A bit of Cloudflare’s Birthday Week history, Tunnels, and welcome Michele Yetman
Welcome to our weekly review of stories from our blog and other sources, covering a range of topics from product announcements, tools and features to disruptions on the Internet. João Tomé is joined by our CTO, John Graham-Cumming.
In this week's program, we start by welcoming Michele Yetman as Cloudflare's new Chief People Officer. Next, we discuss a new addition to our Load Balancing solution, but also emphasize the importance of Cloudflare Tunnels — a private, secure connection between your data center or web servers and Cloudflare.
Cloudflare’s Birthday Week is approaching later this month, so let's take a look at how these innovation weeks originated and what they involve. The official launch occurred on September 27, 2010. In 2012 , Cloudflare began the tradition of unveiling “gifts” in the form of products and partnerships that give back to the Internet during this late September week. For a few years now, Birthday Week has been one of the around seven or eight innovation weeks we typically do each year.
Last but not least, we delve into trends from Cloudflare Radar related to the major earthquake in Morocco and how it impacted the Internet there. We also discuss how the iPhone 15 announcement made tech news-related sites trend in our domain ranking list.
You can check the mentioned blog posts:
Hello, everyone, and welcome to This Week in Net. It's the September 15, 2023 edition.
And this week, we're going to talk a little bit about birthday week history.
I'm João Tomé, based in Lisbon, Portugal. And with me, I have, as usual, our CTO, John Graham-Cumming.
Hello, John. How are you? Hello. I'm fine, thank you. Nice to see you.
We don't have a lot of blog posts this week, but we do have birthday week coming up because it's September.
We already talked a bit about that last week.
Before we go to birthday week history, because there's actually a few years history related to birthday week and Cloudflare's innovation weeks, let's go to our main source of content, the blog, where we have, actually, it's a company announcement this week, right?
We have a new chief people officer. So, yes, Michelle Yetman has joined us this week on Monday to run everything that is people at Cloudflare.
And she's written a little blog post about why she decided to join us.
So, if you're interested in the people team side of careers at Cloudflare, this is a good place to start because, obviously, we have grown tremendously.
We now have thousands and thousands of people, and Michelle is going to help us run that.
So, you can read all about her background and why she thought Cloudflare was a good place to come.
And she has a lot of technology experience, in a sense. Yeah, absolutely.
She does. Tableau, obviously, is where she was. And then, as she says in the blog post, one of the reasons why she came to Cloudflare was the technology disruption and what we're doing, but also the values and how Cloudflare operates.
So, yeah, it gives us a good intro to her and why she decided to come to us.
And so, welcome, Michelle. Exactly. Welcome, Michelle. And there's also values, culture mentioned here.
And also, let's build stuff together. Yes, let's build stuff.
Yes, exactly. One of the things we need to do is build careers for our employees, build training for our employees, and we want it to be the best job they've ever had.
So, welcome, Michelle, to help us with that. Last week, on Friday, we had this blog post we didn't go over.
And it's about something relevant for us, of course, and for many customers, Cloudflare tunnels.
In this case, elevate load balancing with private IPs and Cloudflare tunnels, a secure path, efficient traffic distribution.
What is this all about? This is quite a lot in this blog post, but it's about...
So, first of all, Cloudflare tunnel is a thing that allows your computer, whatever it is, to be connected to the Cloudflare network without opening any ports on a firewall.
So, it connects from your machine. I use it, for example, some of my websites, connects from those servers to the Cloudflare network, and then it configures Cloudflare to then make that available to the outside world.
Yeah, there's a good example of it. And so, that's a very, very cool thing and a very, very reliable, wonderful tool.
We use it a lot for lots of things.
I'm actually in the process of setting up a new website, which we'll maybe talk about at some point.
And I, yesterday, configured Cloudflare tunnels, and it's just such a breeze to do it.
It's just like, this domain name connects here on this machine, boom, instantaneously, it happens.
And actually, interestingly, part of that instantaneous is that we have this thing called Quicksilver, which we've spoken about in the past a little bit, which is a way of us distributing configuration information about our products to our network.
And it distributes things incredibly fast across the world.
I mean, I actually, on one machine, typed in configure it, set up the configuration for this new website, and went to my other machine and hit refresh on the website, and it loaded.
So, it's almost- Right away.
And actually, the chap who runs that team for doing Quicksilver told me yesterday that Quicksilver serves 1.5 billion key lookups per second globally.
Can you imagine all the machines looking up stuff in that? So, it's pretty tremendous.
