Start-up CloudFlare secures Web sites and improves loading times

A start-up called CloudFlare has launched a cloud-based firewall that also improves website performance

A start-up called CloudFlare has launched a cloud-based firewall that also improves website performance, and says it will release an enterprise version of its technology one year from now.

CloudFlare says traffic from Web sites that use its content delivery network "is routed through our intelligent global network," allowing faster page load times. "We also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources."

CloudFlare was founded in July 2009 and launched a public beta last week. The company offers a free service and "CloudFlare Pro," which starts at $20 per month and has more advanced performance improvements, security protection and analytics.

CEO Matthew Prince says CloudFlare is talking with potential enterprise users to understand their requirements, and plans to launch an enterprise version of the service in Q4 2011.

CloudFlare springs from a six-year-old project called Project Honey Pot, which began as a system to track how spammers harvested e-mail addresses. Thousands of Web sites from more than 185 countries eventually participated in Honey Pot, which still exists as an open source project.

Prince began CloudFlare while getting his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2009, where he and colleagues worked on developing a system that could stop Internet threats without introducing latency. Rather than making sites load slower, CloudFlare says it turned out that beta users saw load times improve by 30% because of  "the efficiency of CloudFlare's system, the layer of caching for static resources, and the fact that CloudFlare was taking so much garbage traffic off its users'sites."

"CloudFlare has been running a private beta since June and currently powers more than 1,000 websites," the company said in its launch press release. "CloudFlare's network has served more than 50 million page views since the beginning of the private beta."

CloudFlare won the Harvard Business School’s 2009 Business Plan Competition and has raised a little more than $2 million in Series A financing from Venrock and Pelion Venture Partners.

CloudFlare will have to compete against the likes of Akamai, but says its primary goal is to expand the market for CDN services by "bringing the performance and security tools previously available only to the Internet giants to anyone with a Web site."

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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