Cloudflare TV

🌐 Helping our Customers Meet their Sustainability Goals

Presented by Annika Garbers, Rita Kozlov, Natasha Wissmann
Originally aired on 

Join members of Cloudflare's Product team to learn about some new tools we've introduced to help customers measure, understand, and improve their carbon emissions, including our Carbon Impact Report and Green Compute on Cloudflare Workers.

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Visit the Impact Week Hub for every announcement and CFTV episode — check back all week for more!

Impact Week

Transcript (Beta)

Hello everyone. Welcome back to Cloudflare TV. My name is Annika. I'm on the product team here at Cloudflare and I'm joined by my awesome colleagues and friends Rita and Natasha who are also on the product team.

And here we're today we're here to tell you about some of the announcements that we've made today as part of Cloudflare's broader Impact Week around new products that can help customers understand and set goals around their sustainability initiatives so that we can all together help build a greener Internet.

So just to quickly recap, Impact Week is going on this week.

It's a full week full of announcements around new products, initiatives we're doing, commitments that we're making as a company to help build a better Internet in sort of all facets of that.

And today we're focusing really on environmental sustainability and announcements around Cloudflare's own commitments to make sure that we power our network and our facilities by renewable energy and then also introduce products and services that can help our customers understand and set goals around sustainability for their own organizations.

And so that's what we're going to focus on today is what can we do or what can you do if you're a customer and using Cloudflare to help reduce the impact of operating your applications and networks and services on the environment.

So the first step to setting sustainability goals, and we described how we did this for our own network in one of the blog posts that came out today, is just measuring the impact that your Internet properties are making in the first place.

And that that's one of the things that we're doing is one of the products that we launched today.

Natasha, can you tell us a little bit more about this?

What did customers tell us they wanted help with in terms of measuring their impact?

Absolutely. Okay. So there's a couple of different ways that you can measure your carbon footprint as a company.

You obviously want to measure the direct outputs that you have.

So any factories that you're running, any facilities that you run, all of those kinds of costs of carbon.

But then there's kind of a step further that you want to go.

You want to say, I use all of these third parties.

What is their carbon output? And what is my percentage of their carbon output?

So, you know, Cloudflare has, we run a lot of different data centers all around the world, and we have some carbon emissions that are associated with that.

So for each of our customers, kind of what is your piece of the pie there?

How much of your usage actually goes into our total carbon output? And so what we can do is we can take the total carbon output that Cloudflare has, and we can say, we know your traffic, we see all your traffic, given the traffic that you have, this is essentially the percentage of our network that we use to power your traffic personally.

And then from that, we can say, here are the emissions that are associated with you.

Yeah, that's great. And I know this is a request that we've heard from customers sort of over time is like, I'm doing this reporting, I need this.

We've also heard from customers, hey, I understand that using Cloudflare services, versus maybe other services that are available, sort of like this on the Internet, other options that I have.

And, and also compared to operating my network, sort of fully on premise, owning all of my servers and having all of my own services to do things like security and performance, using Cloudflare is sort of a more sustainable alternative to that.

And can you help me like quantify that? Like, how can I tell my, you know, my, my organization that buying Cloudflare is a sort of a green option?

Can you talk a little bit about that? Definitely. So there's two pieces here.

The first piece is that Cloudflare is pretty efficient. So we have a lot of really efficient machines that we run, we want to run as much data as we can through our network with having as few machines as possible, the fewer machines we have, the less our carbon output is.

So the more efficient that we are as a company, the less our carbon output is, and the less your carbon output is, as a factor of us.

So that's the first kind of step there. The second step is that we actually we buy renewable energy certificates for all of our emissions.

So what that means is that all of our carbon outputs are essentially covered by green energy.

So you can see here's, here's your total carbon output. And then you can also know, that number is actually pretty much zero, just because we buy, we buy these racks to cover everything.


Okay, so customers came to us, they were like, Hey, can you build it as a product manager?

Like, yes, we want to help you solve the problems. So what did we actually end up building?

And what's what's available for customers today? Great question.

So I'm actually going to share my screen over here. Give everybody a little bit of a view.

So as you go on, you sign on to your Cloudflare account, you go to your account.

