How a home-grown software company innovated its way to global success
Netlinkz is an Australian software company that specializes in secure virtual network solutions. Its core product is a globally-patented, award-winning technology called the Virtual Invisible Network (VIN). Although the VIN features many unique aspects, it falls under the general category of Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN). The VIN is proving to be a popular network security solution around the globe, and it is seeing wide use in many nations.
Because of its technology’s versatility and wide-ranging applications, Netlinkz is attracting considerable attention in various industries. These include intelligence agencies, city municipalities, and major corporations. Because of an increased emphasis on digitization in today’s economy and global work environment, Netlinkz’s secure network technology is also seeing wider use as more individuals work remotely from home.
Netlinkz was founded in 2004 under the name “iWebGate Limited.” In 2010, the company put its Virtual Invisible Network to the test during the Global Security Challenge and won the competition. The Global Security Challenge is a demanding competition sponsored by the US Department of Defence, and it’s the largest security innovation competition on the planet.
The company first went public in 2011, and in 2016 it changed its name to Netlinkz Limited. Headquartered in the Darlington suburb of Sydney, Netlinkz has established strategic partnerships in nations around the globe, such as Japan, the United States, and China. The company also has resellers in places like Hong Kong, Nanjing and Wuxi, and it operates a research hub in Beijing.
What is the Virtual Invisible Network?
The Virtual Invisible Network is Netlinkz’s core product and the driving force behind their success. Simply put, the VIN provides all of the security benefits of a LAN (Local Area Network) while maintaining the connectivity of a WAN (Wide Area Network). In other words, Netlinkz provides customers with a new network that is more secure while maintaining all of the benefits of unrestricted connection to the world wide web.
While LANs may be more secure than WANs, they do not offer the same level of connectivity because they’re closed off from the rest of the internet. While WANs provide access to the internet in its entirety, users share traffic over the same channels, leading to security concerns. WANs can also be very slow compared to LANs. With a fluid “LAN fabric” stretched over WANs, the Virtual Invisible Network addresses the weaknesses and limitations of both network types.
The Virtual Invisible Network has three distinct modes:
- Native P2P Mode: This is the default mode for the VIN. This mode is equivalent to a LAN and it establishes highly secure communications between selected nodes
- Peer-to-Network Mode: This mode is equivalent to that of a typical VPN, but it is more secure due to the unique features of the VIN
- Network-to-Network Mode: This mode emulates the secure, leased line connection of two separate LANs, but it can be extended to a much wider network in the same way as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS). However, the capabilities of the VIN allow customers to establish these networks much quicker and with exponentially fewer costs compared to a typical MPLS system.
The Virtual Indivisible Network is scalable and compatible with operating systems such as Windows, MAC, iOS, Android, and Linux.
The VIN is considered “invisible” because it is based on a “mesh” of P2P (Peer to Peer) connections. Based on these connections, VIN peers create and define the network. Each peer goes through a process of certificate validation when connecting to the network, and firewalls exist between peers with AES encryption to further accelerate security performance. This allows peers to communicate within the VIN as if they were on a completely secure, closed-off LAN.
In other words, this P2P system is what makes the VIN so difficult to detect, rendering it “invisible” for anyone who is not a validated peer within the network. This system is also one of the reasons why the VIN is notably different (and more efficient) compared to a “typical” SD-WAN network solution. In addition, the VIN does not rely on a typical Virtual Private Network (VPN) solution in the same way as many other SD-WAN systems.
Testing the Virtual Invisible Network
From 2018 to 2019, Netlinkz launched a pilot program with China Telecom in Wuxi, China. The pilot program tested the Virtual Invisible Network after the software was re-engineered in 2018. The test was a success, and it resulted in the sale of VIN products to replace existing VPN solutions in Wuxi.
In 2019, Netlinkz worked with Omega Dev Group, a Sydney-based company, to test another pilot version of the VIN through its IoT Lab in Sydney. Omega Dev Group had been searching for a simple, secure solution to help manage communications between internal employees and with international partner organizations. Omega Dev was primarily concerned with improving its group chat and file management systems. Again, the pilot program was a success, and Omega Dev was able to quickly establish a working system within its own unique environment.
Also in 2019, Netlinkz announced that it would be engaging in another round of lab testing with Blue Tech, an IT solutions provider for the US Federal Government. Blue Tech launched this lab testing process having already worked with the VIN for two years prior. While they had previously incorporated Netlinkz’s core product into its internal systems, this latest round of testing in 2019 focused on the newly updated version of the VIN. The goal was to determine the robustness and functionality of Netlinkz’s product.
In 2019, Blue Tech announced that it had successfully completed its testing of the VIN, concluding that there were “no issues with the connectivity over the VINs whatsoever.” They also praised the smooth installation process and the automated networking features of the new version. With this testing process complete, Blue Tech was poised to offer Netlinkz’s VIN products to its US Federal customer base, including the US defence, intelligence, and civilian industries.
Blue Tech holds many prime contracts in the IT industry within the US Government, including NASA’s SEWP V contract, the DHS’s FirstSource II contract, and the Air Force’s NETCENTS-2 Products. Following this successful testing process, Blue Tech requested a reseller agreement from Netlinkz so that it could begin distributing VIN products to its US Federal customer base. This will lead to expansion within the US cyber-security industry for Netlinkz as it expands its marketing and sales activities within this nation.
