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Cloudflare has been helping global organizations offer their users a consistent experience all over the world. This includes mainland China, a market our global customers cannot ignore but that continues to be challenging for infrastructure teams trying to ensure performance, security and reliability for their applications and users both in and outside mainland China. We are excited to announce China Express — a new suite of capabilities and best practices in partnership with our partners China Mobile International (CMI) and CBC Tech — that help address some of these performance challenges and ensure a consistent experience for customers and employees everywhere.
Cloudflare has been providing Application Services to users in mainland China since 2015, improving performance and security using in-country data centers and caching. Today, we have a presence in 30 cities in mainland China thanks to our strategic partnership with JD Cloud. While this delivers significant performance improvements, some requests still need to go back to the origin servers which may live outside mainland China. With limited international Internet gateways and restrictive cross-border regulations, international traffic has a very high latency and packet drop rate in and out of China. This results in inconsistent cached content within China and a poor experience for users trying to access dynamic content that requires frequent access to the origin.
Last month, we expanded our Cloudflare One, Zero Trust network-as-a-service platform to users and organizations in China with additional connectivity options. This has received tremendous interest from customers, so we’re looking at what else we could do to further improve the user experience for customers with employees or offices in China.
What is China Express?
China Express is a suite of connectivity and performance offerings designed to simplify connectivity and improve performance for users in China. To understand these better, let’s take an example of Acme Corp, a global company with offices in Shanghai and Beijing — with origin data centers in London and Ashburn. And let’s see how we can help their infrastructure teams better serve employees and users in mainland China.
China Express Premium DIA
Premium Dedicated Internet Access, is an optimized, high-quality public Internet circuit for cross-border connectivity provided by our local partners CMI and CBC Tech. With this service, traffic from mainland China will arrive at our partner data center in Hong Kong, using a fixed NAT IP. Customers do not worry about compliance issues because their traffic still goes through the public Internet with all regulatory controls in place.
Acme Corp can use Premium DIA to improve origin performance for their Cloudflare service in mainland China. Requests to the origin data centers in Ashburn and London would traverse the Premium DIA connection, which offers more bandwidth and lower packet loss resulting in more than a 60% improvement in performance.
Acme employees in mainland China would also see an improvement while accessing SaaS applications such as Microsoft 365 over the Internet when these apps are delivered from outside China. They would also notice an improvement in Internet speed in general.
China Express Private Link
While Premium DIA offers Acme performance improvements over the public Internet, they may want to keep some mission-critical application traffic on a private network for security reasons. Private link offers a dedicated private tunnel between Acme’s locations in China and their data centers outside of China. Private Link can also be used to establish dedicated private connectivity to SaaS data centers like Salesforce.
Private Link is a highly regulated area in China and depending on your use case, there might be additional requirements from our partners to implement it.
China Express Travel SIM
Acme Corp might have employees visiting China on a regular basis and need access to their corporate apps on their mobile devices including phones and tablets. Their IT teams not only have to procure and provision mobile Internet connectivity for their users, but also enforce consistent Zero Trust security controls.
Cloudflare is pleased to announce that the Travel SIM provided by Cloudflare’s partner CMI automatically provides network connectivity and can be used together with the Cloudflare WARP Client on mobile devices to provide Cloudflare’s suite of Zero Trust security services. Using the same Zero Trust profiles assigned to the user, the WARP client will automatically use the available 4G LTE network and establish a WireGuard tunnel to the closest Cloudflare data center outside of China. The data connection can also be shared with other devices using the hotspot function on the mobile device.
With the Travel SIM, users can enjoy the same Cloudflare global service as the rest of the world when traveling to China. And IT and security teams no longer need to worry about purchasing or deploying additional Zero Trust seats and device clients to ensure the employees’ Internet connection and the security policy enforcement.
China Express — Extending Cloudflare One to China
As mentioned in a previous blog post, we are extending Cloudflare One, our zero trust network-as-a-service product, to mainland China through our strategic partnerships. Acme Corp will now be able to ensure their employees both inside and outside China will be able to use consistent zero trust security policy using the Cloudflare WARP device client. In addition, they will be able to connect their physical offices in China to their global private WAN using Magic WAN with consistent security policies applied globally.
Get started today
Cloudflare is excited to work with our partners to help our customers solve connectivity and performance challenges in mainland China. All the above solutions are easy and fast to deploy and are available now. If you’d like to get started, contact us here or reach out to your account team.