Environmental PCStartups are vacuuming up every conceivable IT function and service and putting them in the cloud, all in the service of lower cost and simplicity. Since those are prime requirements for small to medium businesses, it’s no accident the startup lineup at the recent SpiceWorld was full of new cloud-based services. Among them:

Authentic8:  Web-based apps have an inherent security problem:  The browser(s), running on a variety of devices and networks, are “inherently insecure, and IT can’t do anything about it.  says CEO Scott Petry. His answer: “Run the browser(s) in the cloud, in a secure sandbox,” converting the browser session into a secure remote display protocol that displays only the interface on the mobile device.

Think of Authentic8’s SILO  like VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure used to display application interfaces on PCs) but for browsers. While not designed for streaming video applications like Hulu or YouTube, its built-in compression can deliver up to twice the performance of traditional HTTP for text- and form-based content, says Petry.

This approach also eliminates the need to “containerize” corporate apps or data on the devices employees bring from home, he says, as the mobile device is not receiving HTTP data and stores no data, cookies or other “state” information.

There’s even an ease-of-use play. Once an administrator has set up the proper user profiles, an organization can create a single-sign-on portal that lets employees, customers or partners provide or revoke access to all their authorized applications and data. There’s even provision for multi-factor authentication and policies to control functionality such as device access or file download.

Target markets include finance departments that delegate sensitive financial transactions to outside accounts or business process outsourcers, or organizations that maintain distributed DevOps teams, says co-founder Ramesh Rajagopal.

Authentic8’s downloadable client now works only with iPads and traditional computing platforms, but not Android, and pricing starts at $15/user/month.

Exablox: For years, vendors have been trying to hide the complexity of storage from users and applications, making it easier to grow, shrink or change the storage infrastructure without having to reconfigure servers or rewrite applications.

Exablox, founded in 2010 and backed by $22.5 million in VC funding, claims to radically simplify storage with cloud-based management of on-premise disks with an object-based file system. Its 2U appliance comes with four Gbit Ethernet connections and eight drive bays, which the customer fills with any capacity SATA/SAS drives purchased at retail for as little as four cents a Gbyte. Its cloud-based management service automatically configures the drives with enterprise features such as inline deduplication; continuous data protection, real time drag and drop replication and encryption. It eliminates the entire concept of RAID and LUNs, says Senior Director, Products, Sean Derrington. The object-based file system “lets you place information anywhere you want, without being tied to any particular volume or RAID group. If there’s a site failure, the users see the same global name space but can be redirected to a different IP address.”

Keeping all the storage on site eases security concerns about the cloud, and eliminates the expense of transporting data to and from the cloud. Exablox is focused now on the unstructured, file-based market, presenting its storage as SMB (server message block) or its CIFS (Common Internet File System) dialect. It is currently scalable to about 200Tbytes of raw storage in a single file system with near-liner performance scalability. Pricing starts at $9,995.

Pertino: VPNs (virtual private networks) are one way to securely “tunnel” information over the Internet. However, expensive hardware and complex IT and licensing management make VPNs a poor fit for many SMBs. Pertino aims to solve this problem with cloud-based networks that run on  infrastructure-as-a service cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. Its Cloud Network Engine service and downloadable client software allows customers to create networks in minutes “as easily as setting up a Dropbox account,” says Vice President of Marketing Todd Krautkremer. There’s no need to enter IP addresses, configure firewall rules or manage security certificates. Removing users (such as departing employees) and devices and managing network access can be done with a single click, without the need to change access control lists, he says.

The Cloud Network Engine automatically re-provisions a customer’s network on another virtual machine or even another data center if a failure is detected, he says, and because the IaaS vendors are located on or near the Internet backbone, performance is better than with a conventional VPN.

Pertino, which relied on extensive feedback from the Spiceworks community when shaping the product, is focused on organizations of up to 500 employees. It recently announced a new management console that makes it easier to monitor and manage users, devices and policies, unveiled an app store and plans support for Android devices early next year. Pricing starts at $29 a month for ten devices.

Quorum: Testing backups is like flossing: Not enough people do it, and even fewer do it right. Quorum’s cloud-based backup service not only captures incremental, deduplicated backups in the cloud, but  automatically tests them every day, said President and CEO Larry Lang. Each snapshot is a “recovery node, which is a virtual clone of every machine we’re protecting,” he said. Quorum allows users to do file- and message-level restores, and goes up against mainstream products such as Symantec Backup Exec, he says. The typical deployment cost for several hundred servers is $20-30,000. (Quorum just announced $10 million in Series C funding, and that Walter Angerer will step in as interim CEO.)

Author: Bob Scheier
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