Everything you need to know about Cloudflare

The internet security company that you may not have heard of, but have probably used

Cloudflare is the largest internet company you've probably never heard of, but if your organisation runs multiple websites, you've probably used its services.

Founded in 2009 in San Fransico by tech entrepreneurs Mattew Prince, Lee Holloway and Michelle Zathyn, Cloudflare was ranked 11th in Forbes Cloud 100 list for 2017. It has become a leading specialist that provides content delivery network services, DDoS mitigation, internet security and distributed domain name server services.

Today Cloudflare manage some 8 million websites, API's and applications through a vast network of 154 data centres station around the world – it really is the biggest internet company you've never heard off.

Its most widely used service is perhaps its DDoS protection platform. Prior to these services, users typically requested a web page directly from their computer to a server, which would return the information. However, if a server receives too many requests at once, either organically or deliberately by a criminal network, the server can grind to a halt, preventing access to its resources.

Cloudflare sits in the middle of this process, acting as a reverse proxy. This means that Cloudflare services handle all the requests sent to a server, allow it to intercept DDoS style attacks, modify the delivery of content to improve performance, insert apps into web pages, and provide rich analytics on every request to a website.

Speaking at Google Cloud Next this week, in its Security Command Centre presentation, customer developer Travis Perkins spoke of the work Cloudflare does, enabled by a vast network of global data centres.

"What we do is basically provide an edge network for our customers," he said. "That can be everything from content delivery, to edge computing, to in-house communication and also our web application firewall. So, with the 154 data centres, we can do a lot of interesting stuff across the globe."

One of the reasons its managed to build such a vast network of storage security infrastructure is through a successful Google Cloud partnership, based around the Google security command centre and much more.

"There are many areas that we partner with Google beyond the security command centre," said Perkins. "Everything from performance to security all the way to insights. And, what we are trying to do is to be that edge network for you and for your companies."

The benefit of edge computing, as Perkins said, is that data doesn't have to travel halfway around the world but that organisations can instead serve content closer to the end user where they are requesting it, potentially off-load complex security to the edge and blocking malicious traffic and bad actors.

"So we like to think of the edge as a way we meet our businesses," said Perkins. "Some of the challenges customers face today are with dealing with a lot on the security side. Different interfaces as an example. They can have 10, 20, 30 applications where security solutions are running across your enterprise. They are all silo and you're getting a ton of information.

"How do you have security across services and how do you make sure that data separation is no longer an issue? How do you ensure that the data is being transferred securely and not over HTTP or plain text?"

Enter, Google's Security Command Centre, which allows Cloudflare to manage a company's individual metrics from Google Cloud Platform (GPC) and also pull in views from the edge. It combines data from multiple sources into a single view that becomes manageable, so a company can create access and give access where it is needed.

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