But anyway, that makes configuring Cloudflare tunnels really easy.
And then this blog post is really talking about how you might want to take Cloudflare D and load balancing and bring these things all together.
Because, I mean, obviously, load balancing is pretty fundamental to, if you've got lots of servers on the backend that you want to load balance across, you might want to load balance across the world.
And this is really about how it all fits together into one thing.
So, you can set up tunnels to different pools of machines in different locations, and then you can set up load balancing across all of those machines with Cloudflare.
So, really, once again, the cloud allows you to do things that previously would have had to do with a lot of hardware.
I mean, look at this diagram. It was like local load balancing, global load balancing, connections, and all that kind of stuff.
And as this says, if you do this in a private data center, and what happens is you have to open in the firewalls, you have to configure all this stuff.
And if you flip it around with Cloudflare tunnels, which is all the connections come out of the private data centers or clouds into Cloudflare, and you turn everything into software, it's pretty damn cool and pretty easy to use.
Again, we speak about this frequently.
It saves you time, makes things simpler, more safe. And I remember, actually, when we were discussing this last year in 2022, I was in one of our Connect events in London, and I was speaking with young guys just finishing up on coming out of the university, Cambridge in this case.
They were pretty much excited.
And I was just asking them, what is your favorite Cloudflare product?
Because they build stuff. They were those kind of developers, young developers that were trying to build stuff and do stuff.
And to be honest, workers were like, there were three of them workers.
Two of them were workers. It's amazing as a developer.
But there was this guy that just said, oh, I think tunnels makes my life so much easier.
I'm a big fan of the tunnel products and the ability to quickly take your own hardware and get it into the Cloudflare network.
I'm in a hybrid situation where I have some of my own hardware, and I also have lots of things relying on the Cloudflare cloud services.
And being able to migrate the two of them together and work in a hybrid model by being able to connect straight to the network is really, really helpful.
And that guy now works at Apple, which is interesting.
Absolutely. It's actually pretty amazing, actually. Cloudflare tunnels are great.
I'm glad people are loving it. I love it. So one of the things I do is I pay for Cloudflare services as a customer.
So I use Cloudflare for my own domains.
And I use as many Cloudflare products as I can and pay for them myself.
So I get that customer experience. And tunnels is one of those products that I absolutely love.
We don't have more blog posts this week, but I was thinking of us talking a bit about Innovation Weeks and Birthday Weeks.
Like I was saying, Birthday Week is coming up.
Yes, Birthday Week is coming up. That's why we don't have many blog posts, because in the blog post hopper right now for review for Birthday Week, there are 43 separate blog posts.
So last week should be a rest for everybody on the Cloudflare blog, getting ready for the onslaught that's coming around September 27th, which is actually our birthday.
Before we go there, because next week we'll do a teaser about some of the things people can expect.
But in a sense, there's a bit of history related to Birthday Weeks. So on September 27th, that's official date.
13 years, actually, because the official date is September 27, 2010.
So when did Birthday Weeks officially started? Because since the get go, the blog had a main importance.
But Birthday Weeks were something that came up during those first years, right?
Well, I think if you look at, there is a blog post from September 27, 2012.
So 11 years ago, which Matthew wrote, which talks about the first two years of Cloudflare.
Its title is Happy Second Birthday Cloudflare.
In some ways, that's the first Birthday Week, because there are some sort of presence in that.
Because the idea of Birthday Week for us is that we give away stuff or we announce new products, which are really going to be changing the way people think about the Internet.
And in that one, there were some presents.
And the present we were giving away back then was a Cloudflare badge that you could add to your website.
And there's also an interesting timeline here we did about what it was like.
So I joined in December of 2011. So Cloudflare was about a year old when I joined, and this blog post was a year later.
And already a few highlights as a company, two years at the time, TechCrunch Disrupt, when it was officially launched, and some metrics in terms of million unique visitors monthly, apps installed, things like that.
This list is much, much bigger now, of course, with different aspects to it.
Oh, we actually discussed Railgun, one of these episodes.
Yeah, exactly. And there's a mention here of Railgun. That was the first thing I worked on at Cloudflare.
And that was the shipping of it when it got shipped out.
So yeah. So in a sense, it was this celebration part of we wanting to celebrate our birthday that got us thinking of a mission.
Well, a little bit, but I think also it was just we survived the first two years.
That's important for a startup.
It's hard when you're building a startup. And it was a way of saying all the things that we've done.
