Helping To Build Cloudflare, Part 3: Audacity, Diversity and Change

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Dec 23, 2018
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Helping To Build Cloudflare, Part 3: Audacity, Diversity and Change

This is part 3 of a six part series based on a talk I gave in Trento, Italy. To start from the beginning go here.

After Cloudbleed, lots of things changed. We started to move away from memory-unsafe languages like C and C++ (there’s a lot more Go and Rust now). And every SIGABRT or crash on any machine results in an email to me and a message to the team responsible. And I don’t let the team leave those problems to fester.


So Cloudbleed was a terrible time. Let’s talk about a great time. The launch of our public DNS resolver That launch is a story of an important Cloudflare quality: audacity. Google had launched years ago and had taken the market for a public DNS resolver by storm. Their address is easy to remember, their service is very fast.‌‌

But we thought we could do better. We thought we could be faster, and we thought we could be more memorable. Matthew asked us to get the address and launch a secure, privacy-preserving, public DNS resolver in a couple of months. Oh, and make it faster than everybody else.‌‌

We did that. In part we did it because of good relationships we’ve established with different groups around the world. We’ve done that by being consistent about how we operate and by employing people with established relationships. This is partly a story about how diversity matters. If we’d been the sort of people who discriminated against older engineers a lot of Cloudflare would not have been built. I’ll return to the topic of diversity and inclusion later.‌‌

Through relationships and sharing we were able to get the address. Through our architecture we were able to be the fastest. Over years and years, we’ve been saying that Cloudflare was for everyone on the Internet. Everyone, everywhere. And we put our money where our mouths are and built 165 data centers across the world. Our goal is to be within 10ms of everyone who uses the Internet.‌‌

And when you’re everywhere it’s easy to be the fastest. Or at least it’s easy if you have an architecture that makes it possible to update software quickly and run it everywhere. Cloudflare runs a single stack of software on every machine world-wide. That architecture has made a huge difference versus our competitors and has allowed us to scale quickly and cheaply.‌‌

Cloudflare's Architecture


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