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Marcelo Affonso and Rebecca Weekly: why we joined Cloudflare


6 min read
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Marcelo Affonso (VP of Infrastructure Operations) and Rebecca Weekly (VP of Hardware Systems) recently joined our team. Here they share their journey to Cloudflare, what motivated them to join us, and what they are most excited about.

Marcelo Affonso - VP of Infrastructure Operations

I am thrilled to join Cloudflare and lead our global infrastructure operations. My focus will be building, expanding, optimizing, and accelerating Cloudflare’s fast-growing infrastructure presence around the world.

Recently, I have found myself reflecting on how central the Internet has become to the lives of people all over the world. We use the Internet to work, to connect with families and friends, and to get essential services. Communities, governments, businesses, and cultural institutions now use the Internet as a primary communication and collaboration layer.

But on its own, the Internet wasn’t architected to support that level of use. It needs better security protections, faster and more reliable connectivity, and more support for various privacy preferences. What’s more, those benefits can’t just be available to large businesses. They need to be accessible to a full range of communities, governments, and individuals who now rely on the Internet. And they need to be accessible in various ways to align with people’s diverse needs and priorities.

My own personal and professional experiences make these challenges particularly interesting. On a personal level, I was born in Brazil, immigrated to Canada in my late teens, and I have been very fortunate to live and work in seven different countries across North America, South America, and Europe. In embracing all of that change, I’ve learned the importance of being flexible and adaptable — since an approach that may work in one context or culture, may not be relevant in a different one.

On the professional side, I’ve spent much of my career in logistics operations, supply chain management, and cloud infrastructure — most recently at Amazon. After nearly a decade managing Amazon fulfillment operations across the UK, Italy, and Canada, I shifted to Amazon Web Services. There I supported the organization’s second-largest region globally, delivering operational excellence for a rapidly expanding data center portfolio spanning tens of thousands of computer racks. I’ve found great personal fulfillment in figuring out how to deliver and operate infrastructure and services at a massive scale. So to the broader need I mentioned, creating a safer, faster, more private Internet for the whole world is an absolutely fascinating challenge.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to participate in the growth and expansion of Amazon. But reflecting on all the Internet's needs and challenges, I realized I wanted in my next role to be able to make a big impact on those areas on the broadest possible scale.

With that in mind, Cloudflare was the obvious — and the most exciting — next step.

Cloudflare is the world's most connected cloud network, providing security, speed, reliability, and privacy to anything connected to the Internet — including websites, APIs, corporate networks, and distributed workforces. Our network sits within 50 milliseconds of 95% of the Internet-connected population globally. We’ve become the most trusted, efficient, and relied-upon network on the Internet. For someone interested in helping support the Internet’s role in our daily lives — and in the exciting logistical challenges which enable all of that — there’s no better place to be.

When I met the Cloudflare team, I was immediately drawn to the incredible pace at which they innovate and operate, as well as to their ambitious goal to help build a better Internet. Cloudflare as a whole is very principled in its approach to democratize technologies and operate with a global mindset and focus on adoption to the latest standards. I found this quite refreshing. Similarly, I appreciated the open communication and transparency culture both within and outside the organization, as well as the desire across the teams to continuously learn and adapt.

In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve already started working on many exciting aspects of our network’s growth. We recently announced the addition of 18 new cities to our network, expanding our scope to over 270 cities globally. We’re also growing the number of Cloudflare Network Interconnect (CNI) locations across the world, to make it even easier for more customers to connect to our network.

In addition, I’m particularly thrilled to work with our team to deploy Cloudflare R2 Storage and to lead the expansion of Cloudflare for Offices, which provides office traffic a direct connection to our network and Cloudflare services.

It’s an honor to join this talented, innovative, and ambitious team and to be part of Cloudflare’s important mission. I feel extremely fortunate to join the company at such a critical period of growth, and I am excited to help Cloudflare — and the Internet as a whole — realize their full potential.

Rebecca Weekly - VP of Hardware Systems

I am overjoyed to join Cloudflare and apply my experience in semiconductor and system design and verification to design the next generation of solutions that will power the Internet.

I have happily spent my whole career in hardware because, to put it simply, integrated chips power the world. I’ve been fortunate to contribute to a variety of problems and use cases, including accelerating gas distribution models, improving graphics chips for gaming systems, validating ASICs targeting infrastructure and application acceleration, and designing transistor CPUs and their systems for operations at hyperscale.

Over the course of that journey, I’ve realized that we are entering the “new golden age of computer architecture” as defined by John Hennessy and David Patterson in their February 2019 address to the Association for Computing Machinery. To summarize their nearly two hour lecture is impossible, but I’ll risk it because it was a major influence on me making the leap to Cloudflare.

Hennessy and Patterson argue that evolving computational efficiency in light of the end of Dennard scaling and the slowing of Moore’s Law requires the industry to address the inherent inefficiencies in general purpose ARM- and x86-based processors. They highlight three opportunities:

  1. High-level language performance optimization on existing infrastructure (we have optimized for decades for developer efficiency at the risk of massive inefficiencies in traditional CPU architectures)
  2. Domain-specific architectures which yield efficiencies through optimizing parallelism in the hardware for a specific computational domain.
  3. The hybrid case of domain-specific languages yielding opportunities for domain specific architectures, in order to accelerate infrastructure efficiency holistically.

When considering my next step, I knew I wanted to help shape Hennessy and Patterson’s “golden age”. That meant being closer to application developers and working hand-in-hand with them to enable a greater architectural optimization than either of us would be able to achieve on our own. The trouble is that such opportunities are increasingly rare. In many companies, hardware and software have been abstracted thanks to the rise of hyperscale cloud providers.

That’s exactly where Cloudflare comes in.

Cloudflare is helping build a better Internet. We’re doing so by combining deep software expertise — i.e., the security, performance, reliability, and privacy services our customers use — with equivalent focus on hardware — i.e. the growth and increasing efficiency of the global network on which those services live. And we’re doing so on the broadest and most inclusive scale possible — serving everyone from large enterprises to mom-and-pop shops, often using open-source software and solutions. This openness has led to us serving over 32 million HTTP requests per second on average — a significant fraction of the entire Internet.

For someone interested in exploring the future of architectural optimization through the intersection of software and hardware, being able to do it with the whole Internet as your sandbox is the ultimate opportunity.

From my experience as the Chairperson of the Open Compute Project Foundation, where we drive hyperscale innovation from the cloud to the edge, I felt great synergy leading the Hardware Systems team here at Cloudflare. Together we are identifying, developing, delivering, and scaling the hardware systems that benefit the entire Internet, and you can bet we will enthusiastically share our findings to help shape the future of this industry.

We are only getting started…

Come join us in helping build a better Internet. If you want to learn more about working at Cloudflare or explore the many career opportunities we have around the world, check out the links below.

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Marcelo Affonso|@marceloaffonso
Rebecca Weekly|@rebeccalipon

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