So we had a third birthday announcement in 2013 on the same day, talking about a little bit of the history, about how when we launched, we had a very limited number of servers, limited number of cities.
That third birthday one really gave us a summary of what we were doing.
I think it's around the fourth birthday, actually, around 2014, that we started to really think about birthday week and start talking about what we were doing.
And over time, it grew into giving things back, giving these gifts, giving these new products out.
And so I think it's grown over time. And as you see this one, it's going to be 43 blog posts by the look of things.
And for example, in this fourth birthday in 2014, nine years ago, there's this celebration.
We brought a cake into the office and then enabled free IPv6 support for all of our customers.
So it was already baked like, OK, we're celebrating, but we're also giving back in a sense, right?
Yes. Yes. That's always been a sort of a theme, is giving back, giving things away.
I mean, six years ago, we lowercased the F in our name.
That was a big thing. That was a big thing that happened. But also in 2017, unmetered DDoS mitigation.
That was a thing being given away. Birthday week, we also gave away SSL for free to everybody.
I mean, that was a huge thing.
Birthday week, we announced it to workers. It was in 2015 that we started to call something like SSL week, like something like a proper week, right?
I don't remember.
My memory is going now. I've been at Carpe for a long time. You're much younger than me.
And you've probably been in there digging into the history. I have.
I have. And the first proper week outside birthday week, actually, I encountered was this SSL week.
So it was all about SSL and its importance. And the men mentioned that we last September.
So this was 2014. We announced universal SSL and brought world class encryption to every Koffler customer.
So September, again, was related to that birthday week in 2014, you were mentioning.
So apparently, this was the first use case where a birthday week with announcements like giving back became innovation weeks.
In February, there were an innovation week, not birthday week, but innovation week, which is really interesting.
Yes. I mean, we certainly have mutated this over time and it's become different things.
And I think we now have birthday week is like our cornerstone innovation week.
And then we have all the other innovation weeks, right?
Like security week or speed week or GA week and all this kind of stuff.
And so I think that it's just become how we operate.
And it's been great for the team because you get like real focus on shipping and getting that stuff out there.
And people can see a bunch of announcements.
And this year, I mean, the announcements are fantastic. Particularly Wednesday.
I think particularly Wednesday. Oh, you're already giving some highlights there.
I mean, Tuesday too, obviously, but there's a bunch of really cool announcements around AI and privacy and databases and like all manner of other stuff.
So I think people are going to have a pretty exciting birthday week, to be honest.
I have a question I think for the audience is important to understand as a company.
First, the blog has an importance and Cloudflare blog has been known for technical blog posts and all that.
We already discussed how birthday week came about in terms of celebrating us and giving back to the Internet in a sense.
But as a company, a technology company, in what way, first with birthday week and then next, next chapter with innovation weeks, proper innovation weeks, in what way that sets the tone for the company to be focused on presenting in a given week, something to as a deadline, as a pressure to put out things to the audience, to explain things.
How relevant is that? I mean, it creates a deadline, right? It's a fixed date.
It doesn't move. In particular, the birthday week doesn't move.
We've never moved an innovation week. I think that that focuses everybody's mind.
It also, one of the things that focusing like that does is it makes you decide what features you really need to ship.
It makes you ship the software.
It makes you just get clarity on what you're doing. And I think that is one thing that innovation weeks really, really do.
And also, hopefully, people can enjoy the birthday week on the other side of it, right?
And see what we're announcing, see what cool stuff we're coming up with.
Over the years, of course, like we were showing, sometimes it was one or two specific announcements, but then it was also related to a more organized way, a proper innovation week with a lot of announcements.
We already talked about this one having like around 40 blog posts. In one way, that evolution over the years also became more organized, more structured, more part of the...
I mean, way more. So originally, I mean, it was just like everything else in the startup, where it's all hands on deck, just sort of doing stuff.
When you're trying to get 43 blog posts through editing, graphics, screenshots, legal, all this kind of stuff, you need a lot of structure around that.
I mean, I don't think originally we even used Jira for blog posts. I think we just wrote them in Google Docs and pasted them.
Now, obviously, we're a bit more of a process, which you're quite involved in too.
For birthday week, Reagan is shepherding a lot of stuff to get everybody's stuff in line.
And so there's the announcement side of it, and then there's the building the software side of it too.
There's also some of these announcements will be partnerships as well.
So you're working with partners and getting those either contracts in place or agreements in place about how we're going to operate.
