“Technology is best when it brings people together.” – Matt Mullenweg.
It is often inferred that technology has taken giant strides during our times, transforming our world completely. However, not all aspects of technology have grown equally in the past few decades. Let’s take networking, for example.
Since its inception, networking has been cumbersome to set up, susceptible to security threats, and expensive to maintain. While technology helped transform software into a service model quickly, with ‘cloud’ becoming the de-facto model for everything, networking is the only aspect that hasn’t undergone a metamorphosis.
Even today, traditional networking depends mainly on hardware and physical connectivity and lacks elasticity, scalability, and customizability. Moreover, traditional networking still deals with VPNs (a 20-year old technology), making it challenging to manage multiple networks in different locations catering to diverse users. Thus, most organizations using physical networks to provide access to virtualized infrastructure like cloud have to deal with data safety and complexity issues, apart from having a lack of control.
Most of today’s Edge & IoT solutions need to run software at remote locations, which is a nightmare to do through traditional networks. Similarly, networking poses many challenges to cloud migrations, especially when deploying applications to multiple clouds across locations.
This is why modern networking needed to evolve and become more agile, secure, centralized, manageable, and easily consumable. There was also a need to replace the hardware with software-only networking that is cloud-native and application-specific. Thankfully, it has been made a reality.
This review will focus on NetFoundry — a network as a service (NAAS) platform that helps organizations and developers create global, cloud-native, and application-specific software-defined networks that are highly secure, scalable, and manageable.
What is NetFoundry Software?
NetFoundry is a software-only connectivity solution that enables you to create high-performing, application-specific, and zero-trust networks with simplicity, speed, and automation. It allows organizations to control networks with cloud-native dynamic orchestration and remove complexities in networking.
NetFoundry replaces traditional networking hardware and physical connectivity with code, making your networks highly elastic and scalable, facilitating easy orchestration and automation. It empowers developers to create, develop and migrate applications on more secure and robust networks that they can control easily. Additionally, this network virtualization software works as a global fabric that allows users to connect to multiple clouds from anywhere and easily connect organizational supply chains.
NetFoundry leverages the infrastructure and investment of hyperscale or cloud providers (like AWS, Azure, etc.) and pre-installs its technology into data centers. This allows it to create networks on a global scale in a matter of minutes. Thus, as cloud providers continue to build their infrastructure, NetFoundry can develop its own virtual infrastructure inside them rapidly and cost-effectively.
NetFoundry delivers simplicity and power through infrastructure abstraction, giving you total control over your network and allowing you to simplify and future-proof your connectivity, security, and application development strategies. It also helps you spin up virtual infrastructure in any data center around the globe without owning or operating any physical components.
Each time a hyperscale, AWS, or Azure builds a new data center, NetFoundry gets a new infrastructure that its users can leverage. Thus, by leveraging cloud infrastructure to run workloads, NetFoundry can onboard customers’ traffic without fiber cables, routers, NPLs, network places, and data centers.
Several businesses every day go through digital transformation and run their workload on the public cloud. NetFoundry also does the same, but its workload just happens to provide zero-trust private networking solutions that are easy to deploy whenever needed.
Finally, NetFoundry also optimizes data routes in real-time, helping data relays via the best available network. This allows your users to be connected directly to the applications they need without multi-hop scenarios. This results in more dependable, efficient, and less complex network management on your end and a much better user experience on your customer/client’s end.
Let us now understand the key benefits of using NetFoundry software.
Benefits of NetFoundry Software
1. Agile, Elastic & Cloud-Native
With NetFoundry, you get the agility, scalability, and elasticity that you typically get from the cloud, applied to your network. It is highly programmable, provider-agnostic, and works without any hardware.
2. Highly secure
NetFoundry works on the principle of zero-trust, ensuring that every operation, connection, and activity on your network is identified, authenticated and authorized correctly. Its strong encryption capabilities ensure that your data is protected at all times.
The solution automatically determines the best route for your data to avoid disruptions. It allows for path and protocol optimization, is policy-driven, and has a dynamic core network fabric.