And down here, you can click on your carbon impact report. So you click over here.

And what that's going to do is that is going to load exactly what fraction of, again, the carbon, our carbon is output on your behalf, and then what your savings are.

So what we've done is we've essentially taken our efficiency as Cloudflare.

And here's, you know, the carbon that we output, as opposed to the data that we process.

And we've compared that to our worldwide average of carbon outputs per data process.

So we can say if you were using, you know, an average data center, as opposed to using Cloudflare, you would have outputted X amount of carbon.

And this is actually your savings. So this is one of our test sites that we maintain.

And we can see that if you had used your standard data center, you would have output 326 kilograms more carbon than you did with Cloudflare.

So this is actually the total savings that you have just from using Cloudflare services.

I personally don't have a great idea of how much carbon a kilogram is, like, what does that actually mean?

So we did include a comparison over here for, okay, great, that's the same thing as turning off one light bulb for 46 weeks.

So that's essentially your savings, always turning off that light bulb.

For me, that makes it a little bit easier to understand what does that actually mean.

Down here, we can see, you know, why do we measure carbon?

You've got the fact that we buy all of these RECs, the fact that we cover every part of our network, our entire network is powered green because of that.

You've also got your actual output number from Cloudflare.

So you can see that as well. Nice link to our blog post that we posted this morning.

And then we also have a lot of different recommendations for what ways that you can actually be a little bit more green, both using Cloudflare products and not using Cloudflare products.

Some of them are actually pretty simple, like image resizing is one of the biggest usages of carbon emissions from just someone who's on a computer.

So every time I load an image as a computer user, I use up carbon to load that image.

So if your images are properly sized, it's less power for them to load, and it's actually better for the environment.

So things such as that are really helpful for the environment.

Just a couple of recommendations.

And then again, just kind of optimizing your own website, making sure that you don't have autoplay on videos, all of that kind of super simple stuff that makes a difference is really, really helpful.

And I think actually we're talking about another product that we have today to also help with your carbon output.

Yeah, that's a great segue. So one of the elements there in that little other tips to go green modal is talking about workers and durable objects and pages.

So in this dashboard, we're talking about the effects of, you know, using our network for things like our CDN and security services.

But there's also other things here and other services that Cloudflare offers that are also environmentally sustainable compared to alternatives.

And so actually, before we get into that, let's back up a little bit.

Rita, what aspects of the sort of developer stack, if you're a developer, and you're thinking about, you know, hosting a website or an application or some sort of service that's on the Internet, besides things like a CDN and security services that Cloudflare offers, what other pieces do you need to think about that might have an impact on the environment?

That's a great question. So I like to think of it as kind of everything that happens from the point that a user interacts with your application all the way through to the point where, like from when they try to load a page to like what happens when you load that page.

So definitely don't overlook things like CDN and hello to the cat.

We have a guest on the show. Always exciting. Yeah, so definitely don't overlook things like using a CDN because I think as Matthew talks about in his blog post today, the closer you can get that data to users for future instances, the less it has to travel every single time.

So I love the analogy of like buying local versus like having to like drive produce all the way from like distribution centers.

And then similarly, like if you can use something like DDoS mitigation or bot mitigation and stop them from like running resources, that's great, too.

But then there's also the actual logic of your application.

Right. So every single time that you visit a website, it needs to, especially if it's a more complex application, there's compute on the back end that needs to happen in order to figure out what information to give you.

Right. So, for example, when you log into your bank account or something like that, like there's a computer that's running somewhere in a server that needs to figure out like, OK, this is how much Anika has like in her bank account.

Like this is how I want to like lay out the page presented to her.

So that's the compute aspect of it. Yeah. And so that's the or like similarly when you turn on your computer, like you do the compute locally.

But when we're talking about hosting stuff or hosted services and you're doing the compute remotely.

And so similarly to I remember at some point like computers all started having this like little green sticker on them to say that they were like more environmentally friendly.

The other thing to think about from a development standpoint is like that is the computer that's like running your compute on the other end also green friendly.

And you don't get to see the sticker on the computer itself, but we can tell you that it is.

I love that. I haven't thought about those stickers in a long time, but that's so great.

OK, cool. So compute is a part of this.

