Birthday Week 2023 edition. AI, connectivity cloud, and so much more
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 kick things off with an intro directly from the balcony of our Lisbon office. Then, we dive into the week packed with announcements, tools, and products from Cloudflare’s Birthday Week, where we aim to give back to the Internet.
On Monday, our 13th birthday brought us important sustainability stats (you can cut your network carbon emissions by up to 96% ), and we highlighted the significance of dynamically routing traffic across the globe , along with the introduction of Incident Alerts .
Tuesday was all about explaining how Cloudflare functions as a connectivity cloud , providing a modern way to connect and protect your clouds, networks, applications, and users. There’s also mention to the Amazon’s $2bn IPv4 tax — and how you can avoid paying it.
Wednesday was AI day, featuring the launch of Workers AI (serverless GPU-powered inference on Cloudflare’s global network), Vectorize (a vector database for shipping AI-powered applications to production, fast), AI Gateway (making AI applications more observable, reliable, and scalable), and the use of WebGPU in Cloudflare Workers. We also announced a slew of AI-related partnerships , and the annual Founders’ Letter comes with an AI poem (from a model running on Workers AI).
Thursday put the spotlight on databases and a partnership with Microsoft to power their Edge Secure Network . We delved into topics like Hyperdrive (making databases feel global), new Workers pricing (never pay to wait on I/O again), and the arrival of the D1 open beta .
Finally, Friday revolved around privacy and security. We made Post Quantum Cryptography generally available (to safeguard against quantum computers) and introduced Cloudflare Email Retro Scan to tackle email threats lurking in your Office 365. Other highlights included our ability to detect zero-days before they become an issue, and the fact that Cloudflare is now free of CAPTCHAs (Turnstile is free for everyone).
Check our Birthday Week 2023 Hub to see all the blog posts and related Cloudflare TV segments.
Please welcome to the floor, Cloudflare. Right? Right. So my name is Matthew Prince.
This is Michelle Zatlin. The back of the room somewhere is Lee Holloway. We are three of the co-founders.
Hi, I'm Carrie Linder.
I'm from our Lisbon office. Welcome to a special edition of This Week in Net.
Happy birthday, Cloudflare! Hello everyone.
I'm João Tomé, based in Lisbon, Portugal. And with me, I have as usual, our CEO, John Graham-Cumming.
Hello, John. How are you? Hey, I'm fine. Thank you.
Good morning to you. Good afternoon if you're watching this somewhere else.
Good evening, whatever the time of day is. It's our birthday week that marks Cloudflare's 13th birthday.
And there's a lot. It's a very busy week with blog posts, with the interest from journalists, from some of the announcements.
We have Internet sustainability. What is Connectivity Cloud?
Our new AI inference capabilities. I'm still having trouble with that word. Hyperdrive.
What is it in Portuguese? Inferencia. Inferencia. Okay. Well, I'll try inferencia and you should say inference.
Inference. There you go. Perfect.
We're all sorted out. Inferencia. There's also hyperdrive by accelerating databases with amazing partnerships also regarding AI and the developer's world and also security and privacy announcements.
That's like the week in a nutshell. Your rough view of the week.
Let's start with the more detailed perspective. In terms of the week, we started on Monday with sustainability.
That's usually a very big word.
As a journalist, it was not my favorite word because generally speaking, it doesn't mean a lot.
You have to add like percentage. You have to add something to the word because today it's very useful for all sorts of things.
Why did you call for a start the week with sustainability in a sense?
Well, it's been an important topic for Cloudflare for a long time, but in particular this week, because we had an independent third party look at what's the carbon impact if you replace all that networking stuff like firewalls and DDoS devices and load balancers with a cloud service.
Because we run the cloud service very efficiently, because we use green energy, it's up to a 96% decrease in the carbon impact.
That I think was a pretty fascinating announcement.
It shows really the efficiency of using something like Cloudflare.
The blog post you're mentioning is this one, switching to Cloudflare can cut your network carbon emissions up to 96%.
That's a very big number.
It's a very big number, but it really is based on the fact that, of course, we have this great level of efficiency in running our network.
