Cloudflare unveils R2 Storage for edge applications, sets stage to challenge AWS

Cloudflare unveils R2 Storage for edge applications, sets stage to challenge AWS

Global network and security services provider Cloudflare has announced the release of Cloudflare R2 Storage, a solution designed to aid developers to store and migrate data from AWS S3-compatible services.

Cloudflare executives said that R2 Storage is particularly suited to edge applications, thanks to its ability to store large amounts of data while also reducing cloud provider storage fees.

For context, before S3, Cloudflare explained that web hosting services charged companies with separate bills for bandwidth, storage, CPU, and memory. Amazon Web Services solved this problem by bringing in a single bill for all the aforementioned services.

While simpler from a procurement perspective, the AWS fees to move data out of its cloud services have been historically not exactly cheap. The introduction of R2 aims to solve this issue.

“Since AWS launched S3, cloud storage has attracted, and then locked in, developers with exorbitant egress fees,” explained Matthew Prince, co-founder, and CEO of Cloudflare.

“We want developers to keep developing, not worrying about their storage bill. Our aim is to make R2 Storage the least expensive, most reliable option for storing data, with no egress charges,” he added.

To this end, in 2018 Cloudflare created the Bandwidth Alliance, an initiative bringing cloud and networking companies together to discount or waive data transfer (also known as bandwidth) fees for shared customers.

By releasing Cloudflare R2 Storage, Cloudflare will now renew its efforts in this direction, adding automatic migration of data from S3-compatible services and providing developers a highly performant, object store while removing the egress fees.

The result, according to Cloudflare, would be an object storage service that is at least 10% cheaper than S3.

Thanks to the performance of object storage built with Cloudflare Workers and Durable Objects, R2 will also provide low latency and high throughput storage, even for the most demanding applications. The solution will also be able to replicate data across multiple regions and support jurisdictional restrictions, thus giving businesses the ability to meet their local and global needs, wherever where their data is stored.

The news comes weeks after Cloudflare announced the acquisition of Appfleet, with all of the latter company’s clusters planned to go offline by the end of the month.

The transaction will be reportedly aimed at supporting the firm’s goal of building a scalable edge compute platform while also retaining a simple and affordable service.

Partner Perspective — R2 will have immense impact

Macrometa, developer of a distributed edge database service, is a Cloudflare partner.

Macrometa’s technology is used by developers to build stateful applications across geographically distributed infrastructure. A stateful application at the edge needs to store client or application data at the edge.

EdgeIR asked Macrometa CEO Chetan Venkatesh for his perspective on the Cloudflare R2 service. He responded with the following statement:

“The price savings alone is industry-shaking and the right thing for any engineer building on cloud. The Bandwidth Alliance announcement made some ripples but, if this is the beginning of the impact on egress costs, I’m quite intrigued to see what’s to come.”

“The meat of this announcement lies in the offload and re-vectoring of data operations away from the origin to the edge. R2 as a product in itself is powerful — R2 plus Cloudflare Workers is a fundamental change.

In most use cases, the object store can be treated as either a source or sink for data. Having either of these targets at the edge changes everything. Take, for example, stream processing. The combination of R2 plus Workers enables complex stream processing at the edge provided that you have database access and edge stream capability, for example, via Macrometa.

This enables incredibly interesting use cases such as the ability to do in-region data processing. You can solve complex data regulation problems by ingesting and analyzing data in the regions where the data is created! This allows you to comply with data domicile and sovereignty regulations with features like geo-fencing, data-pinning, real-time data anonymization, etc. Making GDPR compliance a setting rather than a disconnected and frustrating workflow is going to be music to developers’ ears.

In addition, Cloudflare Workers now truly meet the minimum viable requirement for cloud infrastructure. R2 plus Workers is, effectively, compute and storage at the edge. When AWS launched EC2 and S3, nearly every solution that followed was built on those two services. The primitives of compute and storage are elementary and, now, Cloudflare has the opportunity to invent many higher-level edge services atop these.”

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