First he tried connecting robotics, now he is trying connecting all devices.
Here in the US and Europe, we take our privacy seriously. Unfortunately, the current IoT service, especially the monitor camera system, is not designed with night privacy. The suppliers tell us they will protect our privacy, however, the stream you watch on your iPhone will go through their server before sending it to your iPhone. Some users may use a third-party VPN service to protect privacy, ironically the VPN suppliers use the same server for different users, you never know who is trying to attack you while he/she is connected to the same VPN server.
For Yong QIAN, who is an expert in industrial robotics automation, with more than 15 years of global working experience, the fact that in his working scenarios of critical requirements with different machines in different countries, the connectivity to the machine while providing secure remote service is very important. To him, the legacy VPN system can solve the problem of proving such service, but with a high maintenance cost, time-consuming deployment, and low speed.
So after 7 years remote working in a German machine vendor, delivered hundreds of projects in China, South Korea, Japan, Germany, US, and more, for automakers like BYD, Changan, Geely, Hyundai & KIA, Nissan, Volkswagen, Audi, and Ford, etc, a single click connectivity system he’d built with 13 members (whom he recruited in 2020 by a single tweet). Yong set out to give anyone the possibility to connect without concern at any platform, any time, and anywhere.
That system, called OmniEdge, attracted more than 50 programmers to join while Yong sent a recruiting tweet. A selected 20 member team was settled to develop the system by the end of 2020. The team members are located in 9 cities across 4 counties, including the architect Dr. Dennis who is living in Frankfurt, Germany. The company is building a better VPN by leveraging a p2p protocol and focusing on easy usages.
The VPN, or a virtual private network, is an encrypted tunnel between devices and their VPN server. Many employees in the US and Europe are required to use VPN for accessing the internal service from the companies, especially the guys who are traveling most and working from anywhere. Some big companies have very sophisticated access control systems equipped with hardware and software, companies like Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, and ByteDance have developed their own version of such systems. But most of the other enterprises still rely on the traditional VPNs system and firewalls, they use protocol like OpenVPN or IPSec with a central server to handle the connection to build the network. Let’s think about if the central server is not functional somehow, the communication between the whole company will be totally interrupted.
OmnIEdge wants to change this central server problem. They use the p2p VPN protocols without a central server, the connected devices talked each other only while don’t need any central server anymore. The OmniEdge is designed to be a high-performance peer-to-peer mesh VPN over UDP, supporting strong encryption, hole punching, and zero-config. It is a fully-meshed VPN network in peer-to-peer connectivity with strong end-to-end encryption based on elliptic curve keys and AES-256.
The demand for what OmniEdge has to offer is clear. Since launching its first evaluation version in March of 2021, OmniEdge has served more than 1000 users located in 26 different countries, serving more than 10 enterprise customers, according to Yong. The team took 3 months to develop the first evaluation version and offered it free for all the users, including personal and enterprise.
“Most legacy industrial customers don’t have good knowledge of ITs and integrate a control cabinet require lots of components– meaning most control engineers have to read dozens of documents to set up the control system, which costs them lots of time,” he said.” At OmniEdge, we’re offering an easy deployment system, control engineers don’t need any help from IT, they can set up the system with just a single click, thanks to the easy-to-use design. What’s more, they don’t even need to think about the maintenance, we OmniEdge system will take care of everything for them. They just focus on using it.”
The fact that the p2p VPN is not new news. There are several p2p VPN projects great programmers are trying to build to the server, including some with the latest blockchain technology. Those projects, Yong believes after his investigation, are either too technical and difficult to use or too complicated to deploy and maintain for enterprise use. Those Solo users who are working as a programmer are able to use it in their normal working environment, however, they still pay lots of time on deployment and maintenance. The first OmniEdge evaluation version, it’s developed based on n2n protocol, a light VPN software to create a virtual network. But n2n doesn’t tell you how to create a virtual network, active new devices to your own virtual network, and more. OmniEdge plays as integration bring the requirement and feature together.
“Also, in the post-covid19, the remote work becomes new normal. Not only the big enterprise offers the remote work policy, but also SMEs. These companies invested a lot of money to build a remote work infrastructure for the daily collaboration.” He told. “The legacy VPN system will bring the pain of the deployment and maintenance, while OmniEdge provides a single click deployment with no maintenance. Customers just log in with their companies email or company identifiers such as G-suite, admins create a different virtual network for a different department, everything can be done in just 5 minutes for a 10000 employees company. “It’s quite easy.
OmniEdge is not only for remote work or companies who need VPN, but also for industrial machine vendors who use TeamViewer for the remote control, or people who use RDP while exposing their public IP. Any device which has an OS(Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, etc) can install OmniEdge, and connect together.
OmniEdge is still quite small and with remote genes inside. With 13 employees from 9 cities across 5 countries, OmniEdge is severing customers from 26 countries. In June, OmniEdge has a new architect Dr. Dennis on board, who is a peer-to-peer network expert. The team decides to open-source the evaluation and focus on the new protocols, the new omniEdge 1.0 can reach 3470 Mbit/s and is more than 6 times faster than the evaluation version.
TailScale and Twingate are other players trying the solve the same issue. Tailscale uses WireGuard as its data plane while Twingate relies on TLS tunnels and more relays.