Whereas if you have separate devices, which are not necessarily running at full capacity all over the place, they're wasteful.
There's a lot of legacy out there in terms of these types of networks.
This is also the traditional versus cloud-based networking security at heart.
It is, but I think we should move on. We've got so many announcements this week.
I think we're a few seconds early. What's next? What's next?
On my list, we have Cloudflare Fonts. Cloudflare Fonts. The thing about Cloudflare Fonts is if you embed fonts from a third party, in particular from Google, you're sending information about your user's traffic to Google.
Your user goes to some website, and then their browser has to go to Google to get the font.
What we've done is introduced our own font service, and it's first party. It's on your domain.
You're not using a third party domain. You're not giving any information to a third party.
That does two things. It makes it more private because you're not going to a third party, and it makes it faster because your browser can optimize the connection to Cloudflare.
If you're using Cloudflare, you're using Google Fonts, you can replace it with Cloudflare Fonts and get privacy and speed all in one.
I was surprised to the amazing feedback we got from this blog post.
It was not because it's a small thing, but apparently, a lot of people think this could be really important for their work.
I think a lot of people are aware that putting in Google Fonts, you end up with essentially a privacy leak to a third party.
I was showing before our hub, our birthday week hub, where we have all of the updates and announcements.
In my list, next, I have how Cloudflare systems dynamically route traffic across the globe.
This is all about automation versus manual work. That's the thing.
As our network has grown, the only way to manage it is through automation.
One of the things that happens is because there's a lot of Internet weather, things are happening on the Internet.
There's a connection die somewhere, there's packet loss somewhere.
This stuff goes on all the time. We have to monitor that and then we have to decide what to do about it.
In the past, it was done manually.
You move traffic around because this data center is having trouble or a connection to a data center is down.
We built a system called Traffic Manager that does it automatically.
We built another system called Traffic Predictor, which figures out if an action were taken, you turn off a link to a particular data center, what's going to happen to the traffic that would have come to that data center?
Where is it going to go? That's a really in-depth blog post about how we do management of a network of our scale, which is truly global, 100 countries, 300 cities, and make sure the end users don't see all of the changes that are going on constantly, and we do it automatically.
It's amazing to see how all of this works. I really like this subtitle, never send a human to do a machine's job.
It really sums up.
In this case, no human could do it at the speed at which the machines are doing it.
Last week, we spoke about typos and how typos can bring networks down. That's not the case if you do the right automation and prepare things for the better.
Exactly. On the same day, on Monday, we announced incident alerts. Yeah.
We have obviously the status page, Cloudflare status, where you can read about it, but some people want to get sent an alert if there's an issue on our systems.
That's what Cloudflare incident alerts does. That's for the people who depend heavily on Cloudflare and want to know exactly what's going on.
If there's some issue, they can find out quickly.
One of the problems is, if you don't do that, then if you have a problem with your website, you probably start, or your API or whatever, you start debugging it yourself.
If it's actually Cloudflare that's having a problem, then you've wasted time.
Sign up for Cloudflare incident alerts if you want to do that.
Exactly. It seems very easy to use, and it puts people prepared for something they really need to be aware of when incidents occur.
Yep. Absolutely. Then came Tuesday. On Tuesday, we announced, in a sense, the new name we're using for the bunch of amazing products we have, which is Connectivity Cloud.
Right. This has been a long process where Cloudflare has been thinking about what is the category we're in.
What sort of thing is Cloudflare? Some people are like, it's a CDN.
It's not really a CDN. We're a security company. Well, it's not really a security company.
We have a developer app. There's all these kinds of things.
What we've come up with is this concept of a connectivity cloud. It's a way of connecting together everything, networks, applications, users, and then controlling that traffic, controlling where it flows, load balancing it, rate limiting it, doing security on it, making it faster with caching, making that whole thing programmable through workers.
This is to define who we are, to say that what we are is a connectivity cloud.
That's different from a hyperscaler.
It's different from a hosting company. It's different from a security company.
Hopefully, this will help people talk about who Cloudflare is. In a sense, it also simplifies the message, which is something really important when you're trying to show and also share what your services are all about, what they enable, in a sense, right?
