On a rainy day back in March 2013, a small team from CloudFlare found ourselves bonding over a beer and a schnitzel in Karlsruhe, Germany — the home of 1&1 Internet. 1&1 is one of the leading hosting companies in the world, the second largest shared host by number of customers. The schnitzel and beer was the start of a great relationship that has turned into a terrific partnership. Starting today, 1&1 customers can enjoy a faster and more secure website with just a few clicks from their control panel.
1&1 customers who have been part of the beta release have already seen terrific results. For instance, 1&1 customer Patrick Kershner has experienced first-hand the performance improvements for his PC repair business hosted on 1&1. "Since implementing 1&1 CDN powered by CloudFlare, my customers have experienced significantly faster loading times. Everything from the phone number, links and other static information appears in seconds, which is really important to my customers," explained Kershner. That's what we like to hear!
CloudFlare has more than 4,000 hosting partners. In aggregate, more than half of the world's shared hosting clients are able to get the benefits of CloudFlare through their host's control panel.
1&1 took the extra step of becoming an Optimized Partner. This means that any 1&1 customer who signs up for CloudFlare through the 1&1 control panel gets the benefits of Railgun. CloudFlare's Railgun technology is pretty close to magic. It allows us to cache the static portions of dynamic content, making pages load in the blink of an eye.
Railgun is typically reserved for our Business and Enterprise plans. We frequently receive requests to make Railgun available at the Free and Pro levels. The challenge in doing so is technical. Railgun needs to be installed on a server near a CloudFlare customer's origin. We then hold a connection open to that server from many of our data centers around the world. If we did this for each of our 1.5 million customers the resource burden would be substantial. We therefore limit individual installations to only our top tiers of service.
Railgun for the Masses
Railgun is such a big performance boost, however, that we want to make it available to as many customers as possible. Our solution is to aggregate a number of customers behind a single hosting partner. The host can therefore run one or more Railgun servers which we can hold a connection open to. Each Railgun server can accelerate the performance for multiple websites.
Using hosts like 1&1 as an aggregation point for Railgun allows us to solve the technical problem and make the technology available to the widest possible audience. Any host can become an Optimized Partner at no cost. Once they have, we provide them Railgun for free and they can, in turn, offer it to all their customers. This is exactly what 1&1 has done and why their customers who sign up for CloudFlare will immediately get access to technology that previously had cost thousands of dollars a month.
1&1 joins a list of 250 other Optimized Partners that also allow their customers to get the benefits of Railgun. If your hosting provider don't yet offer Railgun, have them contact us and we'll get them setup as an Optimized Partner.
In the meantime, we're excited to welcome 1&1's 12 million customers to CloudFlare. Watch this space for news of other large hosting providers joining the CloudFlare family and offering their customers a faster, safer, more reliable hosted website.