Never forget Dejanews
You need to pay attention to the silent positioning of these companies to even guess at where they might go, so deals with things like archive.org may have some unseen substance to them that might only become obvious much later
Akamai has $3b in sales and an $18b market cap.
Cloudflare has $348m in sales and an $10.8b market cap.
Akamai is their maximum ceiling if they focus primarily on the CDN segment. Cloudflare is rapidly approaching their valuation ceiling if they stick to CDN as their core (and they'd have to start killing Akamai just to get there; the CDN business is increasingly a slower growth segment in the larger cloud industry).
Companies all around them in the cloud are growing faster, yet few are more important than Cloudflare. Zero question Cloudflare will continue to aggressively branch out, leveraging their critical positioning. In the not-so-distant future CDN will not be the center of their business. CDN is and will remain a springboard for them, a gateway drug, milk at the back of the grocery store.
I'm fairly critical of Cloudflare for a lot of resources, but one thing I think they did right was focus on the SMB market with plans that were actually affordable to the average business. They targeted customers that companies like Akamai pretended didn't exist. Even now they have the cheapest plan available, and once they consolidate the market even further they can start raising those prices.
If Cloudflare holds onto all of their already considerable number of customers, and then kills Akamai and somehow takes all of Akamai's business, the combination will be a mere 10% larger than Akamai already is now. There is your general indie ceiling in action, with all segments combined (and Cloudflare isn't going to monopolize the entire CDN business besides).
All you need to know to spot the independent CDN ceiling is that Cloudflare + Fastly + Akamai = $3.6 billion in sales (with the understanding that it's a slowly increasing ceiling, as the CDN market is still growing). The ceiling in that space for Cloudflare just can't realistically be much larger than that combined group and that's not much larger than where Akamai is already at. The only way this isn't the case, is if you project Cloudflare knocks off most competitors and takes the market (they can't, Amazon, Microsoft, Google among other giants, are standing in the way of that outcome).
It'll take Cloudflare a small lifetime to get to $3 billion in sales in the CDN space at the rate they're growing (they're adding ~$8m-$10m per quarter in growth (all of which obviously isn't CDN), so maybe it'll only take a few decades with some compounding). It took Akamai 22 years to get there with very high value customers and a pretty nice open field for many of those years.
Akamai in absolute dollar terms is growing faster than Cloudflare + Fastly combined. The CDN ceiling is actually running away from Cloudflare at present. That shouldn't be happening.
Cloudflare knows full well CDN isn't their brightest business future. It's why so much of their expansion effort is going into everything else. Given the way they price-structured their CDN from day one, Cloudflare has always known CDN was a lure and the upside was in sprawling outward from it. Come for the CDN, stay for the workers or whatever preferably higher margin thing we can sell you on. It's also why they're not interested in / worried about trying to make money on domain registrations, as with SSL before that. They'll happily murder the margins in foreign services all day long (areas where they don't compete, but there is margin to wipe out cost effectively, and with customers to lure in), so long as they can occasionally launch a new service where they have a distinct advantage and can convert their base to use it and increase total revenue per customer in the process.
What would be a better path: if Cloudflare could own a big part of Akamai's CDN business by trying to aggressively climb up the ladder from an unassailable price-value position Akamai doesn't want to go down to, like an ARM eating an Intel from the feet upward; or just leave the snoring giant alone to keeping snoozing in his enterprise tower while Cloudflare busies itself sprawling out in many directions, leveraging the volume of customers that Akamai doesn't want to (and or can't) go after because they're not viewed as lucrative enough? I think what Cloudflare can find outside of the CDN business, is likely to be more valuable than what's inside the CDN business, very long-term speaking.
And if you're Akamai and you let Cloudflare get far enough along with that sprawling (likely already too late), how about if they drop your CDN legs out from under you. Cloudflare builds out many other legs to stand on, so they flip the switch on the margin and kill the CDN market for the independents, as they were willing to do with domains and SSL. Free CDN, all tiers, all features. They can't do that today, they might be able to do it tomorrow. The CDN market becomes the SSL market, and as a totally free lure it accelerates a rush into Cloudflare's other more exclusive services (including for larger, lucrative enterprise customers). Surely this switch has been pondered inside of Cloudflare, road-mapped as a potential.
Yeah, and all the big five Cloud vendors: AWS, Azure, GCP, IBM, Oracle all have their own CDN solutions bundled. Hard to make a case to purchase separate CDN solutions.
And one of Cloudflare's selling points imo is the multi-cloud customers. Use AWS all the way but Cloudflare as your CDN and you could swtich to GCP seamlessly. Or route traffic based on pricing etc. I think you're right they will/have absolutely branch out from CDN but I think their CDN product is actually compelling especially to bigger companies that are more afraid of Amazon that they are of Cloudflare.