Yes, yes, absolutely. There's the principles here that connectivity cloud is built upon, but it's also principles for the future, right?
Yeah, it's setting the stage for who we are, and we can build on that.
There's also Carrefour here example.
Canva, we have specific examples.
Yeah, lots of different examples, yeah. For all the different services.
Also on Monday, we had this amazing announcement, in a sense, that's all about something that was announced by Amazon recently regarding IPv4.
It's like a tax, right, that's coming? Yes, so Amazon, if you use a public IPv4 address, a classic IP address, Amazon is going to charge you for it.
They're going to charge you $43 a year per address, and they have such a large swathe of IP addresses that they control, but that works out to be, if they monetize it all, about $2 billion tax on the Internet.
The reason I say it's a tax is we have an alternative to this.
The alternative is to use IPv6, which has been around for years, and Amazon has stuck to IPv4 here.
And the truth is the world needs to move to IPv6. It solves the problem of a lack of IPv4 addresses.
It's here, it works. We've been using it for years.
In fact, our first ever birthday week announcement was our IPv6 to IPv4 gateway.
Any customer who uses Cloudflare can use IPv6 and IPv4 together.
And so this announcement is just to say that come to Cloudflare, use us and don't pay Amazon.
You can just set up IPv6 on the Amazon side. We'll give you the IPv4 address that you need for the public Internet, so you don't lose out at all.
And not only that, if you stick with us, you will not only not pay Amazon the $43, we will give you $43 in credits on Cloudflare.
So this is really about a little bit of money for the end user, but all really about the Internet getting better because we need IPv6 everywhere.
Exactly. I was amazed first to see that IPv6 is still not as much adopted as some people would want.
But also there's some difficulty in transition for some networks, sometimes of situations specifically.
So that would be a real tax for some. Yep, yep. And there's no point, there's no need to pay it.
We'll help you not pay that tax. Exactly. And you mentioned the 2011 blog post where we announced IPv6 Gateway Automatic.
I just want to put it here because it was our first year.
Cloudflare was doing one year at a time.
Yeah, that's right. 27th of September, 2011. We also had a few announcements related to radar.
That's right. So there's a couple of things. So we have new traffic anomalies pages on radar.
So when we see something strange happen on the Internet, could be an outage, could be a cable cut, could be something like that.
We show it on radar and we can notify you about it. And then there's a very detailed technical blog about how we do this, because actually detecting some of these outages is quite complicated.
And not all outages show up as a simple, complete lack of Internet.
And also, if it's not like that, then you're looking for drops in Internet, but drops of Internet can happen for other things.
People go to sleep. There's a religious festival of some sort. I mean, there's all sorts of things that cause it.
So those two blog posts go together to tell you how we detect them and how you can sign up and how you can look at traffic anomalies around the world.
And it's very much difficult to understand how traffic works.
And this was an amazing work from the radar team and Carlos in particular to explore this.
Close to this, so I know how it went. It's a great addition and people can really add notifications so they can track specific ASNs, countries to see traffic anomalies.
And then came Wednesday. With Wednesday was the, I would say, the bigger day because it was the AI day.
Well, yeah. This was the day with a lot of perhaps the more surprising announcements coming.
So a couple of things.
We announced a bunch of partnerships or companies we're working with.
So we announced that we're working with Meta to bring Llama 2 to our network. We announced we're working with Hugging Face to make it possible to deploy anything that Hugging Face has onto our network.
Actually, one click from their UI.
And we're working with, well, we're using Microsoft Onyx, right? We're working with Databricks.
That was another announcement that came out. It was like a whole swathe of announcements, right?
About all this kind of stuff. We're working with Microsoft to make it easy to do, you know, run models on our network, a whole bunch of stuff.
All of this is powered by a thing called Workers AI. So not long ago, we launched a thing called Constellation, which was our first dipping our toes in, giving our customers the ability to run models on our network.
That got a lot of interest.
But we quite quickly realized that we were going to need to have a rollout of GPUs across our network.
