We are excited to announce that Cloudflare has joined the Microsoft 365 Networking Partner Program (NPP). Cloudflare One, which provides an optimized path for traffic from Cloudflare customers to Microsoft 365, recently qualified for the NPP by demonstrating that on-ramps through Cloudflare’s network help optimize user connectivity to Microsoft.
Connecting users to the Internet on a faster network
Customers who deploy Cloudflare One give their team members access to the world’s fastest network, on average, as their on-ramp to the rest of the Internet. Users connect from their devices or offices and reach Cloudflare’s network in over 250 cities around the world. Cloudflare’s network accelerates traffic to its final destination through a combination of intelligent routing and software improvements.
We’re also excited that, in many cases, the final destination that a user visits already sits on Cloudflare’s network. Cloudflare serves over 28M HTTP requests per second, on average, for the millions of customers who secure their applications on our network. When those applications do not run on our network, we can rely on our own global private backbone and our connectivity with over 10,000 networks globally to connect the user.
For Microsoft 365 traffic, we focus on breaking out traffic as locally and direct as possible to bring users to the productivity tools they need without slowing them down. Legacy security solutions can introduce additional hops or backhauling that slows down connectivity to tools like Microsoft 365. With Cloudflare One, we provide the flexibility to identify that traffic and give it the most direct path to Microsoft’s own network of service endpoints around the world.
Securing data and users with Cloudflare Zero Trust
With this setting, trusted traffic to Microsoft uses the most direct path without additional processing. However, the rest of the Internet should not be trusted. Cloudflare’s network also secures the connections, queries, and requests your teams make to protect organizations from attacks and data loss. We can do that without slowing users down because we deliver that security in the data centers at our edge.
SaaS applications delivered over the Internet can make any device with a browser into a workstation. However, that also means that those same devices can connect to the rest of the Internet. Attackers try to lure users into lookalike sites to steal credentials, or they attempt to have users download malware to compromise the device. Either type of attack can put the data stored in SaaS applications at risk.
Cloudflare helps organizations stop those types of attacks through a defense-in-depth strategy. First, Cloudflare starts by delivering a next-generation network firewall in our data centers, filtering traffic for connections to potentially dangerous destinations. Next, Cloudflare runs the world’s fastest DNS resolver and combines it with the data we see about the rest of the Internet to filter queries to phishing domains or sites that host malware.
Finally, Cloudflare’s Secure Web Gateway can inspect HTTP traffic for data loss, viruses, or can choose to isolate the browser for specific sites or entire categories. While Cloudflare’s network secures users from attacks on the rest of the Internet, Cloudflare One ensures that users have a direct, unfettered connection to the Microsoft 365 tools they need.
With traffic secured, Cloudflare can also give administrators visibility into the other applications used in their organization. Without any additional software or features, Cloudflare uses its Zero Trust security suite to analyze and categorize the requests to all applications in a comprehensive Shadow IT report. Administrators can mark applications as approved, unapproved, or unknown and pending investigation so for example Administrators could mark Microsoft 365 traffic as approved -- which is also the default setting in deployments that use the one-click enablement being released today.
In some cases, that visibility leads to surprises. Security and IT teams discover that users are doing work in SaaS platforms that have not been reviewed and approved by the organization. In those cases, teams can use Cloudflare’s Secure Web Gateway to block requests to those destinations or just to prevent certain types of activities like blocking file uploads to tools other than OneDrive. With Shadow IT, we can help teams that use Microsoft 365 ensure that data only stays in Microsoft 365.
Our participation in Microsoft 365 Networking Partner Program
Cloudflare has joined the Microsoft 365 Networking Partner Program (NPP). The program is designed to offer customers a set of partners whose deployment practices and guidance are aligned with Microsoft’s networking principles for Microsoft 365 to provide users with the best user experience. Microsoft established the NPP to work with networking companies for optimal connectivity to its service. We are excited to work with a partner whose global network and security principles align with ours.
Starting today, through Cloudflare One, organizations have the ability to ensure as direct a connection as possible for Microsoft 365 traffic. This allows our customers with our WARP client to benefit from a seamless user experience for Microsoft 365, while at the same time securing the rest of their traffic either to SaaS apps, on-prem apps or direct internet traffic through Cloudflare’s global network and security suite of products.
To do this all customers need to do is to enable the Microsoft 365 traffic optimization setting in their Cloudflare One dashboard. Via the setting even if Microsoft 365 connections are routed through the Cloudflare gateways, they are being handled with the least amount of additional overhead for example "Do not inspect" policy is automatically enabled.
It's very easy to enable with just a few clicks:
- Log into the Cloudflare for Teams dashboard.
- Go to Settings > Network.
- For Exclude Office 365 traffic and Bypass Office 365 traffic, click Create entries.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Cloudflare into the Networking Partner Program for Microsoft 365,” said Scott Schnoll, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft. “Cloudflare is a valued partner that is focused on helping Microsoft 365 customers implement the Microsoft 365 Network Connectivity Principles. Microsoft only recommends Networking Partner Program member solutions for connectivity to Microsoft 365.”
Your organization can start deploying Cloudflare One today alongside your existing Microsoft 365 usage. We’re excited to work with Microsoft to give your team members fast, reliable, and secure connectivity to the tools they need to do their jobs.