So I think, yes, it's become a lot more organized than it was in the first few years, but lots of other stuff has become a lot more organized too.
We just... Of course. Yeah. A lot more people, a lot more stuff happening.
You need organization. To be honest, as someone that has been at the...
Actually, I'm celebrating two years at the company this week.
As someone... Is that right? Congratulations. It is. Thank you. But one of the things that surprised me is how much effort all of the company in a sense, so many teams from different aspects in terms of technology, software, but also marketing, communications, everyone is brought together for these types of events, especially birthday week.
And it's kind of amazing to see the focus, the drive of people, so many people doing this.
Of course, it was not that in the beginning, a smaller company, but now it's not only organized, but it brings so many people together, thinking on the same topics.
It's quite amazing to be honest. You're absolutely right.
It is a big rallying round as a team, shipping stuff together, getting it out together.
That does feel good. I mean, shipping feels good, right?
I mean, getting software out feels really good. So I think that's great.
And I'm looking, I've actually spent all this morning editing blog posts that are going out.
So I've read through about 14, I think, of the announcements. I think there's a lot of good stuff going to be in there.
Exactly. I know a few, but I'm curious because there's always new aspects to be aware of.
One of the things, as a question, there's been many birthday weeks, of course.
Is there one that pops to mind right now in terms of even feedback from customers, from the community, that you've been thinking, hey, this was one of those birthday weeks that I was surprised in some way?
Well, I mean, I think the original SSL one, because it's hard to imagine right now because so much of the web that we use is encrypted, but SSL certificates were hard to get and expensive, and we just gave them away for everybody.
And that actually doubled the size of the encrypted web overnight. And that was pretty wild.
So that was pretty amazing. I think announcing Cloudflare Workers, that really, I mean, that announcement, especially because that announcement was, you know, Kent had written a very technical blog post to go with it, really described how it worked.
That was a really huge one. But there are so many things that have been in birthday week over the years, it's really, it's hard for me to pick, you know, this is the one.
I mean, the YubiKey deal we did, that was a birthday week announcement.
What was the YubiKey? So I have a YubiKey here somewhere, if I can find one.
Anyway, you know, it's a hardware key, plug into your laptop, plug into your phone.
I can help there. There you go, you got a YubiKey right there.
This little thing. I have like 10 of these things. Wait a minute, I have one here somewhere.
Anyway, yes, here it is. This is my, this shop. Oh, that's a nice one.
This is one of mine. I have it. I put all my YubiKeys on, I put funny tags on them because otherwise I don't know which one is which.
And then if I, you know, when you, so if you ever register a website using a hardware key, the hardware key, they allow you to name it.
So you know which one is which. So what I did was I bought over time, like random key, these are key rings.
So this one is for Airbus A380.
It says, follow me on it. And so actually if I log in and this is my key for GitHub, it'll say, oh, you know, use YubiKey, follow me.
And I'm like, oh yeah, I know which one is follow me.
It's this one over here. And I have another, I have another one here, which is actually this one doesn't have it on right now, but this is from the MoMA in New York, little blue key ring.
So I'll have like, use MoMA blue as your key.
You must remember MoMA means this. And yeah, it was like MoMA blue. So, you know, the website will pop up and say, you know, use this particular one.
So anyway, these YubiKey things are hardware keys, which provide a really secure second factor for logging into websites or applications.
And we wanted to get them in as many people's hands as possible.
So we had a very, very good deal with Yubico that if you were a Cloudflare customer, you could buy keys very cheaply.
And in fact, I myself bought a whole bunch of keys very cheaply through that deal.
But the idea being to get these keys out there to as many people as possible.
Makes sense. So I think we have a good picture in terms of birthday week, innovation weeks, and its evolution over the years.
I was actually, I found one innovation week, which was encryption weeks back from 2016.
That, in a sense, also highlighted that we gave universal SSL away, putting encryption so much needed in so many aspects of the Internet encryption available.
I think that also, in a sense, motivated others in the industry to give it away, right?
So it brought something to the Internet, but it also made others possibly change their thinking on, should we?
I mean, I think Cloudflare has tried to do that over time. We did that originally with our CDN pricing, which was a flat rate rather than per bandwidth, gave away SSL for free, gave away DDoS mitigation for free, created the bandwidth alliance so that people weren't paying double for egress fees.
I mean, all of these things are too, which doesn't have egress fees. Hopefully rethink how things are priced on the Internet and hopefully provide fair and clear pricing for whatever you're putting on the net.