So the team has done an incredible job and rolled out GPUs all over the place and is rolling out by the end of the year into 100 locations and by next year into the entire network, essentially.
So that you can do AI on the cloud network. We renamed Constellation Workers AI.
So we announced that on Wednesday. We announced all those partnerships.
We also announced web GPU support. So if you want to do other things with GPUs, because we now have GPUs, you can build that with Cloudflare Workers.
So, I mean, a ton of stuff.
And really a wrap-up blog post, the one about the best place on region Earth for inference is Cloudflare.
It talks about, you know, how you can use our network to run AI wherever you are with low latency.
And also do it in a private way, right?
One of the concerns is that models are only getting run in, say, the US.
Data is having to be transferred to the US. Because we can run anywhere in our network.
We can use our data localization stuff to allow you to say this data can be used with the model, but only in a certain location.
So that was a big day.
And it's live as well. If you want to try it, you can try out a model.
Well, go to ai.Cloudflare.com. You can try stuff there, but you can also just write code and just run it right now.
I actually did it yesterday. I actually used Llama too.
And I made myself a private little chatbot. And it was easy. It just ran on the Cloudflare network just like that.
This is the ai.Cloudflare.com you were mentioning.
It has a bunch of things for people to explore. Also to grab your model and go.
The partnership you were mentioning. And also text generation, speech recognition.
You can do tests here using Worker's AI. And some of the partnerships already here, shown Llama.
Kind of stuff here. So if you want to do AI and you're interested in doing AI stuff, Cloudflare is the place to do it now.
Exactly. And you were mentioning specifically this blog post. It does a sum up also of the day.
Because there's a bunch of announcements that are summed up here.
Worker's AI running on NVIDIA GPUs, as you were saying, on Cloudflare's network.
You mentioned already 100 locations with this GPU for AI by the end of the year.
But there's also more coming next year, right? Yes, yes. We're going to fill out.
There's a map at the bottom of this blog post. I believe it shows it. So you can take a look at that.
The other thing is we didn't talk about was Vectorize.
We have a native vector database on our network. And so if you're interested in, if you're storing embeddings, you're storing vectors, you have Vectorize, which is our database.
It's available now as well. So you can use it.
And the other thing we announced was AI Gateway, which allows you to sit in front of some AI service you're using and control costs, monitor how it's used, do caching.
So lots of things. Whether you are building something or using somebody else's API, whether you're building just from the building block of an entire model or you're building the building block of vectors, there's something for everybody in Wednesday's announcements.
It also shows how AI is present in different parts.
It's really amazing. You could see a lot of excitement in some of these announcements.
But this is also the start for people to build with AI on Cloudflare. But also we're expanding, like you were saying.
Yeah, absolutely. There was a large team in Lisbon for that Wednesday announcement, right?
There was. We were a bunch of people were gathered here in Lisbon.
Some of the work was done here. And so it was a good feeling in the office on Wednesday.
Oh, and by the way, we also on that day had the founder's letter.
Yeah, Matthew and Michelle write a letter to our customers, to our investors, to our users in general, about what they're thinking about.
And that really sums up a bit about connectivity, a cloud and everything we're doing with AI.
And at the end, there's this small poem. Yeah, that was really fun.
That was something Matthew asked me to do. I got a message from him saying, he had written this with Michelle and he said at the end, we were going to have a poem written by a model running on our network.
And I was like, OK, well, I think we can do that.
And I quickly asked Celso here in Portugal, I said, hey, is there a LLAMA endpoint I can use?
And he deployed. And there's a blog post where I talk about this.
He deployed a 14 line. This is the actual code. This is all you need to set up an endpoint that runs a HTTP request through LLAMA2.
And this is literally, this is actually a copy paste from my terminal.
I typed in curl to this thing with the prompt, write me a poem about the connectivity cloud.
And it spat it out in about six, five or six seconds.
I did a few more to give Matthew some choices.
Elizabethan English and also the Lord Byron style. Well, yeah, I wanted Lord Byron because I kind of like Lord Byron.
And I was wondering what he'd come up with in terms of the way in which he wrote about things.
