Cloudflare is giving developers programmable access to the network edge with new service

Ron Miller

As more computing moves to the edge, programmers are looking for ways to access computing power as close to their users as possible to reduce latency and increase performance. Today, Cloudflare announced Cloudflare Workers, a service that enables developers to write code to execute directly at the edge of the Cloudflare network.

Company co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince says that up until now the only way to get that kind of access was to be a Cloudflare employee. "Today, we are opening that up to anyone to run [their applications] on the edge, This opens up possibilities as to how customers use Cloudflare to make it configurable and programmable and makes it possible to develop apps that weren’t possible before," he explained.

As we see more applications like IoT, games and video that use a substantial amount of bandwidth, this service should help developers reduce performance issues and give them more granular control over where their code executes.

Prince pointed out that typically programmers can tweak performance on the front end where users access the application or in a central database on the back end, but they haven't been able to control where the code executes on the Cloudflare network until now.

"If you are a company developing products that are inherently local, we are going to be within one hop of a vast majority of your users and fully programmable to get your code to the edge," he said. He's not exaggerating about being within one hop. Cloudflare boasts more than 127 data centers worldwide and Prince said they are adding to that number on a regular basis.

The new service enables programmers to control the location of where their code executes with some Javascript code. What's more, when you update that code, it can be implemented almost instantly without requiring an app update by the end user or by the developer uploading their changes to their cloud provider.

Cloudflare, which has been mostly known for helping companies increase their website performance and security, is now aiming to put the power of its network to work for customers. This kind of programmability also means that you can access whatever level of resources you need to run your application and Cloudflare will handle all of the heavy lifting around load balancing and resource allocation for you, much like AWS or other cloud infrastructure providers.

The company, which was founded in 2009 and raised over $182 million, has a big vision to expand access to its network in the coming months and years. Prince said they passed $100 million revenue mark last year and now have 600 employees. As they add tools like Cloudflare Workers, it should open up new revenue possibilities and expand ways for the company to take advantage of the worldwide network it's built.

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