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Cloudflare just disrupted 3 industries in 1 week

While doing research for my upcoming book on how founders validated their SaaS/app ideas, I've identified a number of indie hackers who were able to create an MVP due new technology & platform changes.

Take Zencastr ($12k/mo), a podcast recording tool. A new browser change allowed them to build their MVP in the first place.

...this was right when browsers started allowing developers to access microphones and process audio.

This new technology in the browsers created opportunities that no one had utilized yet, so I decided to take a shot at it.

Last week, Cloudflare announced not one, but four major new features that could disrupt 3 industries and make building your Minimum Viable Product significantly faster and cheaper.

1. Cloud storage with no egress fees

If you use Amazon S3, your biggest headache expense is the outbound transfer. Last week, CloudFlare announced R2 storage where they totally eliminate\* the bandwidth fees and only charge $0.015 per GB of data stored per month.

That's even cheaper than DigitalOcean, which charges $5 for 250GB storage and 1TB transfer.

MVPs made possible due to this update: Anything that has to do with transferring lots of data. Say you have a product idea that required an average of 50TB outbound transfer per month.

With Amazon S3, you'd pay at least $4500 a month. With DigitalOcean, at least $505. With CloudFlare, well, it could be less than $10/month (it only depends on how much data you have stored).

Edit: There's an ongoing discussing about Cloudflare's zero-rate infrequent storage operations, which CloudFlare says will be "significantly less per-operation than the major providers." According to one HN user, "per operation charges, even if at the same level as EC2, would still be substantially cheaper."

2. Free/cheap real-time communication tools (WebRTC, livestreaming)

Cloudflare announced "WebRTC components", an API for WebRTC using their global edge network. WebRTC is the technology behind many real-time apps (think apps like Zoom, FaceTime, live streams and so on). For WebRTC to work reliably, you need several components like STUN/TURN servers which can be expensive (take a look at Twilio's pricing, for example).

Cloudflare's WebRTC components will basically make this free, allowing you to offload TURN and STUN to their own huge network.

If you're not a developer and want to use something that's more nocode-ish, CloudFlare also announced "Stream Live", a player that allows you to do live streaming/recording for $5 per 1000 minutes of video storage and $1 per 1000 minutes viewed.

MVPs made possible due to this update: Anything requiring real-time communication (one-to-one meeting apps, group calling apps, social video/gaming/sports, interactive apps and so on.) CloudFlare said they will raise the level of abstraction for their WebRTC API so you can think in terms of "participants, rooms and channels" instead of low-level details like how to configure the connection in the first place.

3. Tools to more easily build Web3 applications (Etherium and IPFS)

Welcome to the Web 3.0, where your software is decentralized and your users' data truly belongs to them.

Web 3.0 also unlocks the Metaverse, a place where we trade in crypto and have NFTs as intellectual rights.

The only problem: Running and setting up the infrastructure for Web 3.0 apps is painful. Accessing it via the browser is (almost) impossible.

Cloudflare has announced their "Distributed Web Gateways" which should solve these problems. Developers will interact with HTTP calls, which CloudFlare will translate to PFS or Ethereum functions, while adding Cloudflare added-value services on the HTTP side.

MVPs made possible due to this update: Any application based on Etherium and smart contracts that you want to make more widely available and get more users.

Availability: These features are in beta and you can apply for early access (the instructions are at the bottom of each announcement). They will, however, become widely available soon enough, causing a flood of innovative SaaS and mobile apps (hopefully yours will be one of them!)

Btw, if you liked this article, you'll probably like my Indie Hackers series. I focus on identifying trends like these that can help grow your startup every week. To get them via email, feel free to subscribe:

  1. 6

    Saw the R2 announcement on HackerNews. There hasn't been such excitement for a Cloudflare product in a long time.

  2. 4

    With Cloudflare offering so much cheap storage, I now know why hard drives and SSD's have been so expensive recently.

  3. 2

    Poli Systems also offer no egress fees for S3 storage : https://polisystems.ch/en/s3

    The only disavantages is fixed size and no public bukets.

  4. 2

    Wow thanks for sharing this!!

  5. 2

    I can confirm that WebRTC is a pain in the you-know-what. There are APIs to abstract this but they are usually categorized by topic (Chat SDKs, real-time gaming SDKs and so on). If CF can provide a general-purpose API for interacting with WebRTC while at the same time handling the STUN/TURN part for free/cheap, that would be a game changer.

    1. 1

      Maybe the next step will be: Build APIs on top of WebRTC components for more niche use cases :)

  6. 2

    Pretty fascinating. Especially the R2 change. DigitalOcean was cheap, but this is taking things to a whole new level.

    1. 1

      Yeah, things will get interesting.

  7. 1

    Amazing! No-code market for video calls apps will blow! Great content @Darko

  8. 1

    This will definitely come in handy for us. We are already in the middle of building our own online tutoring platform using WebRTC. Realtime Video communication is here to stay. But WebRTC is notoriously difficult to deal with, at least as it stands right now. It's a bit low-level for our liking. Abstracting it and making it available in terms of "participants, rooms, channels and so on ) would be a a big help

    1. 1

      Have you tried using the WebRTC products yet? The R2 object storage and WebRTC packages are of great interest to me. I want to offer a premium package where I offer live review and tutoring packages. Some course providers are providing docker packages to their students instead of hosting the development environment for courses. This allows me not to have to deal w/ malicious use of the environment for now as I am wearing many hats.

  9. 1

    Looking forward to R2 and the Web RTC wrappers. Could be game changing.

  10. 1

    hey thanks for sharing it is really good

  11. 1

    I haven't seen any pricing information for the WebRTC components piece. Is Cloudflare planning to keep this free?

  12. 1

    Lets say I start with MVP using cloudflare but as the application and users grow how difficult is it to migrate from cloudfare to AWS??

    1. 2

      What's your use case? Usually people do the reverse. Both platforms are "infinitely scalable" and you likely won't face bottlenecks with both.

      1. 1

        I am currently using linode $5 plan for linux server and $5 for object storage for my saas application. My only concern is if I start using cloudflare then if I switch to AWS later then how easy or difficult is it for migration? And any strategy for doing migration.

        1. 1

          If you will need to migrate then I think you will be making enough money to get someone else to do that for you

  13. 1

    Cloudflare are a formidable giant. Thanks Darko for this especially the last one is is interesting to me. How do you think IH can use Web3 in the coming future?

    1. 1

      Well one obvious problem with Web3 is the infrastructure and wider access, hopefully CF and others will solve this problem. Also Web 3.0 is still in its "early adopter" days and is an industry that has huge potential, at least according to people like Naval.

      1. 2

        The funniest thing I’ve seen about web3 is everyone cheers for it because of the decentralization. Then they ask, wait a min, we can’t delete anything on the ledger....like forever...?

  14. 0

    Cloudflare is incredible

  15. 0

    if you liked this article, you'll probably like my Indie Hackers series

    How can one see the series? Clicking on your name goes to
    https://www.indiehackers.com/zerotousers
    The Posts tab there has only "Acquisition Channel of the Week" posts, with latest being in Dec 2020. Not even this article is shown.

  16. 1

    This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

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