You know, if you think of sort of like the whole lifecycle of a request or we talk about like the life of a request in terms of what actually happens to the packet.

But then there's also a carbon impact of that as well. So Cloudflare has some services that can do some of the things like the functionality you were just talking about.

Can you explain just at a high level what those are?

Like what's the Cloudflare developer platform? Yeah, absolutely. So a few years ago now we launched Cloudflare Workers, which is Cloudflare's compute network or compute platform that's built on top of our network.

So in addition to being able to provide the traditional services like CDN or security, you can now actually host more and more of your application directly on Cloudflare's network.

And the way that Workers itself works is whenever our network receives a request, it will trigger the code that you've written.

So Workers is a JavaScript based platform. And yeah, in just a few seconds, you can start writing a few lines of code and start serving directly from it from the nearest data center.

One thing that I want to say that is actually also really cool about it in this context is that traditionally if you use so Workers in a nutshell are a functions as a service service, right?

So I write my code, I deploy it, it runs whenever someone visits a link.

Traditionally, the way that those are run is that they would spin up an entire container every single time that someone literally like hit your little function URL.

And so containers are relatively speaking, really, really large because they have to pull in like the entire language runtime.

So imagine like we downloaded all of JavaScript like every single time.

The way that the Workers platform runs is that it runs on isolates, which are really, really tiny.

So for the same amount of compute or like for the same amount of like servers or CPUs, we're able to actually handle a lot more requests and already be really efficient out of the box.

But today we made an extra announcement about one more thing that you can do to get more of your compute to be efficient.

And it's allowing you to run your your timed events on specifically our machines that run on renewable energy.

And so the way that it works with something like a cron trigger or which is basically a time event.

So let's say every single day I want to send you a report. Actually, let's say we took like the carbon report.

Right. And I wanted to shame you into into actually acting on it.

So every single if I wanted to send you an email summarizing that every single day, I need something to remember to trigger something every single day at a particular time.

So to do something like that, you can set up a cron trigger and actually have it call an email API that pulls all of that information and stuff.

And because there's not a user sitting on the other end of that rate, like it's not you clicking on a shopping website and waiting for it to load.

It's a computer that sends something to an email on another computer.

It doesn't really matter what the latency to the end user is.

So we're able to schedule those trigger tests just on our on our green servers.

That's so awesome.

OK, so lots of layers there. So workers, just by sort of the nature of their architecture, are already really efficient.

And Matthew wrote about this week how we sort of have stumbled into that also being better for the environment.

But we're really focused on efficiency in general across all the services on our network.

So that's awesome. If you want to go further as a customer, you can then take this additional step.

And I think also it might be helpful to Natasha mentioned earlier, you know, we purchased renewable energy credits to account for the carbon use of our entire network.

And so that includes all of the, you know, all the servers that are using energy and doing things like cooling and all the stuff like that in all these data centers that are around the world.

But some of those, the energy sources for them are more renewable than others.

And so what we're talking about in the case of the green compute power by workers is for locations where the energy used to power the servers is already from a renewable source.

So so not sort of doing this, this motion of purchasing renewable energy credits to sort of account for it, but actually like the the watts, right, like coming out of the of the ground or cable or whatever to power the servers are, you know, from renewable sources in the first place.

So a little bit of a tricky nuance there, but that's awesome.

So so so how do customers get their hands on this?

And what do they do if their developer that's like, ah, yes, I want to power my services with renewable energy?

What's the next step for them to take?

Yeah, so all you have to do is when you go to the Cloudflare dashboard, if you click on workers, as I mentioned, there's kind of two types of workers, one that's invoked through someone visiting a URL.

And the other option that you have is to create a scheduled worker.

So yeah, whenever you create a scheduled worker, we can schedule it in green compute.

Oh, the other caveat that I'll mention is that this currently in beta.

So the other thing that you have to do is go to our blog post and sign up for it.

And then we will reach out to you about enabling it for you. But yeah, I mean, honestly, I think the bulk of the work is actually just sit down and think about so generally things like cron tasks, you probably already have a bunch of these scheduled running somewhere.

Yeah. And so the thing to think about is like, where are they?

What are they running on today? And yeah, and then port them over to workers.