(Other interesting point - it's worth noting that IBM's CDN is essentially white labeled Cloudflare).
Imagine a small server in every cell tower, with locally-cached maps/Wikipedia/latest movies.
Some communication couldn't be cached (e.g. real-time video calls), but a lot of broadcast media could be. Of course there are copyright implications, and it might require partnering with Netflix or others.
The quick load times would be great for users, and the reduced load on the backbone would be good for the telecom companies.
If you'd like me to chat to some friends in telcos in New Zealand about this, drop me an email. It's not my job now (I'm in IoT) but I know who to talk to if you'd like to get this kind of thing moving.
As Cloudflare is deanonymizing TOR users pretty much with every website that's hosted on it, I fear they are abusing that power once again to deanonymize users of the web archive.
Cloudflare always claims it's not their issue and that it's a webmaster setting with the shitty captchas and Google's infamous Prism-sponsored PREFS cookie - but to be honest they should just not have implemented it in the first place if privacy was a core value of their company.
The "DDoS" protection basically fingerprints a machine and user inside an encrypted HTTPS connection; which makes the encryption tunnel itself obsolete.
They do though. That's why people pay them lots of money to do those two things. Not sure what part you think is "pretending"?
Paying them today to speed up a couple of websites while protecting them.
They rock at making big things possible for very small companies.
I think we will see selective removal of certain content.
SAME. From the title, I assumed the Wayback Machine would be using Cloudflare. Nice prank, boys.
We tell archive.org about the URI, they crawl it. They handle robots.txt.
In my experience, the site owner must email archive.org support to be excluded from its crawler and archiving.
The original Always Online infra was long unloved and probably kept on life support far too long for lack of want to deprecate an early feature.
How does what you do now contradict what you will do in the future? What legal assurances are there that you won't do hat when you leave? (See Facebook/Oculus "no Facebook account promise")
Why don't they skip this step and just keep what they have now, then? No one seems to be up in arms that they currently provide their customers offline caching...
"Always Online" now can mean "Archive Forever" - even when a site is pre-launch.
Benevolence is a continuum.
EDIT: Internet Archive started ignoring robots.txt in 2017: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/internet-archive-rob...
It says Internet Archive had already started ignoring robots.txt on US government websites.
Now (since 2017) they ignore it on all websites.
At least by FAANG standards, Cloudflare stands out to me as one of the good guys.
So far, I personally think most people would say they've been mostly benevolent.
But they are a public company, and a new CEO can have different priorities.
For example, (fairly or not) the public perception of Google has slowly been diminishing over time.
Any reality that becomes more adjacent in possibility-space today, is better conceived as the seed of a future you might find yourself living in. Most any protective institution is just a set of measures working against this process -- moving things away from us in possibility-space
So worrying about this stuff is fair game. The only way I'd not worry, is if there was a complementary protective measure that protected us from the future we don't want. But that wasn't part of the announcement, so we're probably all a little bit less secure in getting the world we want. (EDIT: Though maybe funding archive.org would count as that...?)
That reminds me a bit on how Google "funds" Mozilla. Not the same, but when dealing with the devil...
Or, to put that another way: if you can charge [infamous politician] a million dollars for a fancy-but-useless painting, you absolutely should do so. Now you have a million dollars; they're out a million dollars; and all they have is a painting!
Extracting money from bad sources is good as long as you absolutely positively don’t extract anything else. That’s hard to do in any circumstance. However, in this situation I think it’s fine and worth it.
Mozilla is a good case study in this: they are financially dependent on Google money to continue browser development. Google hasn't actually intervened in their affairs a whole lot. However, they could, which is why they're going through all sorts of self-inflicted harm trying to get away from their business of selling a browser default to a search engine.
Public companies are even worse, because what they are looking for isn't money, it's more money, or "growth". This is why a lot of American media companies suddenly got really quiet about certain kinds of atrocities committed by certain governments. If you call the devil out on concentration camps full of Uighurs, then maybe he doesn't buy your paintings anymore, and then you're out of the painting biz.
Basically, this is the other side of the coin to the idea that iterating the Prisoner’s Dilemma gets you the potential for tit-for-tat, and thereby cooperation under expectation of tit-for-tat. In this case, “defecting” against a devil is good — but, just like in the traditional Prisoner’s Dilemma, it’s only practical to defect if the scenario is one-shot.
They're denying access to no-JS users to many sites.
I'm just a happy Cloudflare customer.
On one hand, as a website operator, I want to prevent DDOS, spam etc... for my website. I can implement these solutions myself and do a bad job, or I can use Cloudflare that solves most of then. It's probably going to rule out some of the users as yourself - which is a shame. But until there's a better way to know that a visitor from the internet is not trying to attack the website, I'd have to use something like Cloudflare.
