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Cloudflare partners to simplify China connectivity for corporate networks


5 min read

This post is also available in 简体中文.

Cloudflare partners to simplify China connectivity for corporate networks

IT teams have historically faced challenges with performance, security, and reliability for employees and network resources in mainland China. Today, along with our strategic partners, we’re excited to announce expansion of our Cloudflare One product suite to tackle these problems, with the goal of creating the best SASE experience for users and organizations in China.

Cloudflare One, our comprehensive SASE platform, allows organizations to connect any source or destination and apply single-pass security policies from one unified control plane. Cloudflare One is built on our global network, which spans 275 cities across the globe and is within 50ms of 95% of the world’s Internet-connected population. Our ability to serve users extremely close to wherever they’re working—whether that’s in a corporate office, their home, or a coffee shop—has been a key reason customers choose our platform since day one.

In 2015, we extended our Application Services portfolio to cities in mainland China; in 2020, we expanded these capabilities to offer better performance and security through our strategic partnership with JD Cloud. Today, we’re unveiling our latest steps in this journey: extending the capabilities of Cloudflare One to users and organizations in mainland China, through additional strategic partnerships. Let’s break down a few ways you can achieve better connectivity, security, and performance for your China network and users with Cloudflare One.

Accelerating traffic from China networks to private or public resources outside of China through China partner networks

Performance and reliability for traffic flows across the mainland China border have been a consistent challenge for IT teams within multinational organizations. Packets crossing the China border often experience reachability, congestion, loss, and latency challenges on their way to an origin server outside of China (and vice versa on the return path). Security and IT teams can also struggle to enforce consistent policies across this traffic, since many aspects of China networking are often treated separately from the rest of an organization’s global network because of their unique challenges.

Cloudflare is excited to address these challenges with our strategic China partners, combining our network infrastructure to deliver a better end-to-end experience to customers. Here’s an example architecture demonstrating the optimized packet flow with our partners and Cloudflare together:

Acme Corp, a multinational organization, has offices in Shanghai and Beijing. Users in those offices need to reach resources hosted in Acme’s data centers in Ashburn and London, as well as SaaS applications like Jira and Workday. Acme procures last mile connectivity at each office in mainland China from Cloudflare’s China partners.

Cloudflare’s partners route local traffic to its destination within China, and global traffic across a secure link to the closest available Cloudflare data center on the other side of the Chinese border.

At that data center, Cloudflare enforces a full stack of security functions across the traffic including network firewall-as-a-service and Secure Web Gateway policies. The traffic is then routed to its destination, whether that’s another connected location on Acme’s private network (via Anycast GRE or IPsec tunnel or direct connection) or a resource on the public Internet, across an optimized middle-mile path. Acme can choose whether Internet-bound traffic egresses from a shared or dedicated Cloudflare-owned IP pool.

Return traffic back to Acme’s connected network location in China takes the opposite path: source → Cloudflare’s network (where, again, security policies are applied) → Partner network → Acme local network.

Cloudflare and our partners are excited to help customers solve challenges with cross-border performance and security. This solution is easy to deploy and available now - reach out to your account team to get started today.

Enforcing uniform security policy across remote China user traffic

The same challenges that impact connectivity from China-based networks reaching out to global resources also impact remote users working in China. Expanding on the network connectivity solution we just described, we’re looking forward to improving user connectivity to cross-border resources by adapting our device client (WARP). This solution will also allow security teams to enforce consistent policy across devices connecting to corporate resources, rather than managing separate security stacks for users inside and outside of China.

Acme Corp has users that are either based in or traveling to China for business and need to access corporate resources that are hosted beyond China, without necessarily being physically in an Acme office in order to enable this access. Acme uses an MDM provider to install the WARP client on company-managed devices and enroll them in Acme’s Cloudflare Zero Trust organization. Within China, the WARP client utilizes Cloudflare’s China partner networks to establish the same Wireguard tunnel to the nearest Cloudflare point of presence outside of mainland China. Cloudflare’s partners act as the carrier of our customers’ IP traffic through their acceleration service and the content remains secure inside WARP.

Just as with traffic routed via our partners to Cloudflare at the network layer, WARP client traffic arriving at its first stop outside of China is filtered through Gateway and Access policies. Acme’s IT administrators can choose to enforce the same, or additional policies for device traffic from China vs other global locations. This setup makes life easier for Acme’s IT and security teams - they only need to worry about installing and managing a single device client in order to grant access and control security regardless of where employees are in the world.

Cloudflare and our partners are actively testing this solution in private beta. If you’re interested in getting access as soon as it’s available to the broader public, please contact your account team.

Extending SASE filtering to local China data centers (future)

The last two use cases have focused primarily on granting network and user access from within China to resources on the other side of the border - but what about improving connectivity and security for local traffic?

We’ve heard from both China-based and multinational organizations that are excited to have the full suite of Cloudflare One functions available across China to achieve a full SASE architecture just a few milliseconds from everywhere their users and applications are in the world. We’re actively working toward this objective with our strategic partners, expanding upon the current availability of our application services platform across 45 data centers in 38 unique cities in mainland China.

Talk to your account team today to get on the waitlist for the full suite of Cloudflare One functions delivered across our China Network and be notified as soon as beta access is available!

Get started today

We’re so excited to help organizations improve connectivity, performance and security for China networks and users. Contact your account team today to learn more about how Cloudflare One can help you transform your network and achieve a SASE architecture inside and outside of mainland China.

If you'd like to learn more, join us for a live webinar on Dec 6, 2022 10:00 AM PST through this link where we can answer all your questions about connectivity in China.

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Kyle Krum|@KyleKrum
Annika Garbers|@annikagarbers

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