So customers could do this for for if they have existing workers, cron triggers, and then also if there's other, you know, other tasks that are like that, that today live in different services, consider switching them over.

Is that what I'm hearing?

Yeah, if you have any sort of batch job that runs like a couple times a day, or if you have something like alerting that's set to check on the value of something like every minute or every five minutes, I see you guys nodding along because we have a million of these systems everywhere.

So yeah, if, if you already have the setup, then there's no reason not to port them over.

And we support basically the same.

There's like pretty standard syntax for determining how frequently you want it to run.

So literally that part of it, you can copy and paste.

And yeah, we've got you. Awesome. Super easy. Very cool. Okay, so obviously, you know, this is impact week.

It's the first time we're doing one of these first time we're doing a big environmental sustainability day and launching products around this that are sort of specifically designated or intended to help customers reduce their impact.

But this is by no means the end of this journey.

It's just sort of the beginning for us. So what else are you both excited about, about sort of what's coming next in this space, or some projects that you'd really love to work on, or maybe some feedback that we got from customers about what else would be helpful for them to see?

Natasha, if you want to start?

Yeah, absolutely. So what I was talking about earlier, this piece of the pie that you get as far as your carbon emissions, we can essentially only give you that data as often as we measure our carbon output.

Right now, we have that data for 2020.

So that's the report that we've given you, it's your 2020 output, we want to continue to give you that report.

So obviously, we are in 2021, we want to give you a 2021 report once that is all done.

And then we actually want to iterate to get a little bit more granular on this process as well.

So instead of measuring yearly, we would like to measure more often.

Once we get there, we can kind of say, you know, here's actually a more frequently updated report that you can look at.

That'll be a little bit more helpful for all of our customers and give you a little bit more data and also see a little bit of change over time.

Like here's kind of how we've gotten more efficient, hopefully.

And here's, you can see the impact of our efficiencies.

And, you know, anything that we do on our side, we want you to get the value of.

So definitely passing on those values to our customers.

So, you know, more frequency, more information, and then showing you change over time.

Pretty excited about all of this. What I think is really cool about that is that Cloudflare has like one of the things that makes us really powerful.

And one of the things that we've done from the very beginning is help us become smarter by using data from all the, because we sit in front of so much of the Internet, we get so much data and so much information about everything that's happening.

And generally we're able to kind of use that flywheel and put that back into like, you know, making your site more secure because we know about vulnerabilities or get better at detecting DDoS attacks or get better routing your traffic.

And so it's really cool to see us kind of apply that concept yet again, but in such a different way with green efficiency.

And it's, it's also, you know, we want every other vendor, not just cybersecurity vendors to start providing this data.

We're hoping that once we give it out more, more vendors will give it out.

It'll be kind of a standardized, you know, you want to go purchase a vendor, purchase some 30 third-party system.

You should be able to know this data. You should have that available to you.

So we're hoping that becomes a standard. Yeah.

I think one thing that was really exciting to hear from the customers that we interviewed about this project was they're like, yeah, we're kind of guessing about this all over the place, right?

Maybe they did what's called their scope two emissions report, which is Cloudflare has ours publicly available now where you can go see the impact of sort of their direct energy usage.

And now they're trying to be more ambitious and take on reporting also about scope three, which would include the impact of their vendors and Cloudflare is included in this.

And they're reaching out and they're asking all their vendors like, Hey, can you tell me about the carbon impact of my usage?

And there's not honestly a lot of information like this that's available now.

And so customers are taking a lot of guesses, right?

And to some extent, you know, there's standards that you can use or sort of like baseline guidance for calculations.

And you can sort of figure out roughly based on your usage of a service, making a bunch of assumptions, what that might look like.

But it's hard to be able to set goals if you don't have numbers in the first place that are reasonable baselines.

And so being able to give customers this information will hopefully help, you know, help them also be able to go to other vendors and say, Hey, could you do something like this?

Or, you know, maybe then we can learn from other companies that implement things like this in their own environment and help improve our own tools.

And hopefully, yeah, it can be sort of that flywheel effect again with, you know, our own customers and maybe other sort of peer companies in this space.

