NetBird, a Berlin-based open-source private network platform, has raised €1.1M in a pre-seed round with the participation of Nauta Capital, Antler, Rheingau Founders, as well as, Jan Oberhauser (CEO and founder of Sequoia-backed source-available company n8n.io), Emma Tracey (Founder and ex-Chief Marketing Officer of honeypot.io), and Mario Goetze (professional football player and business angel).
NetBird aims to simplify the complexity of IT infrastructure and networks through its peer-to-peer connectivity model that bypasses the gateways commonly used in Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and traditional perimeter-based Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). It blends the best of the VPN with Zero Trust principles and works universally on modern cloud-based infrastructure including Google, AWS, Azure, on-premises, at home, and in containers. At a time when nearly half of tech pros (49%) confirmed the acceleration of hybrid IT has increased the complexity of their organisation’s IT management1, NetBird offers a solution that frees engineering teams from time-consuming network maintenance tasks. The funding will enable them to accelerate growth, further develop the technology, and make it available across other platforms including mobile, serverless, and others.
Maycon Santos, CTO and co-founder of NetBird, asks, “Look at the standard cloud provider guide to configuring a site-to-site connection for a company – how many steps does it involve? How many resources do you need to deploy? Now imagine connecting another cloud provider or a data centre, then add a remote workforce, cloud-managed services, a few different offices and the complexity is unmanageable and increases exponentially.”
Misha Bragin, CEO and co-founder of NetBird, adds, “We want to make sure that IT departments spend less time managing and maintaining private networks and spend more time on security. Our technology can be adopted and leveraged by companies of any size.”
Also Read: Best Practices to Secure Critical Infrastructure
Misha Bragin and Maycon Santos started working on peer-to-peer connectivity technology as part of their privacy-focused home storage solution for personal data. The technology was aimed at individuals with no technical knowledge that wanted to connect to their home network and access personal data like photos and documents securely end-to-end from anywhere in the world without involving third-party servers that could potentially decrypt traffic.
Soon they realised that the zero-configuration peer-to-peer network solution they had developed could be applied to corporate networks and a new direction was paved for the company. They chose to open source the technology and it quickly gained over 4.4 thousand stars on GitHub from key engineers in the industry. The NetBird Cloud Beta version has been in the public domain since 2022 and already has secured thousands of registered accounts and connected machines.
Traditionally, corporate networks have used perimeter-based VPNs that add complexity with each new connection (machine, server, device) added. To connect or share information between two points within a perimeter-based VPN may require data passing through gateways increasing the chances of configuration errors, security concerns, as well as decreasing network performance. Ultimately, this can have an impact on both system and employee productivity.
Misha Bragin, CEO and co-founder of NetBird, compares his technology to travelling on a plane: “The fastest way from Point A to Point B is a direct flight. Historically, direct flights were more rare as planes did not have the technology to travel such long distances. Nowadays we have the technology and as such we choose to take direct flights reducing travel times and the chance of delays. Simply put, they are more convenient and reliable. Our technology is the equivalent of taking a direct flight.”
NetBird also offers peer-to-peer encryption ensured by the WireGuard protocol, multi-factor authentication, Single Sign On (SSO) integration with popular cloud identity providers, and simple access control. WireGuard’s fast, modern, and secure VPN protocol (designed by Jason A. Donenfeld) uses advanced cryptography and a streamlined codebase. The technology enables a faster, simpler, and more secure alternative to traditional VPN protocols like OpenVPN and IPSec.
Pratima Aiyagari, Partner at Nauta Capital, stated, “The VPN technology first appeared in 1996 and since then very little has changed in terms of how the technology works. In that same period the number of people connected, remote working, edge infrastructure has skyrocketed and how we access data across networks has fundamentally changed. Traditional gateway-based hub and spoke architecture was not built for this. NetBird allows computers, devices, machines, and servers to connect to each other directly over a fast encrypted tunnel without a centralised VPN server. We are excited to see how NetBird will impact the future of hybrid IT infrastructure.”
Christoph Klink, Partner at Antler, adds, “The entire NetBird team is working very hard on creating a world where private networks are more secure, easier to govern, and maintenance is less costly. This is a challenge that has become even more important in the unsteady times we live in, and demand keeps building. NetBird’s trajectory is very impressive and we are excited to have joined them already at Day Zero of their journey.”
NetBird was recently recognised as Sifted’s Top 10 European Open Source companies to watch. In November 2022, NetBird joined the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security incubator. The programme gives NetBird direct access to cutting-edge research that the company uses to optimise its own technology.
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