VPN provider Tailscale announces ‘Funnel’ to help developers build securely
Tailscale Inc., a corporate virtual private networking provider that provides security for services and devices anywhere in the world, today unveiled “Funnel,” a new service that creates secure tunnels from local application development environments to the internet for developers.
As more developers work in remote teams and connect to environments from around the world, it puts security professionals in a bind. They have to create secure, private networks for professionals, engineers, developers and others to work within the safe bounds of the corporate network and interact with information technology resources. This is what a virtual private network is for: It provides a safe way for developers to interact within that network.
Tailscale created its VPN service to allow developers to access services without exposing them to the internet. The company says it’s easy to use and rapidly configurable and allows developers and engineers access to everything they need within secure networks, without having to jump out into the cloud every time they want to connect to a peer.
“The idea for Tailscale stemmed from this realization that the way we use the internet today is fundamentally broken,” Chief Executive Avery Pennarun told SiliconANGLE. “Tailscale goes back to the way the internet should have worked all along, where devices can connect to each other directly without going through the cloud.“
Data is sent peer-to-peer instead of out to big cloud providers, such as Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services, every time data needs to be shared, Pennarun explained. As a result, updating a device that’s mere inches away doesn’t require reaching out to a server that’s hundreds or thousands of miles away.
This secure routing is good for internal testing and development, but developers sometimes need to work outside their networks and connect to things on the internet or open a connection to a server.
That’s where Funnel comes in. It allows developers to expose a service to the internet safely and securely without opening up anything else. That’s important because without a secure way to do this, developers and engineers may improvise their own way to do this or require special rules in the firewall to make their service or server accessible. In turn, that can create trouble down the line if the improvised bypass is not discovered or the special access rules are not strictly controlled.
“Every day, more companies and individuals are shifting towards remote work and collaboration, yet engineers lack a secure way to test, debug, and collaborate remotely,” said Pennarun. “The result is developers look for insecure and complicated workarounds and pose significant security risks and dramatically slow down the development process. Funnel solves this urgent problem by providing a way to expose local servers to the internet securely.”
Developers may want to create these tunnels for many reasons. For example, perhaps it’s time to test out their service on actual web traffic instead of just synthetically generated traffic, or they want someone who doesn’t have access to Tailscale to access the service. All of these are legitimate reasons to open up to the internet.
Like the rest of Tailscale, opening up a server or a service is easy and can be done without needing to configure a firewall. It also supports HTTPS, the secure communication layer principally used for web traffic, which means it’s easier to ensure that anything sent between the client and the server can still be safe from eavesdropping or attack.
The tunnel also supports several other protocols, including TCP, TLS and HTTPS, so developers can test them with various applications and debug their availability. Funnel is available on platforms such as Windows, MacOS, Linux and Arm, opening it up for numerous devices.
Founded in 2019, Tailscale launched with the idea that VPNs were difficult to configure and even harder to manage — and with the even more ambitious idea to change the very nature of the internet. The company last raised $100 million in funding led by CRV and Insight Partners in May 2022 to further that goal, and the launch of Funnel is another milestone on that path.
“Our mission is to rebuild the backbone of the internet so connectivity is secure by default,” Pennarun said. “We’re peeling back all the layers of complexity companies have piled on just to make working online safe.”