I recently wrote a blog post about cloudflare-load-balance-manager and the inspiration behind it.
Now that I have gotten a little bit more time to play with the Cloudflare Load Balancer system I thought I would share a little bit more of my thoughts (good and bad).
First I should mention that I am a pretty big fan of Cloudflare. The amount they offer in their free plan is just amazing. They have also been expending into more add-on type features which is amazing. Not everyone will need those add-on features, but everyone of the features is super useful, and I truly believe in supporting a company that starts out with an amazing free plan and has some super useful add-ons that are very inexpensive for the value they provide.
That being said my biggest complaint so far with their load balancer add-on is the pricing model, and features they provide by default. As of right now the whole reason I use load balancers is for deployment. Ensuring that one server is always online seems like a very useful feature for load balancers. I had been using Amazon Web Services load balancer before and I was looking for other options due to the seemingly high cost for my seamingly limited usage. Cloudflare takes a totally different approach to billing in this aspect than AWS. Which made it seem super promising.
It seems like to get started Cloudflare is much cheaper, but according to their billing page for load balancing to get support for more than 6 origin servers you must be an Enterprise customer. So my cost for more than 6 origin servers would shoot up from at least $50 (estimated cost for 6 origin servers) to $200+ (I'm pretty sure that Enterprise is not cheaper than their $200/mo business plan).
Also having health checks from ever data center and per data center steering is like the whole selling point of Cloudflare. Putting that behind the enterprise plan is something that I really don't understand. The whole benefit of Cloudflare is their massive worldwide datacenters. If that isn't part of Cloudflare that is a major unique feature that Cloudflare is leaving on the table, and a major reason why people would go to a competitor. At the same time it entices customers to pay more, and become more engrained in the Cloudflare world, which is pretty smart from a business perspective.
If I go from 2 origin servers to 4 origin servers, bumping my bill up from $5/mo to $15/mo doesn't make sense. At the time of writing this that is the cost of two smallest DigitalOcean droplets, so basically doubling my server costs by having Cloudflare load balancer, which is pretty unreasonable. Oh and on top of it, the cost of 2 additional servers is SO much more expensive then the first 2. $5/mo for the service and 2 origin servers, then an extra $10/mo for an additional 2 origin servers. That is just confusing.
I guess that is my biggest complaint about Cloudflare Load Balancers. The pricing doesn't quite make sense. I mean it's clear. But the logic behind the pricing doesn't quite make sense. I'm confident that this is something Cloudflare will address tho.
In terms of the technology tho, I was super impressed with how easy it is. Their API is very simple to use, and setting up a load balancer is super painless. The feature set as well seems very impressive with a lot more flexibility and customization compared to other load balancers such as AWS.
I'm super impressed with the potential of Cloudflare load balancers, and I still love where Cloudflare is going as a company and what they are focusing on. As a developer who loves cool technology, with a pretty small budget Cloudflare offers some great stuff that fits what I'm looking for.
The only thing I have yet to figure out about Cloudflare load balancers is how to better handle the process of when an EC2 instance gets terminated permanently, how to remove it from the Cloudflare load balancer so that one of my Cloudflare origin server slots isn't being taken up with an instance that is no longer even active.
Overall I love the potential. And I know this service will get better as time goes on. Again thank you Cloudflare for providing a great service and having the infrastructure and potential to help developers and companies worldwide. Keep focusing on those small developers that want to grow, and help them scale easily on your platform.