NetFoundry works on a consumption-based pricing model orchestrated via the cloud, lowering operational costs and leading to faster configuration.
Now that we know the benefits of NetFoundry let us delve deeper to discover some of its best features.
Key Features of NetFoundry Software
1. Easy network creation & management
Once you log in to the NetFoundry portal, you can easily create a new network and give it a name. This initiates a call using its API to AWS to create a ready-to-use virtual controller, which is ready in a few minutes. After that, you can further micro-segment the networks into smaller networks called AppWANs (application-specific Wide Area Networks) and add specific endpoints. The endpoints can be servers, IoT devices, Wi-Fi routers, or devices where the NetFoundry software is installed.
The endpoints created can reach out to a service hosted somewhere else or host that application to make it available to the chosen network. Using endpoint software on servers serving up the application, you can set better security and extend trust across the LAN, down to the actual host itself.
2. Edge Router Management
NetFoundry enables you to create routers to onboard your traffic into its fabric. The application hosts routers on your behalf, which you can stand up in any hyperscale globally. To create a router, you just need to add router details and attributes. The router built is stood up in a data center of your choice, which can be configured with policies as per your needs.
Customers can use routers created with NetFoundry to establish their virtual private cloud (VPC) inside AWS or Azure. Thus, if a router has 20 EC2 instances in AWS that they want to provide connectivity to, they can install the NetFoundry router software instead of the endpoint software as a virtual machine inside that VPC.
3. Dynamic Endpoint Management
With NetFoundry, you can easily create routers to expose your applications to the chosen network inside your VPC. Once the router is created, an identity is created on the controller. Next, the controller creates a one-time registration key, allowing the router to register itself to the network. During the registration process, a certificate is built on the router, which becomes its identity.
Once the authorization completes, you are ready to expose your application to a network and its endpoints. NetFoundry enables you to create endpoints with any name you please and allows you to offer attributes to them. In addition, it uses hashtags and axons for easy grouping of endpoint attributes, which creates an easy, secure, and efficient way to provide access and understand personas.
You can either download the endpoint registration key directly from its console or scan the QR code generated to download it on your mobile iOS or Android device. You can also share endpoint information through NetFoundry via mail to allow other users to get the files that they need to register their endpoints.
4. Service Management
NetFoundry enables you to get remote desktop access in any environment where the AWS is stood up. It also helps add custom attributes for your services and edge routers. Using the client configuration window, you can create your hostname, select endpoints, and add the details of your port. This gives you the power to dictate where your machine will be located.
NetFoundry also offers you the flexibility to choose between 3 types of hosting, which are:
- Native SDK Hosting
- Endpoint Hosting
- Router Hosting
It allows you to switch between native and non-native applications if you do not want your network to be exposed to the public internet.
Once the service is created, you can determine which individuals can access which portions of your network. Finally, you can combine all the endpoints, services, and routers through an AppWAN to create your service. Additionally, you can add service attributes, posture checks and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) into your service. Thus you can create a private network that connects endpoints to AWS and users, exposing your application to them.
In addition to the above features, NetFoundry software does not hold any of your private data on devices or servers, making it completely secure. Moreover, NetFoundry works on an open-source code from Ziti, making it fully transparent (Zero-trust) and compatible with macOS, Windows (64 bit), Linux, DockerHub, Android, and iOS. Hence it can be incorporated into any system and support every application, protocol, and port, leading to its wide adaptability.
Our Final Verdict
NetFoundry has all the necessary capabilities to transform networking as we know it. It is ideal for anyone going through a digital transformation and moving applications from a physical infrastructure to the cloud. In addition, any organization using physical networks or VPNs to provide access to virtualized infrastructure can use NetFoundry to reduce complexity, improve security, and save time and money.
NetFoundry is also a boon for Edge and IoT providers who need to run their software at remote server locations. Given its capabilities, novelty, and potential to transform the networking realm forever, we are inclined to give NetFoundry a perfect 10 in our review due to the efficiency, scalability, and agility it brings to networking.
What do you think of NetFoundry NaaS software? Let us know in the comments below.