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Internet traffic wrangler Cloudflare is opening up its massive global network to third-party developers.
The network capacity and services provider says that its Cloudflare Apps Platform will let developers write code for web apps that Cloudflare customers can then purchase and embed on their sites.
Globally, Cloudflare said that it operates 115 data centers around the world and provides services for 6 million sites. The company hopes that it can use that customer base to support an early crop of developers, who will in turn create apps that will be used as selling points to bring even more customers to Cloudflare.
The program will include the app platform APIs and market as well as payment services for developers and a finance site that will connect the developers with VCs to back their start-ups.
To sweeten the pot, Cloudflare says it has brought in three of its own early investors to sponsor a $100m developer fund that will go toward companies that write code for the Cloudflare network.
The aim, said CEO Matthew Prince, is to open up Cloudflare’s network for third-party developers in the way that companies like Salesforce (with Force.com) and Apple (with the App Store) have done with their platforms.
“I think this has always been in the direction of what we have been doing,” Prince told The Register.
“The core asset that Cloudflare has is a global network and enough scale to run it profitably, but we don’t have a monopoly on ideas to run across that network.”
Prince said that while the early apps will likely be lightweight code to do things like embed share buttons or analyze traffic, eventually more sophisticated apps could make use of Cloudflare to perform compute tasks on the network edge rather than locally or in a data center.
“Over time what you will see is applications being developed to have a much broader scope,” Prince said.
“The future is things that make sense to run close to the client that you don’t want to run in a data center, but don’t make sense to run on the device itself either.”
In the meantime, Cloudflare has enlisted the likes of Pinterest, Oracle, and Zendesk, which have developed widgets for their respective services that customers will be able to drop into their own sites. The widgets are among 50 Cloudflare is using to launch the service. ®