As a fellow startup, it's been really painful to watch the challenges Tumblr has gone though over the last 24 hours. With any sufficiently complex system, it is inevitable that unexpected problems will arise. It looks like Tumblr is getting back on their feet, but nothing feels worse than downtime.
That's why one of my favorite CloudFlare features is "Always Online." Think of it like insurance for your website. We use the natural pattern of search engine crawlers to build a cached copy of your site. If, for any reason, your web host or service provider goes down, we kick in to keep your site online. We can't perform magic and make a dynamic site fully functional when its backend is down, so things like shopping carts and other web applications will still cause an error. However, your basic content will stay up so your visitors can still find you and search engines will keep indexing you.
Some of my favorite messages to get from customers read like the following:
Just wanted to let you guys know how CloudFlare has saved our sales ... Our site was offline most of the afternoon due too many connections trying to connect at once ... but since our site was cached through CloudFlare's Always Online service it stayed available and customers still made it to us. If it was not for CloudFlare we would have missed sales. Thank you CloudFlare for keeping our business online and our sales coming when even our site is down!
That's pretty cool.
While anyone with their own domain can sign up for CloudFlare today, we're talking with several platform providers to bring the insurance of Always Online, and the other benefits CloudFlare offers, to even more sites. Our goal is simple: to make outages like the one Tumblr just lived through a thing of the past.