Cloudflare to Enter Infrastructure Services market with new R2 storage product

Cloudflare, which has data centers in 250 sites across the world, today launched its first foray into infrastructure services, a cloud storage solution named R2.

The concept for moving into storage as a service came from the same source as other ideas that the company has converted into products, according to co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince. It was something they required in-house, so they built it for themselves before making it available to customers.

“When we build products, we frequently end up building them because we need them ourselves,” Prince explained. The storage component, he explained, arose from the necessity to store object components such as photos on the company’s network. After they constructed it and looked at the cloud storage landscape, they felt it would be a good idea to sell it to clients as well.

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

The R2 moniker is a jab at Amazon’s S3 storage service, as well as a play on the name. According to Prince, the difference is that they have discovered a means to cut storage costs by up to 10% by eliminating egress fees. Cloudflare intends to charge $0.015 per GB of data saved each month for storage. In comparison, S3 pricing for the first 50 TB per month starts at $0.023 per GB.

“In terms of what data transfer costs look like, 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 out,” Prince explained. One of the purposes of this service, he added, was to eliminate the costs of transferring data around, and the company’s plan is to not charge for what it calls “infrequent use.” The cost of bandwidth has decreased over time, but the cost of storage on Amazon and other cloud services has stayed high, according to Prince. According to him, they will be able to pass on some of the cost savings to customers.

He claims he isn’t aiming to compete directly with startups like Backblaze and Wasabi, which he describes as partners, although both are competing in the cloud storage market with Amazon and other huge cloud providers.

The product is currently in development, and consumers interested in participating in a beta when it is ready for testing in the coming months can sign up for a waitlist. Cloudflare is seeking to expand beyond storage, according to Prince, and he sees his firm someday competing with the major three cloud providers, AWS, Google, and Microsoft. “I believe we are on track to become the fourth major public cloud,” he says.