And I mean, we do, we want to be really transparent about here's, you know, the carbon emissions that we have, and here's how we're working on them and getting more efficient and all of these kinds of things.

But if you are a customer who is measuring all of your vendors and going back to that scope three emissions report that you're trying to do, the thing to remember is you can put in zero, right?

Because we buy these RECs, we have you covered for renewable energy.

So you don't actually have to worry about it very much.

Rita, what about you?

What else are you excited about on the developer platform and worker side of the house in terms of sustainability and how we can, our customers can use Cloudflare to get greener?

So on one of the things I won't give away too much, but I will plug that Nevi, who is the PM for Cloudflare Pages, will be on this very Cloudflare TV to talk about one of our other announcements today.

She will be on later in the week to talk about it. And it's our partnership with the Green Web Foundation around green hosting.

And so, you know, earlier we were talking about the green stickers that you get on your computer when you buy them.

You can also brand your website with a green sticker that you can get from the Green Web Foundation if your site is hosted on Cloudflare Pages.

Because again, kind of by default, it's all renewable energy and certified.

Awesome. So definitely tune in to catch Nevi talking about that or check out the blog with a ton of announcements.

I'm so excited about everything that's happening today. I think we hit a record high for a number of blog posts published in one day on the Cloudflare blog, or at least for one of these innovation weeks that we've done, which is awesome.

There's so much happening in this space. We published our renewable energy commitments.

Those are what we talked about today. We talked about the efficiency of our servers.

We have the announcements about the products that we talked about here.

And there's more that I can't even remember just because there's so much going on.

So definitely check out the blog to get the full list.

And also Matthew's summary sort of talking about the efficiency of our network overall and where we think sustainability fits in as we continue sort of on our journey to help build a better Internet.

I think that's it for today. Thank you so much to everyone for watching.

Thank you, Natasha and Rita, for the great responses.

It's been awesome working with you on projects in this space and hopefully lots more to come soon.

Thanks for having us. Thanks so much. Thank you.

We're betting on the technology for the future, not the technology for the past.

So having a broad network, having global companies now running at full enterprise scale gives us great comfort.

It's dead clear that no one is innovating in this space as fast as Cloudflare is.

With the help of Cloudflare, we were able to add an extra layer of network security controlled by Allianz, including WAF, DDoS.

Cloudflare uses CDN and so allows us to keep costs under control and caching and improve speed.

Cloudflare has been an amazing partner in the privacy front. They've been willing to be extremely transparent about the data that they are collecting and why they're using it.

And they've also been willing to throw those logs away.

I think one of our favorite features of Cloudflare has been the worker technology.

Our origins can go down and things will continue to operate perfectly. I think having that kind of a safety net provided by Cloudflare goes a long ways.

We were able to leverage Cloudflare to save about $250,000 within about a day.

The cost savings across the board is measurable, it's dramatic, and it's something that actually dwarfs the yearly cost of our service with Cloudflare.

It's really amazing to partner with a vendor who's not just providing a great enterprise service, but also helping to move forward the security on the Internet.

One of the things we didn't expect to happen is that the majority of traffic coming into our infrastructure would get faster response times, which is incredible.

Zendesk just got 50% faster for all of these customers around the world because we migrated to Cloudflare.

We chose Cloudflare over other existing technology vendors so we could provide a single standard for our global footprint, ensuring world-class capabilities in bot management and web application firewall to protect our large public-facing digital presence.

We ended up building our own fleet of HA proxy servers such that we could easily lose one and then it wouldn't have a massive effect.

But it was very hard to manage because we kept adding more and more machines as we grew.

With Cloudflare, we were able to just scrap all of that because Cloudflare now sits in front and does all the work for us.

Cloudflare helped us to improve the customer satisfaction.

It removed the friction with our customer engagement.

It's very low maintenance and very cost effective and very easy to deploy and it improves the customer experiences big time.

Cloudflare is amazing. Cloudflare is such a relief. Cloudflare is very easy to use.

It's fast. Cloudflare really plays the first level of defense for us. Cloudflare has given us peace of mind.

They've got our backs. Cloudflare has been fantastic.

I would definitely recommend Cloudflare. Cloudflare is providing an incredible service to the world right now.

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Thank you.

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