Cloudflare to enter infrastructure services market with new R2 storage product

Cloudflare, which has a network of data centers in 250 locations around the world, announced its first dalliance with infrastructure services today, an upcoming cloud storage offering called R2.

Company co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince says that the idea for moving into storage as a service came from the same place as other ideas the company has turned into products. It was something they needed in-house and that led to them building it for themselves, before offering it to customers too.

“When we build products, the reason that we end up building them is usually because we need them ourselves,” Prince told me. He said that the storage component grew out of the need to store object components like images on the company’s network. Once they built it, and they looked around at the cloud storage landscape, they decided that it would make sense to offer it as a product to customers too.

“We thought if we can build a storage solution that provides all the functionality that other storage solutions do, that takes advantage of our global network so it’s extremely performant and we can also then price it in a way that is very attractive to customers [we should do it],” he said.

The R2 name is a little swipe at Amazon’s S3 storage product and obviously a play on the name. The difference, according to Prince, is that they have found a way to reduce storage costs by up to 10% by eliminating egress fees. Cloudflare plans to price storage at $0.015 per GB of data stored per month. That compares with S3 pricing that starts at $0.023 per GB for the first 50 TB per month.

“In terms of what costs look like in terms of data transfer costs, if you look at any of the cloud providers it’s free to put your data in, but it costs you something to pull that data back out,” Prince told me. He said one of the goals with this service was eliminating those costs associated with moving the data around, and the plan is to not charge for what the company called “infrequent access.”

Prince sees this against a backdrop where the price of bandwidth has fallen over the years, yet the price of storage on Amazon and other cloud services has remained high. In his estimation, they can pass on some of those cost savings to customers. He says that he’s not trying to compete directly with startups like Backblaze and Wasabi, both of which he says are partners, but both are similarly trying to compete with Amazon and other large cloud providers in the cloud storage market.

The product is still being developed and the company has set up a waitlist for customers interested in participating in a beta when it’s ready for testing in the coming months.

Prince says that Cloudflare is looking at building other services beyond storage, and he sees his company eventually competing with the big three cloud vendors — AWS, Google and Microsoft. “I think that we really think we’re on the path to be the fourth major public cloud. And, I think that our approach to it is actually much more differentiated than the other three, and so yeah, we will continue to build things out,” he said.