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NaaS specialist Cloudflare aims to be Africa’s ‘go-to’ DX services firm

NASDAQ-listed Networks-as-a-Service (NaaS) and software specialist firm Cloudflare is up against a plethora of vendors in Africa – from those serving the on-premise hardware network market to those focused on the traditional public cloud space – but it is confident it has the technical resources, experience and expertise to achieve its main objective on the continent: to be the ‘go-to’ services and solutions brand for an increasingly digitally-conscious user base.

Cloudflare was formed in 2010 by Matthew Prince, Michelle Zatlyn and Lee Holloway.

It has established a peered network of 172 Tbps capacity that covers 275 cities in over 100 countries. The company says it is a significant value proposition.

In Africa, the company operates in 22 cities, and among its other digital services, security is given due priority, including Zero Trust services, SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) and NaaS.

“We believe that citizens from Accra to Tunis all deserve to have the same digital opportunities and our services are where digital transformation tends to be born. Africans are keen to be digital,” says Dave Barnett, who leads the business strategy team for Cloudflare’s EMEA SASE and Email Security portfolio.

Security-driven market

Key takeaways

  • Cloudflare IPO September 13 2019
  • The largest DDoS attack Cloudflare has detected and mitigated was 2.5 Tbps, which was in Q3’22.
  • The largest HTTPS DDoS attack Cloudflare has detected and mitigated was 26 Mrps - company claims is one of the largest HTTPS DDoS attacks in the world on record. *This was in June 2022.
  • The largest attack Cloudflare has detected and mitigated from the packet rate perspective was 754 Mpps, which was in Q2’20
  • In Q3’22 Cloudflare blocked an average of 126 billion cyber threats each day.
  • Cloudflare operates within: Approximately 50 milliseconds of 95% of the Internet-connected population globally (for context, the blink of an eye is 300-400 milliseconds)

It makes sense that security is a driving force in this portfolio.

According to Cloudflare, cybercrime in South Africa is extremely high. The company refers to research from Surfshark which states that the country is ranked 6th globally for cybercrime density, and has seen the sharpest increase in cybercrime in the world in recent years.

“There are two opposing forces at play,” says Barnett. “The need to innovate or develop new products and routes to market (and) enable workforces with new ways of doing business versus cybercrime, which unfortunately affects everyone from individuals to the largest of businesses. Complexity is the enemy of both of these, Cloudflare aims to dramatically simplify the process of innovation and reduce complexity and cost within an organisation's security provision. This enables companies to become more agile and customers in Africa are telling us this balance is super helpful for them.”

Cloudflare provides multiple layers of protection delivered from one consolidated interface. According to the company this means it is possible to ensure cost effective overlapping security.

Dave Barnett.
Dave Barnett.

Barnett explains the value proposition: “For example, as we have seen a big spike in attacks on human identities, our anti-phishing email protection solution can protect a company against a user inadvertently exposing their company credentials. Should an attacker gain access to a company then our Zero Trust solutions prevent an attacker from being able to move around a network and should the attacker finally gain access to a sensitive application our remote browser isolation services can shield the application from attack.”

In addition to this security offering, Cloudflare wants to position itself at the forefront of digital transformation.

Barnett adds: “We will continue to innovate to provide a space, tools and technologies for our customers to innovate. Recent examples of this include our recent launch of Web 3 infrastructure protection, announcements around Zero Trust SIM technology and Cloudforce One, our new threat research team.”

But achieving objectives in Africa won’t be easy. Cloudflare lists several current and potential competitors, including:

• On-premise hardware network vendors, such as Cisco Systems Inc., F5 Networks, Inc., Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., FireEye, Inc., Imperva, Inc., Palo Alto Networks, Inc., Juniper Networks, Inc., Riverbed Technology, Inc., and Broadcom Inc.;

• Point-cloud solution vendors, including cloud security vendors such as Zscaler, Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. through Umbrella, and Menlo Security, Inc., content delivery network vendors such as Akamai Technologies, Inc., Fastly, Inc., and Edgio, Inc., domain name system vendors services such as Oracle Corporation through DYN, Neustar Security Services, email security vendors such as Mimecast Limited and Proofpoint, Inc., and cloud SD-WAN vendors and;

• Traditional public cloud vendors, such as Amazon.com, Inc. through Amazon Web Services, Alphabet Inc. through Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Corporation through Azure, and Alibaba Group Holding Limited through Alibaba Cloud.

Barnett adds that Cloudflare is on a mission to make the internet better for all humanity, and the company aims to be a catalyst for growth for African businesses.

Its vision is to level the playing field for all who wish to reap the benefits of modern digital transformation. 

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