Cloudflare’s IPFS Gateway

This post is jam-packed with conflicts. It is about not one, but two, of USV’s portfolio companies. The more the better in my view.

Our portfolio company Cloudflare announced yesterday that they have launched an IPFS Gateway.

IPFS is an open protocol built and supported by our portfolio company Protocol Labs that facilitates a peer-to-peer file system composed of thousands of computers around the world, each of which stores files on behalf of the network.

So why is this a big deal?

Well, here are a few reasons. You can all add more in the comments.

1/ Cloudflare is a massively scaled infrastructure company. By offering a hosted IPFS gateway, none of us need to download and run IPFS software on our computers anymore. Cloudflare will do it for us.

2/ IPFS is awesome. It decentralizes file hosting, which has historically been a centralized affair on the internet. The Cloudflare post has a really great primer on IPFS in it so go there if you want to learn more.

3/ We are one step closer to the decentralized blogging platform that I have long wanted. From the CloudFlare post, “Using Cloudflare’s gateway, you can also build a website that’s hosted entirely on IPFS, but still available to your users at a custom domain name. Plus, we’ll issue any website connected to our gateway a free SSL certificate, ensuring that each website connected to Cloudflare’s gateway is secure from snooping and manipulation.”

And yesterday’s announcement is just day one of “crypto week” at Cloudflare where each day they will be announcing support for a new technology that uses cryptography to make the Internet better. I love that. I love Cloudflare. I love Protocol Labs. And I love IPFS. /fin


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    This feels like the Coinbase model of centralised decentralisation.I would like to blog, but only on a truly decentralised network. This is not that.p.s. I blog therefore I am?

    1. bsoist


    2. kidmercury

      This is the only way decentralization can work — as a setup for someone else to recentralize, but with greater scalability and lower costs. Decentralization creates value, but centralization is needed to capture it. The two go hand in hand, and both are needed.Paradoxically, the more we decentralize, the more we pave the way for greater centralization.

      1. jason wright

        who guards the guards, who guards the ‘gateway’? i’m not happy with it.the whole thing feels like a distortion of its early promise, with malign influences all around. the human species gets what it deserves.

        1. kidmercury

          it is a distortion of an early promise, though that is only because those who made the promise promised something that could not be delivered. things need to get convenient before most people will use them, which means someone somewhere needs to centralize the feature set to shape it for optimal usability.eventually there will be something like filecoin changing its monetary policy, widespread seizure of people’s wallets, or some kind of civil war/fork in the community that results in widespread file destruction — but that world is still far superior to the one we currently have, in which amazon can and will delete files (that you paid for) on your kindle. plus, the current architecture of the internet can barely make video distribution economically viable. for VR/MR/AR, internet of things, and machine learning everywhere to achieve fruition, a better architecture is needed, which is what blockchain stuff will enable.

      2. David Albrecht

        This sounds about right.You can run your own git installation over ssh and manage the keys yourself, or you can pay Github to use their infrastructure, key management, and social features.It’s really just another choice. You get to pick whether you want the more convenient, less “pure” centralized one, or running the decentralized one yourself, with all the operational burden and potentially reduced functionality that that entails.

      3. jason wright

        why does it need to be captured, and concentrated in the hands of a few? isn’t that generally the great flaw of the world we presently find ourselves living in?

        1. kidmercury

          it’s hard to get a group of people motivated to do the substantial work of creating a product that is easy to use and economically viable without creating sufficient economic incentive to do so. maybe some day people will work for free, but so long as they need food and a place to live, it seems unlikely to me.excessive, or highly skewed, wealth distribution results primarily from monetary policy that ensures this by its design. i believe cryptocurrencies that win will solve this problem. there will still be people who are rich and those who are poor, but the distribution won’t be nearly as skewed as it is today; in fact, i’m expecting currencies that end up becoming popular to do so in part because of a commitment to explicitly target a normal distribution of wealth.

