Cloudflare for Platforms, launching this week, is a new set of tools aimed at making all web applications programmable for external developers.
Cloudflare for Platforms would allow developers to add functionality to third-party software applications or SaaS offerings. This could be as simple as setting up an email trigger for when a sale goes through your e-commerce provider, or it could mean more complex customisations or integrations based on unique business requirements.
But instead of entering into a drawn-out feature request process with the third-party provider, Cloudflare for Platforms would allow developers to add the functionality directly.
Cloudflare has been expanding its reach into the developer community since the debut of its Cloudflare Workers serverless platform in 2017. Cloudflare Workers has been followed by several developer tools, including the Cloudflare R2 object storage service, which competes with Amazon S3 by not charging for data egress.
“Cloudflare built our serverless computing platform, Cloudflare Workers, to give all of our customers the ability to program the way Cloudflare worked for themselves,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare. “Now we’re taking this formula and helping any organisation do the same, using the scale, speed, and flexibility of Cloudflare’s global network.”
Cloudflare for Platforms effectively builds on the Cloudflare Workers platform, which allows for safe, serverless deployment of code across Cloudflare’s edge network.
“Cloudflare Workers was our attempt to solve this ourselves and handle requests at scale running on code we don’t understand,” Cloudflare CTO John Graham-Cumming told InfoWorld.
“We achieve that through layers of sandboxing, decisions around what APIs are and are not available in certain programming languages, and making sure we are on top of the latest vulnerabilities. This is all core to what we do.”
By pairing this with a new open source API standard, which brings together the Service Worker API with Deno and Node.js, Cloudflare effectively wants to make any application on the internet more programmable and customisable.
Forrester senior analyst Andrew Cornwall says that while “Cloudflare has faced some criticism around vendor lock-in” in the past, it could be about to change that “by proposing an open standard for server-side APIs in the same way that browsers have an open standard for client-side APIs.”
“Doing this should let developers target Node.js, Deno and Cloudflare Workers without changing their code — freeing developers from having to make an early decision about environment that could have unexpected consequences,” he told InfoWorld.
Of course, the owners of these platforms will have to “decide which APIs or the events they open up to allow these kinds of customisations, but after that, a lot of code becomes glue code,” Cloudflare's Graham-Cumming said. “I think if you enable it to be easy, people will do things you don’t expect.”
“The big shift here is that Cloudflare makes it a lot easier for companies to build scalable platforms that enable companies to manage their customer’s applications. This impacts industry categories from commerce, to gaming, to even the metaverse,” Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research, told InfoWorld.