2020 has been a historic year that will forever be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past six months, we have seen societies, businesses, and entire industries unsettled. The situation at Cloudflare has been no different. And while this pandemic has affected each and every one of us, we here at Cloudflare have not forgotten what our mission is: to help build a better Internet.

We have expanded our global network to 206 cities across more than 100 countries. This is in addition to completing 40+ datacenter expansion projects and adding over 1Tbps in dedicated “backbone” (transport) capacity connecting our major data centers so far this year.

Pandemic times means new processes

There was zero chance that 2020 would mean business as usual within the Infrastructure department. We were thrown a curve-ball as the pandemic began affecting our supply chains and operations. By April, the vast majority of the world’s passenger flights were grounded. The majority of bulk air freight ships within the lower deck (“belly”) of these flights, which saw an imbalance between supply and demand with the sudden 74% decrease in passenger belly cargo capacity relative to the same period last year.

We were fortunate to have existing logistics partners who were involved in medical equipment distribution, subsequently offering to help us maintain our important global infrastructure cargo flows. In one example, our logistics partner Expeditors , already operating with limited staff to limit the risk of exposure, went above and beyond securing us space on  “freight only” converted passenger aircraft flights from  Taipei.

Six new cities

New cities represent more than a new dot on the map for Cloudflare. These cities represent unique partnerships with ISPs all over the world which allow Cloudflare to bring the Internet closer to an ISP’s end-users and increase our edge compute capabilities in the region.

When we enter into a partnership with an ISP it is also a commitment to that ISP, and to our customers, to increase the security, performance, and reliability of the more than 27 million Internet properties on our network. These accomplishments would not be possible if not for our partners and the individuals who make up Cloudflare’s Infrastructure and Network Operations teams.

Of the six new cities we’ve turned up this year five represent new countries for Cloudflare, including one very close to my heart.

  • Vientiane, Laos*. Our first data center in Laos, a country where accessible high-speed Internet has only been available for a few decades. In the last two decades, there has been an exponential growth of Laos Internet users increasing from just under 6,000 residents in 2000 to over 1,000,000 residents when 4G LTE service launched in 2015.
  • Tegucigalpa, Honduras*. The nation's capital, Tegucigalpa is the most populated city in Honduras. This also marks our first data center in-country. Today 41% of the population are active Internet users which is the lowest of all countries in Central America and we are excited to help bring faster and more reliable Internet to the people of Honduras.
  • Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Our second data center in Malaysia is located in the second-largest city in the country. Johor Bahru serves as a gateway between Singapore and Malaysia and we are proud to be a participant on the Johor Bahru Internet Exchange (JBIX), the second IX to launch in Malaysia. Turning up this site was a challenge for our deployment partners, who went above and beyond to install and provision during the beginning stages of nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns.
  • Monrovia, Liberia*. Our 15th data center on the continent of Africa shares a history with the United States. Liberia as we know it today first began as a settlement for freed slaves from the United States almost 200 years ago. Monrovia, the nation’s capital, was the largest settlement and today makes up roughly one-third of the population of Liberia.
  • Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei*. Although Brunei is the second smallest country in Southeast Asia by land area (only behind Singapore), and the smallest country by population, Brunei is currently ranked 4th in the world for the highest share of social media users coming in at 94% of the population.
  • Paramaribo, Suriname*. While Suriname is one of the smallest countries in South America it is one of the most diverse countries in all of the Americas. 80% of the country is covered by tropical rainforest and 70% of the nation's population resides in just two urban districts which only account for 0.5% of the country's total land. This also happens to be my home country where my entire family is from, and where I was born.

* = New Country for Cloudflare’s global network

Cloudflare network expansion hits home for our team

50th-percentile performance improvement versus other edge networks when Surinamese traffic started being served in-country. // Source: Cedexis

When I shared the news with my Surinamese family that Cloudflare had turned up a data center in Suriname they were extremely proud. More importantly, they are excited at the opportunity to see increased performance and reliability on the Internet. When my family immigrated to the United States more than 30 years ago, one of the hardships of establishing this new life was communicating with loved ones back home.

Even in the advent of global communication via social media, challenges still persist. Having access to reliable and secure Internet is still a luxury in many parts of the world. Suriname is no different. For many years my family relied on wireless carriers for reliable Internet connectivity. That has changed significantly in the last decade with improvements to the Internet’s infrastructure in Suriname. One big challenge is the physical distance between the Internet users in Suriname and where the content (servers) are located.

When we partner with a local ISP in-country it allows us to shorten that distance and bring the Internet closer. I am proud to work for a company that is helping deliver better access to  Internet users like my family in Suriname and millions of others around the world.

Cloudflare is still growing, even when everyone is working from home

During these times communicating over the Internet has become essential for everyone. As more businesses and people are shifting to Internet-based operations our work is more critical than ever. We’re only halfway through the year and have a lot more work to do. This means we are continuing to grow our company by hiring and offering fully remote onboarding. Check out our careers page for more information on full-time positions and internship roles across the globe.