    3. Vasudev Ram

      >centralised decentralisation.You beat me to it. (Saw this post late, too).That was one of the first things I thought after reading the post:>1/ Cloudflare is a massively scaled infrastructure company. By offering a hosted IPFS gateway, none of us need to download and run IPFS software on our computers anymore. Cloudflare will do it for us.So, centralized …2/ IPFS is awesome. It decentralizes file hosting, which has historically been a centralized affair on the internet. The Cloudflare post has a really great primer on IPFS in it so go there if you want to learn more…. decentralization?Also:>InterPlanetary File System (IPFS)where is the Inter in InterPlanetary?Have we reached Mars already? /jkRelated, but more real life, check out:VIDEO: Astronaut Abby reaches for the stars (and Mars):

  2. Adam Parish

    IPFS will do for the filesystem what blockchain has done for the system-of-record. This is a big deal.

    1. Ron Pastore

      yah, seems like it. could be a big step towards someone in a rural or underdeveloped setting loading a life-changing web-app and the files that constitute the app came from their neighbors, blazingly fast, instead of a CDN or server thousands of miles away, safely away from the hands of Verizon, Comcast, governments, etc.. definitely different from the P2P we’ve seen because there is no client required, so much of what we think of as our current internet can run on this.

  3. Julien Boyreau

    Completely agree with Jason : the day you stop self hosting you are actually pointing back to an URL on CloudFlare self killing the purpose.P2P File sharing has existed since the dawn of the Internet, but for now felt short of the 3 reasons why center platforms have been winning :=> Discovery : pretty cool to fetch a SHA256 of a file but do I get to it without Search / Following, etc…And once I got too many stuff to search and follow, I’d be glad for Algorithms that need to centralize data to work (look alike, etc…)=> Safety : how can I be sure I am not promoting a system also used by criminals or else ? Or that files are not corrupted ?=> Performance : comparing downloads from WeTransfer and Bittorent reminds me everyday of the tough trade off here.

    1. Deven Blake

      To address the first half of your safety concern: Let’s face it, every system is used by criminals. Promoting the knife doesn’t mean you’re promoting its use.Your other points are pretty reasonable however.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I am not saying I don’t like the concept of using spare widely distributed computing power, network connectivity, and storage capacity instead of building it out in datacenters.As to use by criminals. I can tell you that is not one to blow off. I know somebody firsthand very well, that had the police come in at 5am pin him and his wife down, arrest him, take every single computing device he had.Of course he had to hire a lawyer, eventually charges were dropped. Storing child porn on your machine in your house even though you personally never accessed it is not something the police doesn’t care about here in the U.S., and they have ways to find out exactly where it is coming from.

        1. jason wright

          child pornography is heinous.that said, how did the police know, did they have a warrant, and is it widespread in the US?

          1. PhilipSugar

            I’d say you look up Lord Sewell and Pete Townsend and get back to me.

          2. jason wright

            and not forgetting MI5’s organised day trips to children’s care homes for foreign diplomats, dark rumours about Sir Edward Heath, Theresa May’s father, the whole rotten bunch of them. If ever a country needed a revolution to sweep away the shit Britain is the one. The next time the US is looking to invade a country please do put in a kind word to the Pentagon on my behalf.

          3. PhilipSugar

            They monitor, they find somebody and then backtrack. Of course they had a warrant, without one, nothing is admissible. Don’t high horse me and think it any better anywhere. You tell me what happens in “public” schools in the UK we call them “private” here.

          4. jason wright

            I call them private too. I blame Henry VI for creating a nursery of modern privilege and perversion. That’s what happens when charity is extended to the public poor.I only ride bicycles.

        2. LE

          What was the person’s rationale for participating in that situation? Why did they do it and what did they stand to gain by setting themselves up for a raid?

          1. PhilipSugar

            LE. Of course they did not willingly participate. You have that on your servers because you are not controlling…….tell me what happens.

