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Wow, That's Fast! Instant DNS Updates and More...

by Matthew Prince.

Wow, That's Fast! Instant DNS Updates and More...

At CloudFlare, we're constantly trying to make things faster. To give you a sense, at our current scale, for every 1 millisecond (1/1000th of a second) we remove from requests through our network, we save a lifetime (70 years) worth of time every year. You can get a sense of this scale just by staring at the roughly realtime stats on our network map, which I find literally mindboggling.

With our new SSL rollout we worked hard to improve how some processes updated. In order to get certificates deployed to our network as quickly as possible, we built a new, scalable, key-value based file system we call KTFS. It allows us to make a change in one location and have it branch out to our entire network following a tree-like path, much like how BitTorrent distributes files. That means when you sign up for a paid plan on CloudFlare, your SSL will work network-wide less than a minute after the certificate is issued. And KTFS is built to gracefully scale as we continue to add new data centers -- and we're planning on adding lots of data centers.

In the process of building this for SSL provisioning, what we realized was that KTFS also gave us the ability to make other processes much faster and more robust as well. With little fanfare, a few weeks ago we turned it on so that DNS updates are pushed out more quickly. Where the process previously took about five minutes -- which was pretty good compared with other massively distributed DNS systems -- we're now down to less than a minute from when you make a change to your DNS settings to when it is live across the 12 (soon to be 14) data centers in our Anycasted DNS network.

Like SortaSQL and some of the other core technologies we've developed, KTFS provides a platform that allows us to continue to grow CloudFlare's platform to help power a faster, safer Internet for everyone.

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