On the other hand, it's not like it's that hard to leave Cloudflare for me - so if there's a better alternative without causing legitimate users pain, I'd be happy to jump on board.
It's about cutting off access to a small segment of users just because it is easier that way.
I think that, similar to wheelchair access, we will continue to push for access to all devices and users as much as possible.
This attitude of "it's just 1%" or "it's just 0.1%" will become just as unacceptable as saying "well, there are only 3 people who need access ramps out of 30, so they need to suck it up and deal with it."
It's up to you which side you want to be on.
archive.org is exactly that. With rather poor performance no less.
And CF have access to decrypted SSL for many sites. Stuff like passwords, personal details, keys and tokens.
I point this out because I think it's an anti-privacy "feature" and I wish CF would stop.
I think it's a net win for everyone involved, personally.
Are you talking about countries with under-developed internet infrastructure? That includes swaths of the US....
We can’t trust that they’ll always make good decisions.
I’m glad that the Internet Archive is independent and hope it always remains that way.
In other words, they have a history of clearly, unambiguously showing themselves to be unapologetic assholes.
I get it, nobody wants to defend badthink, but it's a hell of a lot easier philosophically to defend all political speech regardless of content than it is to try to pick and choose and make some moral case.
Cloudflare says that it's "free speech" for their customers to claim to be Adobe offering a "Flash Updater", or for their customers to claim to be Bank of America.
That is how evil Cloudflare is - they allow clear and unambiguous crime for pennies.
The number of things that started out with those words and then went on to be come huge problems is non-trivial I am sure
But I want to believe...
Then suddenly the web is a much smaller place.
I also recommend using Internet archive addon in browser. Clicking on it would archive the website. That way, you can archive pages you visit.
Ideally it would be a non-profit that does it, but as a last resort CF is one of the few companies I'd trust to do it right and do it transparently.
I'm a privacy concerned vpn user and in my daily browsing I have to deal dozens of times a day with cloudflare captchas or in some cases with cloudflare total blocking.
(For others who need to opt out, https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/articles/200168436-U... describes how to disable "Always Online". There doesn't seem to be a way to turn off just the information sharing.)
I was hopeful, but after reading this:
> “The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has an impressive infrastructure that can archive the web at scale,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare. “By working together, we can take another step toward making the Internet more resilient by stopping server issues for our customers and in turn from interrupting businesses and users online.”
It's plain to see that this is a money-making venture for Cloudflare.
While I do like the added functionality, I personally can't see how this 'improves' the Wayback Machine. It's just going to place more load on it.
It's one thing to use CF's Always-On service - you're a customer, you know you can remove your data from it. It's another to get the Internet Archive involved, who may or may not remove your data, and may or may not honor robots.txt.
Here's a more detailed description of the service from Cloudflare support pages: https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/articles/200168436
Though, it would be nice if someone invented technology, that can erase all the 404 pages and redirects, that are archived, as well, as soon the page goes offline. Maybe a job for AI?
Keep historical revisionism out of archive.org.
I don't feel comfortable with their ability to switch off parts of the internet, nor in this case, that they have their hands near what is preserved for posterity.
As they say: "Cloudflare has become core infrastructure for the Web, and we are glad we can be helpful in making a more reliable web for everyone." They are indeed powerful.
I'm concerned that they are becoming gatekeepers to information, under the guise of providing a better internet service. They are able to operate at a level deeper than the odious restrictions youtube, facebook et al enforce on free speech.
CF is a level deeper than that. This is a company that can effectively shut down the internet for companies and individuals. And now they are involved with archive.org? Should we be concerned about online historical revisionism as that relationship matures?
I feel uncomfortable that CF seems to be positioning itself as a guardian to all information - not at an application level, but at an architectural level.
Cloudflare is shaping up to be a key tool that an authoritarian government requires. And I'm concerned about it!
"COVID tests: great, until you find a positive result"
Yes, this would prevent most order-confirmation pages or otherwise private must-be-logged-in pages from being archived, but it will expose presumed-private URLs that are thought to be unique (tracking numbers, files uploaded with unique names, unique/private image urls that are otherwise publicly accessible)
If you've made efforts to your systems to prevent enumeration-attacks, this could partly bypass them.
I mean, these deals make them look cool and altruistic, but what happens when BigCompany offers them enough money to sell?
The next step would be for Cloudflare to point to Archive.org Wayback links when an origin isn't available (similar to browser extensions that point to Archive.org when sites 404 or are down, but in Cloudflare's core).
Cool stuff. Thanks Cloudflare folks.
It wouldn't be fair to use archive.org's community-sponsored resources for propping up businesses which are too cheap to pay for proper IT :)