Exactly, makes sense. Before we go, this week there was an iPhone 15 announcement from Apple, and there was also in our call for radar bulletin of sorts, some outages, some problems, disruptions in terms of Internet.
I'll share my screen for us to take a look on that.
In terms of the outages, mostly there's this space link outage. Starlink, exactly.
SpaceX, a Starlink outage that was seen here. And it was short lived, but again, those things sometimes happen.
This was a global outage for them, right? It was, it was global.
Exactly. This is the global perspective from them. So impacting a lot of users.
They have a lot of users as a satellite service. There's also two maintenance related, apparently in Iran network problems.
And last week on Friday night, there was a big earthquake that was on the news.
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Morocco.
Did you feel it in Lisbon? I didn't. I was awake at that time. It was 11 pm, I think, in Lisbon and Morocco actually, because it's the same time zone.
And I didn't feel it, but I know people that did in Lisbon.
Did you? I didn't feel it, but there were a lot of stuff in our apartment here made a weird like cracking sound.
Not violent. I mean, I've been in earthquakes in California, but it was more like, why are things making a sound?
And it was only the next day. I was like, oh, that must be why things creaked a bit, which is quite shocking given how far away we are from Marrakech.
It is. It's like 800 kilometers or something like that. Pretty far.
With a sea. Yeah. But yeah, but as we say, I mean, a huge ongoing disaster in Morocco and also a big, big drop in Internet, perhaps unsurprisingly.
And we can see here like those regions like Marrakech were having 64% less traffic compared with the previous week.
So a clear impact. And we monitored through the week, the evolution of traffic, and it was lived for a few days, actually.
We did this update and you can see that up until Tuesday, almost the traffic was much lower in those regions.
Because of combination of power outages, fiber disruption and stuff like that.
And so, yeah. True. And also like if people are dealing with stuff and not using the Internet for that, sometimes that's also had an impact.
We saw a similar situation in Turkey earlier this year with the earthquake in the south of Turkey.
That impact was more big because it had more consequences, in a sense, unfortunately.
So in those regions in South Turkey, it was like for a few weeks, you could see.
Right. It took a long time to restore power or connectivity.
Yeah. True. And just to give people a sense, this is Morocco-related ATTP requests.
The Morocco earthquake was the day in the past few months with the least traffic as daily ATTP requests.
Lower than that. Sad. Yeah. A sad reflection of the trauma people are going through, showing up on a graph in our network statistics.
Exactly. And there's also Islam celebration related drops.
Ramadan right there. Yes. Yes. Very easy to see. Yeah. Which makes sense. People are doing their religious holidays.
Yeah. So they're not online. So traffic drops.
Yeah. We also have a perspective I put together here. So on Radar, we have this domain ranking.
And we discussed this before. There's trending today and trending this week perspective.
The trending this week is updated on Mondays. So we don't have right now a view of this week specifically.
But I put together a chart here that shows us what was trending in the U.S.
in terms of domains on September the 13th.
And that was the day after Apple on the day, actually, that Apple launched or announced the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro.
And funnily enough, MacRumors.com and PhoneArena.com were trending in the U.S.
And CNN also. Well, that's great.
T-Mobile even. People were probably going to their mobile carrier and trying to see if they could upgrade.
Yeah, that's true. Because you're a gadget fanatic, right?
I am. Not right now. So I will wait a bit, to be honest. For me, it's important the weight and all that.
It's titanium. So it's much more lighter. iPhone 15 Pro.
It's much lighter than the previous ones, actually. Although it's a little bit thicker, which is peculiar.
But interesting enough, WarnerBrothers.com launched in the previous week the The Nun 2 movie.
That's why it's trending, you think?
I'm not sure. Of course, I don't know that. But Warner Brothers also launched a very popular movie, recent movie, not this week specifically or today.
But it's Barbie. Warner Brothers is... Maybe there's a Barbie hangover effect still happening?
It's possible. I still haven't seen Barbie. I haven't seen it.
I did. I know you did. I know you did. I went to see Oppenheimer, but I haven't seen Barbie.
So maybe it's time I saw Barbie. It's good. It's a good entertainment with a few interesting highlights.
Oh, well. All right. That's This Week in Net for you this week.
And next week, we'll have a Birthday Week teaser.
Yes, Birthday Week teaser. And then the week after, I don't know, we'll probably have a three-hour version of this show, trying to go through every blog post we've done.
Let's hope it's not three hours. Wonderful. See you. Thank you so much.
See you. Bye. That's a wrap. Bye.