          2. LE

            No you are missing my question. It is ‘why were they participating in a situation to begin with that could lead to that’?What did they stand to gain by doing so?Or do you mean someone installed the software on their server by a hack etc?The way I read what you said was they were running something like a tor node. Or were they not doing that and someone hacked them and installed software? But If a node (was my assumption based on what you wrote) why did they do that in the first place?

          3. PhilipSugar

            Share videos (non bad ones) get ones. This is a penny wise pound foolish. So let’s say I think paying for cable is a “rip off” or movies or whatever.I am not debating where the line is other than when you open yourself up.Do I think it is absolute stupidity for me not to use Skype to call my wife when I am Australia? Yes.But let’s say I lived in Austin, TX with 1gbs internet connections. Heck I don’t use it during the day or in the middle of the night. One Terrabyte of SSD is less than $200. That’s about 1,000 movies.If I don’t care about a small delay, I can just load pay per view and then stream. $100??? screw that let me find a stream.I don’t want a central authority. The central authority doesn’t want to take responsibility for me (no money).Well, sure it works “screwing the man” Until you get screwed.

          4. LE

            I never understood that type of thing with respect for videos.A general principle that I have is spending time on making money not on saving money. Reason is I saw my Dad and many small business people focus time on costs rather than opportunity. They would get a buzz out of being cheap cheap cheap. Like why buy a new copier the old one is fine if it breaks down girl in office will just wait and we will get it fixed. (Not a great example but partly true).Spending time on making money and not saving money doesn’t mean spend money foolishly or overpay either. It just means stop getting a buzz out of saving money when you don’t have to do so. Time is valuable.Even today I don’t have the time to figure out the best CD or MM to get extra interest. So I pass up a bit on that type of thing. Meanwhile one simple deal more than makes up for the loss. When I was younger (and actually interest rates were higher) I would rack my brains shifting money around for the extra interest. Older people do that now. Because they have the time to do so.

          5. PhilipSugar

            Totally agreed. Coupons are the old people rebate. Sorry they are. They only other people miss is the risk reward.

  4. Pointsandfigures

    Wasn’t Filecoin supposed to do what Cloudflare is doing as well?

    1. joshuakarjala

      Not really -FileCoin is a tokenized way to pay others to “pin” (host a copy) of your data on the IPFS network, so that it will be available even if you are not online.The gateway that CloudFlare is setting up simply resolves a hash to a file on the IPFS network. If noone is “pinning” the file then CloudFlare cannot serve it.

  5. Richard

    This like most the crypto applications seem unproven at scale. And the authors insult the intelligence of the readers by not addressing the potential issues. Where is the SWOT analysis ?

  6. Frank W. Miller

    I noticed on their website something called China Network. Perhaps you could comment on their take on the repressive govt and censorship that are required to do business there? This seems particularly relevant given their stated desire to provide gateway Internet services.

  7. scottythebody

    Am I going to have to pay a cryptokitty or more to get my files back?

  8. DJL

    This seems like great synergy. Cloudflare has done a tremendous job of being a near invisible part of my delivery stack. Layering more value-added services into their platform makes sense to me.

