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Cloudflare Application Services for private networks: do more with the tools you already love


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Cloudflare Application Services for private networks: do more with the tools you already love

Cloudflare’s Application Services have been hard at work keeping Internet-facing websites and applications secure, fast, and reliable for over a decade. Cloudflare One provides similar security, performance, and reliability benefits for your entire corporate network. And today, we’re excited to announce new integrations that make it possible to use these services together in new ways. These integrations unlock operational and cost efficiencies for IT teams by allowing them to do more with fewer tools, and enable new use cases that are impossible without Cloudflare’s  “every service everywhere” architecture.

“Just as Canva simplifies graphic design, Cloudflare simplifies performance and security. Thanks to Cloudflare, we can focus on growing our product and expanding into new markets with confidence, knowing that our platform is fast, reliable, and secure.” - Jim Tyrrell, Head of Infrastructure, Canva

Every service everywhere, now for every network

One of Cloudflare’s fundamental architectural principles has always been to treat our network like one homogeneous supercomputer. Rather than deploying services in specific locations - for example, using some of our points of presence to enforce WAF policies, others for Zero Trust controls, and others for traffic optimization - every server runs a virtually identical stack of all of our software services. This way, a packet can land on any server and flow through a full set of security filters in a single pass, without having to incur the performance tax of hair pinning to multiple locations.

The software that runs on each of these servers is Linux-based and takes advantage of core concepts of the Linux kernel in order to create “wiring” between services. This deep dive on our DDoS mitigation stack explains just one example of how we use these tools to route packets through multiple layers of protection without sacrificing performance. This approach also enables us to easily add new paths for packets and requests, enabling deeper integrations and new possibilities for traffic routed to Cloudflare’s network from any source or to any destination. Let’s walk through some of these new use cases we’re developing for private networks.

Web Application Firewall for private apps with any off-ramp

Today, millions of customers trust Cloudflare’s WAF to protect their applications that are exposed to the public Internet - either fully public apps or private apps connected via Cloudflare Tunnel and surfaced with a public hostname. We’ve increasingly heard from customers that are excited about putting our WAF controls in front of any application with any traffic on or off-ramp, for a variety of reasons.

Some customers want to do this in order to enforce stronger Zero Trust principles: filtering all traffic, even requests sourced from within a “trusted” private network, as though it came from the open Internet. Other customers want to connect an entire datacenter or cloud property with a network-layer on-ramp like a GRE or IPsec tunnel or CNI. And yet others want to adopt the Cloudflare WAF for their private apps without specifying public hostnames.

By fully integrating Cloudflare’s WAF with the Cloudflare One dataplane, we’re excited to address all of these use cases: enabling customers to create WAF policies in-path for fully private traffic flows by building their private network on Cloudflare.

API security for internal APIs

After web applications, one of the next attack surfaces our customers turn to addressing is their public-facing APIs. Cloudflare offers services to protect public APIs from DDoS, abuse, sensitive data loss, and many other attack vectors. But security concerns don’t stop with public-facing APIs: as engineering organizations continue to embrace distributed architecture, multicloud and microsegmentation, CIOs and teams that provide internal services are also interested in securing their private APIs.

With Cloudflare One, customers can connect and route their entire private network through our global fabric, enabling private API traffic to flow through the same stack of security controls we’ve previously made available for public APIs. Networking and security teams will be able to apply the principles of zero trust to their private API traffic flow to help improve their overall security posture.

Global and local traffic management for private apps

So far, we’ve focused on the security controls customers have available to filter malicious traffic to their applications and APIs. But Cloudflare’s services don’t stop with security: we make anything connected to the Internet faster and more reliable. One of the key tools enabling this is our suite of load balancing services, which include application-layer controls for any origin server behind Cloudflare’s reverse proxy and network-layer controls for any IP traffic.

Customers have asked for even more flexibility and new ways to use our traffic management tools: the ability to create application-layer load balancing policies for traffic connected with any off-ramp, such as Cloudflare Tunnel for applications, GRE or IPsec tunnels or CNI for IP networks. They also are excited about the potential to extend load balancing policies into their local networks, managing traffic across servers within a datacenter or cloud property in addition to across multiple “global” locations. These capabilities, which will improve resiliency for any application - both by enforcing more granular controls for private apps and managing local traffic for any app - are coming soon; stay tuned for more updates.

Full-stack performance optimization for private apps

Cloudflare has always obsessed over the speed of every request routed through our network. We’re constantly developing new ways to deliver content closer to users, automatically optimize any kind of traffic, and route packets over the best possible paths, avoiding congestion and other issues on the Internet. Argo Smart Routing speeds up any reverse proxied traffic with application-layer optimizations and IP packets with intelligent decisions at the network layer, using Cloudflare’s extensive interconnectivity and global private backbone to make sure that traffic is delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible.

As we more deeply integrate Cloudflare’s private networking dataplane and our application services to realize the security and reliability benefits described above, customers will automatically be able to see the benefits of Argo Smart Routing at all layers of the OSI stack for any traffic connected to Cloudflare.

Private DNS for one-stop management of internal network resources

Cloudflare’s industry-leading authoritative DNS protects millions of public Internet domains. These can be queried by anyone on the public Internet, which is great for most organizations, but some want to be able to restrict this access. With our private DNS, customers will be able to resolve queries to private domains only when connected to the Zero Trust private network they define within Cloudflare. Because we’re building this using our robust authoritative DNS and Gateway filtering services, you can expect all the other goodness already possible with Cloudflare to also apply to private DNS: support for all common DNS record types, the ability to resolve to DNS queries to virtual networks with overlapping IPs, and all the other Zero Trust filtering control offered by Gateway DNS filtering. Consolidating management of external and internal DNS in one place, with the fastest response time, unparalleled redundancy, and advanced security already built in, will greatly simplify customers’ infrastructure and save time and operational overhead.

And more new use cases every day

We love hearing about new ways you’re using Cloudflare to make any user, application, or network faster, more secure, and more reliable. Get on the list for beta access to the new integrations described today and reach out to us in the comments if you’ve got more ideas for new problems you’d like to solve using Cloudflare.

We protect entire corporate networks, help customers build Internet-scale applications efficiently, accelerate any website or Internet application, ward off DDoS attacks, keep hackers at bay, and can help you on your journey to Zero Trust.

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Annika Garbers|@annikagarbers

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