Building Virtual Networks with Pulumi and Tailscale

Tue Jan 10 2023

Cadey is enby
<Cadey>

This was a workshop that I helped with so that people could learn how to glue Tailscale and Pulumi (think Terraform but you can declare resources in programming languages such as TypeScript instead of HCL) together by creating a Tailscale subnet router to connect you to a VPC in AWS. I'm including the speaking bits that I did for the talk, but most of what I was there for was to help field questions about Tailscale. Internet streamer brain is a useful tool when properly harnessed.

Want to watch this in your video player of choice? Take this:
https://cdn.xeiaso.net/file/christine-static/talks/pulumi-workshop-2023/index.m3u8

Slide pulumi-workshop-2023/001

Tailscale is a networking tool that helps you connect your computers together like they were on the same network to begin with. Tailscale is built on top of WireGuard and lets you access your servers, internal services, or file shares from anywhere you have Internet access.

Slide pulumi-workshop-2023/002

Today we're going to cover these important parts of Tailscale by setting up a new AWS VPC and some servers behind it:

Slide pulumi-workshop-2023/003

Tailscale lets you share machines on your tailnet (Tailscale network) so that you can access them remotely, no matter where you are on the planet. Write that screenplay at Starbucks via remote desktop without having to muck with port forwarding or risking everything by exposing the port to the public Internet. Grab the missing bit of paperwork that immigration needs from your NAS while you are at the airport. Tailscale makes it possible for you to forget that you were away from your home or work networks to begin with.

Slide pulumi-workshop-2023/004

Tailscale doesn't stop at sharing individual computers though, you can share any existing network segment with your tailnet using subnet routing. Subnet routing lets existing infrastructure such as a legacy VPC with all of the computers you're too afraid to touch be accessed over Tailscale too. No more StrongSwan required. This is also useful for connecting to remote devices like IoT devices that you really don't want to open up to the public internet. You can do this all without having to configure complicated firewall rules.

Slide pulumi-workshop-2023/005

This isn't limited to existing private networks. You can set up your own "privacy VPN" on top of Tailscale by setting up an exit node. An exit node is a machine on your tailnet that can act as a subnet router for the entire internet. This will let you access things that are geo-restricted like tax software.

Slide pulumi-workshop-2023/006

Tailscale doesn't stop there, there's SSH management, file sharing, an ngrok-like tunnelling solution, and so much more.

I'll hand things back over to Josh so we can learn more about Pulumi.


Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.

Tags: pulumi, tailscale

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