Introduction to Defined Networking

The Defined Networking wordmark over a deep space nebula.

Defined Networking

Five years ago, while working together at Slack, Ryan and Nate (Defined’s cofounders) started hacking on the project that would eventually become Nebula.

They only started down this path of building something new after searching for an existing solution to the networking challenges that Slack was facing while scaling their popular team chat product.

Could we design a network that provides connectivity across AWS regions and different cloud providers that is reliable, fast, and secure?

The requirements seemed reasonable, but they couldn’t find an open-source or commercial solution that met them.

  • On-demand, peer-to-peer, network-layer tunneling
  • Fast, modern crypto
  • Security Groups model for host firewall
  • Lightweight footprint (low memory/cpu)
  • Developer-friendly, composable configuration that was easy to automate

As most folks on this mailing list know, the result of that build-effort was shared when the Nebula Overlay Networking Project was open-sourced by Slack in late 2019.

Inspired by the work and community interest in Nebula, Ryan and Nate founded Defined Networking in January of 2020.

Since then, we recruited a small team (and we’re still hiring!), made a bunch of improvements to the Nebula open-source project, and launched a beta of our first commercial product, DN.

Our mission

Make fast, reliable, and secure connectivity within reach for every organization.

Nebula open-source is a terrific option for individuals or organizations that don’t mind managing keys, certificates, and host configuration… But we’ve found that most organizations want help with that.

That’s where DN comes in: Think of it as a Defined-managed, customer-run version of Nebula that’s built for teams.

DN: Managed Overlay Networking

Core components of DN

  • Admin web app to manage hosts, groups, firewall, overlay IPs
  • Web service to automate enrollment and updates across every host
  • Host client software—powered by Nebula—that can automatically update certificates, keys, and configuration (including the groups-based firewall)

Last October, we began inviting organizations to try DN. We’re taking a slow-food approach to the roll-out, and prioritizing quality over quantity when it comes to features.

Coming from an open-source project with years of features, releasing these early builds of DN has been especially humbling. In order to ship DN in a reasonable amount of time we needed to decide which subset of Nebula functionality and customizability was most important.

Over the past few months we’ve onboarded a number of organizations into the beta. The best part is seeing their reaction after setting it up and enrolling their first host in just a few minutes. For the beta customers who have managed a Nebula network in the past using DN is a delight.

We’ve really appreciated all the feedback from beta users. Thank you!

Brian Kelly
Director of Product Marketing

Nebula, but easier

Take the hassle out of managing your private network with Defined Networking, built by the creators of Nebula.

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