It's a little bit darker than the other ones, the Byron style one.
It is light and dark, yeah. And then came Thursday.
And Thursday was a different day, in a sense. It was Databases Day, Hyperdrive.
So Hyperdrive is a way of taking a database that is hosted somewhere in the world and making it feel like it's everywhere in the world.
Because one of the problems you have is latency back to a database.
And we've done some stuff with smart placement, which allows us to move code around to be near your data sources, for example.
But there's more you can do, and in particular around query caching and around connection pooling that make databases that are in one place perform really well globally.
And that's what Hyperdrive is all about. So that's a really new, interesting product from Cloudflare.
And yeah, that was introduced on Thursday.
Equally, D1, which is our SQLite-based database, has gone to open beta now.
And so you can now use that. And there's a bunch of interesting features in there, including this lovely feature called Time Machine, which allows you to do rollbacks on the database as you need.
So there you have lots of database-y stuff.
The other thing that happened on Thursday was a bunch of worker stuff.
And I think the most significant was new workers pricing. And in particular, you will not pay if you're waiting on IO.
And a lot of workers scripts, they are waiting on IO.
Particularly, they're waiting for something on the network.
They might be calling someone else's API, for example. And the way in which most serverless stuff is charged is wall clock time.
Like, how long is your script executing?
And the thing is, if you're waiting for AI, your script is really doing nothing, right?
And so now we've simplified the pricing. And it's really clear.
And you will only pay when you're using the CPU significantly. So lots of cool stuff there if you're developing on Cloudflare in general.
Wednesday was all about AI.
But this was about in general. I was surprised to see people really engaging.
Hey, this is really better. And it makes a difference. Yes, absolutely.
I mean, connection pooling, caching, these things make a huge difference.
And if you get it built into the Cloudflare network, that works really well.
And then if you say, oh, you know what? You're not going to pay while you're waiting for something.
So the combination of these two things is actually really quite powerful.
Because if you think about, for example, suppose you use an external database provider, right?
On Cloudflare, you have some data in it. And you use workers to access that database.
Well, you want two things. You want it to be really, really fast, which is what Hyperdrive is going to give you, right?
But also, when you're waiting for the database query, because you've done an HTTP request to that third party, you shouldn't have to pay for that.
So you're going to get this lovely combination of using database incredible speed.
And whatever you're doing with workers, you're getting a situation where you're not paying for something where you're not doing work.
And I think that comes across quite clearly in the announcement.
And also, truthfully, people are happy when prices are lower than they're higher.
So when you're not paying for something, I'm not surprised there's happiness.
There's also reintroducing the Cloudflare Workers Playground.
There you go. What is this all about? Well, the Playground is so you can actually build and deploy something on Cloudflare, just trying it out.
And we've now incorporated VS Code.
So it just makes it a much better developer experience. If you want to just try a quick thing and deploy it on Cloudflare with a test endpoint, you can do it with the Playground.
Exactly. And here's the interface for that directly to explore.
And we don't have it here, but we also have a Friday announcements.
They are coming in a few hours. But when you'll see this, it's already out.
So it's a post -quantum. It's right on the security and privacy day that we call it in a sense, right?
Yes. There's a bunch of security and privacy stuff.
And then we should sort of roll in the Thursday announcement here because on Thursday, we announced this partnership with Microsoft to power their Edge secure network.
So Edge is their browser, and they have this sort of VPN service built into the browser, which you can use to give you privacy as you connect from your browser to wherever you're going.
And that's actually being done by the Cloudflare network.
We partner with Microsoft on that. And you sort of roll it into Friday where we've got a bunch of other stuff.
So we're going GA on post -quantum cryptography.
So if you are worried about the quantum computing future, which we should be, not panicking, but we should be worried about, we've long had this process of introducing post -quantum cryptography on our network.
And we're going to do that now with becoming GA.
We're also doing a thing called encrypted client hello.
Encrypted client hello is something that protects what's called the client hello, which is the beginning part of a secure connection on the network.
And that connection reveals information about what website you're going to.
And so we've long wanted to do this, and there's been a long-standing effort around it.