  9. LE

    End users ‘the customer’, I will note, do not care about this type of thing. So it is not mass market the way it is being presented or even close. And what end users are paying for is for someone or some company to just ‘make it all work’. That is where the markup and profit is. There are multiple ways to host a site or to store things without paying if you know how to do it already. The middleman is merely a layer of knowledge something that they know and can do that you don’t. That is what you are and have been traditionally paying for.Let me repeat that: The middleman is merely a layer of knowledgeFrom the post:centralization makes it impossible to keep content online any longer than the origin servers that host it. If that origin server is hacked or taken out by a natural disaster, the content is unavailableThis is taken care of by a backup plan (at the small user level). Larger users have this covered in multiple ways that are reasonably cost effective and that they feel comfortable with. Also will add that origin servers being taken out by a natural disaster is a very small risk given how data centers operate, importantly, in this day and age. (And further with AWS or Google Cloud only two examples). Of course I can see a big reduction in costs for large users riding on the backs of people who for whatever reason want to offer free space or servicese to companies making billions ‘the schmucks’. Nobody here is claiming that some major company will be offering free space to some other major company, right?If the site owner decides to take it down, the content is gone.And it should be ‘gone’. Why not? Isn’t that the site owners decision to do so?on big hosting providers in remote locations to store content and serve it to the rest of the web. If you want to set up a website, you have to pay one of these major services to do this for you.I love the use of ‘remote’ in the sentence. As if to imply there is something negative about that. Nobody cares where it’s located. If they did people could make money by offering hosting ‘locally’ to help local businesses.And, once again, to my point, you are paying for the things they (the host, ISP, tech guy) knows how to do that you don’t. Not so much for the raw materials of the server, bandwidth or space (although of course that is part of it).The rest of the cloudflare document appears fine (no time to actually dive in other than what I have already said) but I will repeat this does not appear to be some kind of thing that a mass market cares about or needs. [1] That said it’s an interesting concept that could develop and many things do into something else. But at the base level it is handling a problem (similar to bitcoin) that is already well served with a legacy way of doing things.[1] Similar to some other things that tech comes up with that is fancy to them but not the market.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Yup. Darned clear — good stuff.

  10. sigmaalgebra

    Noticed IPFS long ago — okay, can do that.I’m sitting here with a package just got from Amazon with two rotating hard disk drives, 7200 RPM, SATA II, that is, 3 Gbps data rate instead of the SATA III at 6 Gbps. So, I’m considering data rate, cache size, rotational latency, etc., comparing with SATA III and solid state disks (SSDs), etc.But IPFS over the Internet, through several peering centers, all the TCP/IP handshaking, whatever is different about IPFS from Microsoft’s NTFS (new technology file system) makes SATA II versus SATA III differences look like small potatoes, i.e., no way can some long distance, public internet, the Internet, compete in data rate, or especially latency, with a file system all in one tower case or all in one server farm in one room. No way. Uh, generally long distance has longer latency, lower data rate, less management control, more costs, and more system management mud wrestling.For hosting a Web site, as we all here know very, very well, there is a lot more to the server side of nearly any Web site today than just a file system.I’m on the Akamai e-mail mailing list and do keep most of their e-mails, PDF files, etc. — just downloaded one of their PDF files today. So I’m interested in Akamai — may end up using them, or my advertising customers may use them.IPFS? Getting excited about that is a long shot. For a particular IPFS hosting company, hmm, as I noticed early on, IPFS is open stuff. Besides, somehow I suspect that Microsoft has some options for a distributed file system when I need such a thing. As I recall, some years ago some Linux super computing people did some ambitious things with distributed file systems. And there is NFS — network file system and NSF servers — rows and columns of racks with boxes packed with disk drives.For “distributed”, I’ll borrow from some ads:”Is distributed good? I believe I’ve seen some articles about distributed.””Lots of articles.””But, which is better, a liquid or a powder?”

    1. Michael Elling

      Both. Neither. Danger is embracing one exclusively. Networks are all about layer 1-3 tradeoffs wrt processing, storage, transactions, etc… based on supply/demand drivers in layers 4-7. Mind you, crypto and IP-vistas don’t understand much of this.East-west and north-south (dis)incentives and settlements (and value equilibration to drive sustainability and generativity) in the informational stack is what we should be talking about.

  11. Rory

    With centralised servers you have to wonder what the power consumption equation looks like with IFPS with a heavy push to zero carbon data centres. Mixing in power sinks in the form of consumer electronics has to cost something in this regard?

  12. Markus Maiwald

    It is a good advertisement for shitty IPFS, but Cloudflare gets the possibility to track each user with that step. So privacy-wise it doesn’t matter where Cloudflare delivers the content from, IPFS or your nginx server, they get the chance of filering it and tracking the users. This is the opposite of decentralization and most people don’t understand it here.