News of Blue Tech’s successful testing process with Netlinkz’s VIN products resulted in a 22% increase in share prices. This was due to investors who became reassured of Netlinkz’s profit potential in the future.
Implications for Global Data Economy
Netlinkz is well-positioned for growth within the global data economy within the next decade. There has been an increasing focus on data-oriented products and services, and the VIN fills this niche. Because the VIN can integrate with existing cloud-based operations through Netlinkz products, companies can manage their data securely and without relying on an external provider.
The growing popularity of Netlinkz’s services is largely due to increased centralization in the global data economy. Because centralization can lead to monopolization and a host of related issues, the VIN is seen by many as a solution to problems that may arise down the line with this trend. In contrast to centralized data processing and storage, Netlinkz’s VIN represents a shift towards decentralized processing on the “edge” of networks.
Netlinkz is a leading force in this ideology shift as more individuals and companies begin the process of decentralizing their data. This “counter-movement” is already gathering steam, with various companies placing value on secure, customized, high-speed, and cost-effective data solutions. The VIN is also flexible and adaptable, which means that this data solution can evolve as a company develops its cloud infrastructure, intellectual property, and IoT ecosystem.
Netlinkz Acquisition of SSI
In 2019, Netlinkz acquired SSI Pacific, a systems integrator based in Melbourne. SSI was founded in 2009, and it focuses on the design and implementation of data interception and retention systems. Many of SSI’s customers include widely-recognized telecommunication companies and law enforcement agencies around the globe.
Netlinkz purchased the company for $10.2 million with the expressed goal of integrating SSI’s security products with its VIN, providing customers with another layer of enhanced protection and privacy. The acquisition of SSI also gives Netlinkz access to additional sales channels – most notably within intelligence agencies across the globe. After the purchase was finalized, Netlinkz announced that it would be retaining several key staff members at SSI.
Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Sichuan Meixunda Communications
In 2019, Netlinkz signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement (SCA) with Sichuan Meixunda Communications Corporation through its reseller JAST Limited. Sichuan Meixunda is a subsidiary of China Communications Services Corporation Limited, the largest telecommunications infrastructure services group in China. There are over 100 companies that operate under the “umbrella” of the China Communications Services Corporation, including the “big three” telecom operators in China: China Telecom, China Unicorn, and China Mobile.
Sichuan Meixunda is another major company within China’s telecommunications industry, and it provides service to almost every single city in the Sichuan Province. This represents a population of over 80 million people. In addition, the company is a direct reseller of Huawei and Samsung products. With this deal in place, Sichuan Meixunda will distribute Netlinkz’s products using its considerable market reach. There is also the strong possibility of expansion into other Chinese provinces. After news of the deal spread, Netlinkz’s share prices rose 12.5 %, bringing the total increase in 2019 to 633%.
Netlinkz owns an 80% stake in iLinkAll, a joint-venture subsidiary based in Beijing. Through its research hub, Netlinkz helped develop VSN (Virtual Secure Network) technology for use in China with iLinkAll. In February of 2020, the Beijing municipal government selected iLinkAll to provide remote data-sharing services to aid with its coordinated effort to combat the spread of Covid-19. This technology helped Beijing workers log into their offices remotely, promoting the economic recovery of the city.
iLinkAll then signed onto an initiative sponsored by the World Bank to improve water lines and sanitation services in the Deyang Municipality, providing its secure remote connectivity software to assist in the automated control and information management systems. Towards the end of February, Netlinkz announced that iLinkAll would provide development and technical services to Pinnacle Shanghai, a company that works with names like Morgan Stanely, Nomura, and Aon Insurance.
The Impact of Covid-19
Because of Netlinkz’s unique niche within the digital sphere, it was almost completely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, the company experienced notable growth as individuals and businesses around the globe switched to remote-working solutions. In April of 2020, Netlinkz announced that it would achieve full-year revenue guidance of $15.3 million after pivoting to deal with a post-coronavirus global economy. Shortly after this announcement, shares rose in value by 47 per cent.
As more people work from home without the security protections of an office network, reliable and secure data transmission and storage becomes even more important. Technology like Netlinkz’s VIN provides companies with a secure network even when their employees and associates are working from home. Innovative data solutions such as these will only become more attractive and sought-after as companies continue to digitize their operations.
Netlinkz may be taking advantage of a current trend towards digitization in the global economy, but they have been involved in this niche since long before the trend emerged. Because they have been refining, testing, and developing their VIN technology for many years, Netlinkz is “one step ahead of the curve” when compared to many of their competitors. Some software companies are just now discovering the rampant demand for decentralized data storage and processing.
SecureState – a group of independent US-based cybersecurity experts – described the Virtual Invisible Network as “among the most secure products on the market today.” They also ranked Netlinkz among the top Fortune 500 companies with which they work. This last statement is indicative of the overall appeal of Netlinkz and its VIN. A wide range of companies can benefit from security solutions like the VIN. Netlinkz’s product provides security that matches or exceeds that provided by various Fortune 500 companies but in a more cost-effective manner.
Netlinkz is part of a counter-movement of individuals and companies who are concerned about the increasing centralization of data. Tech companies are mostly split on two ends of a spectrum. Names like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure pushing for more centralization while companies like Netlinkz lead the charge in the opposite direction. Not only is this promising for the average consumer who values the protection of their privacy and data, but it also addresses a legitimate demand for companies of all sizes that prefer not to rely on an external provider when securing their operations.