed private networks to run from the cloud.

Elliott was inspired by the idea. “We previously sold equipment to the Fortune 1000,” Elliott says. “Small businesses would come to us and say, ‘What about me?’ We’d say, ‘Well, if you have a million dollars.'”

Because of firsthand experience, he sees the small business market as being underserved and open for the taking. “Nobody pays attention to the small business guys because they all want the big deals,” Elliott says.

He came out of retirement and moved his family back to the States.

Today, the company launched its forward facing user application: AppScape. Eventually through the Pertino app store, IT professionals will be able to do their jobs on the go from the cloud.

IT pros have their own applications. Instead of Word or Powerpoint, for example, they might run a program that tracks employee device location or monitors application performance. These applications, specific to a local computer network, have traditionally been grounded by hardware in a particular place. I.e. the IT pros can’t necessarily work remotely via the cloud the way other professionals might.

But Pertino’s AppScape store will change that — for the businesses that use Pertino at least. It will use its server network around the world to move IT applications to the cloud. The first app in the cloud app store will be GeoView, which lets IT pros track where company devices are located. Coming up in 2014, it hopes to roll out third party developer apps.

IT and the cloud may not be the sexiest development in the world, but it shows the extent to which the enterprise work flow is moving into the air. When baby businesses’ tech support staff can get in on the action alongside bigger enterprises, the cloud has officially become democratized.

[Image courtesy: Hallie Bateman]