And so the encrypted client hello stuff will actually start rolling out, which means that an eavesdropper will not be able to tell what website you're going to anymore.
So that's happening. And that's completely about the privacy.
Totally about privacy on the Internet. Yes, yes. And also comes from our research team, like the work done over years, actually, right?
Yes, yes. Work done over years and years and standards bodies working with them to define how this is going to work and make sure it can really work properly.
And there's more of this.
There's more. Yes. We're going to finally announce that we are free of captures.
So it's the end for captures at Cloudflare. That was already in some services, right?
Yes. It was already around, but now it will be more general. And also, we're going to announce that turnstile is free, which is our capture alternative, and available for everybody, and no longer beta.
So it's out. And two other things which are really interesting.
One is a very machine learning story, which is about detecting zero days before zero day.
And this is about how the WAF team has been using machine learning to look for anomalous traffic and then detect things that will eventually have a CVE number associated with them, eventually going to be known attacks before they're even known.
And this is a very powerful use of the scale of Cloudflare's network is to be able to do this.
So yes, detecting zero days before zero day.
Very exciting story coming up. And lastly, this thing called Retroscan.
This Retroscan thing is really interesting, right? Which is that we have this email security service.
What this allows you to do is connect to your Office 365 and test out our service by going through the existing mail you have, and pulling out of it the things that your existing email security service missed.
And that's a really powerful way of seeing how good the service is, and kind of, you know, hopefully prove to the customer how good it is.
Especially threats, right? It's all about threats that were going on. The automatic services, like for email, sometimes don't work.
And this one, it's clearly showing you what's there that was missed, in a sense, right?
Exactly. So a lot of announcements.
And of course, anyone can see our hub, Cloudflare.com slash birthday dash week.
And there will be on Monday, by the time, you know, hopefully you've seen this, there will be a summary blog post as well, which summarizes all of the announces in the week.
So if you need to get a good idea. And of course, lots of stuff on Cloudflare TV as well.
Lots of people doing this stuff have been talking about it on Cloudflare TV.
So if you want to learn about it in a different way, come to Cloudflare TV.
Cloudflare TV has a bunch of segments over the week.
That's good to see. And also press releases, if you want to also check it out.
And past birthday weeks, because there's other birthday weeks you can explore.
So a lot to explore in our hub, for sure. Absolutely. Okay. And we did it.
30 minutes. We did it. Well, we missed a few. So first of all, to anybody who didn't talk about, we just couldn't fit them all in.
It'll be in the Week in Review on Monday.
I think there were 45 blog posts this week. I think so too.
Yeah. And it's a lot. And people can explore our blog and our hub, like I was saying, because there's more than we discussed.
More details, more things for sure to explore.
If someone needs to have one idea from this Birthday Week 2023 from Cloudflare, what would that be, you would say?
Connectivity Cloud. Go read the Connectivity Cloud blog post and start to think about what it means if you can connect everything together, be they people, applications, networks, with security, with privacy, with programmability.
Go read that one. Last but not least, let's give a shout out to everyone from Cloudflare that worked so hard on this week, from all sorts of teams, from design, marketing, engineering, so many teams that put a big effort to put this week through.
So many people.
I was fascinated yesterday. I was watching the company meeting we'd have on a Thursday, and there was a bunch of folks from the hardware team who put the hardware out, saying in order to install the GPUs in all the machines, they had to install a new fan to keep it cool.
In order to control that fan, they had to modify what's called OpenBMC.
And what's interesting about it is because we use the open source stuff, because we moved to OpenBMC, they were able to modify the software to control the fan, and then they did the physical work of installing GPUs.
You just miss the depth of things that have to be done to make something like this work.
Exactly. And it's all about also being motivated to ship fast and iterate quickly too, which is all about this week.
So things are out now, but that means also work, feedback, a lot of feedback from people.
So it's amazing to see something coming out.
And also after feedback, the iteration, it's continuing the work after it was shipped, in a sense.
So that's Birthday Week 2023 for all of us.
And that's it. Okay, thanks very much, Ralf. Thank you. Bye-bye. That's a wrap.