Meet Netmaker, a startup that can help you create and manage a virtual overlay network that works across the internet. In other words, Netmaker is a layer that makes it feel like different machines are right next to each other and connected to the same local network.
Behind the scenes, Netmaker relies heavily on WireGuard, a VPN protocol with great performances. Compared to older VPN protocols like OpenVPN or IPsec, WireGuard is faster, more secure and more flexible at the same time.
Netmaker is the orchestration part of the equation. It spins up and manages WireGuard tunnels across your network. When you push a configuration change, it propagates that change to all the machines in the network. Similarly, if there’s an update, Netmaker can push updates to all the clients in your setup.
So how can you use Netmaker? For instance, if you are running an internet-of-things company, chances are you have devices that are spread out in different physical locations. With Netmaker, you can make these devices communicate with each other much more easily.
If you are a company with a distributed workload across multiple clouds or you have a hybrid infrastructure, you can use Netmaker as a sort of flexible VPC that isn’t limited to one cloud account.
The best part is that you don’t have a lot of performance overhead when you use Netmaker. “It’s just the performance of WireGuard and we come really close to WireGuard’s performance,” co-founder and CEO Alex Feiszli told me.
Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the startup raised $2.3 million after graduating from Y Combinator in a round led by Lytical Ventures, Uncorrelated Ventures and SaxeCap, with Y Combinator, Pioneer Fund and others also participating.
Netmaker competes with other startups like Tailscale, ZeroTier and Defined Networking’s Nebula — some of them are well funded. Netmaker thinks it is faster than these competitors because these companies tend to use relay connections or have made different technical choices, such as running WireGuard in userspace networking mode.
There are roughly 1,200 entities using Netmaker right now and a good portion of them are companies. The startup just launched the beta version of its paid version with more features.
It’s clear that we are in the early days of a networking revolution that is going to change how computing infrastructure is designed. And Netmaker wants to be part of this new wave of startups. As Feiszli wrote in an email, “I think WireGuard has the power to reshape networking in the cloud and beyond, similar to how Kubernetes disrupted computing.”