Cloudflare strengthens Canadian presence with first Canadian-based staff and plans for Toronto office

Cloudflare has a Canadian President/COO and has had a Canadian customer and partner presence for years, but they are now hiring people on the ground and opening a Canadian office for the first time.

Michelle Zatlyn, Cloudflare’s co-founder, President and COO

Today, San Francisco-based Web infrastructure and security provider Cloudflare, which has had Canadian-based data centres and Canadian customers for years, is ramping up their Canadian presence further. The company has commenced hiring its first Canadian-based employees, with an initial goal of 15-20 by the end of the calendar year. They also plan to open a physical Canadian office in Toronto, although the COVID pandemic has delayed those plans.

Cloudflare started out providing content delivery network services, DDoS mitigation, Internet security, and distributed domain name server service, and have added additional services since, including a lot of SASE and Zero Trust over the last two and a half years.

“For both big and small companies, we help make sure that their Web facing properties are reliable, and make sure the Internet is faster, safer and more reliable,” said Michelle Zatlyn, Cloudflare’s co-founder, President and COO. We also do a lot around employees accessing information and workloads.” Their larger customers in Canada include Shopify, Thomson Reuters and Wealthsimple.

“Historically, we compete against a lot of network hardware vendors, who make network hardware boxes, load balancers, VPNs, and network optimization gear,” Zatlyn indicated. “With the huge shift to cloud-based services, we now have major cloud-based competitors, specifically the three very large global cloud providers.”

Cloudflare has been in Canada for years, establishing their first Canadian data centre in 2012, and now has facilities in seven Canadian cities.

“We have thousands and thousands of Canadian customers, from small businesses, entrepreneurs, and growth companies, to big companies,” said Zatlyn, who is Canadian herself, from Prince Albert Saskatchewan, and has a degree from McGill. “What has changed is that we are now hiring locally in Canada, showing a commitment to the country and its economy.”

The first hires, in both Toronto and Calgary, have already started.

“We don’t have a physical office location yet because of COVID, but we intend to have one in Toronto,” Zatlyn said. “By the end of this year, we want to have 15-20 people in Canada, and we then intend to triple that in the next two years.”

Cloudflare has multiple types of channel partners.

“We have a lot of partners,” Zatlyn said. “These range from Technology Partners – the Splunks and Sumo Logics of the world – to more traditional partnerships where an organization like IBM has longstanding customer relationships and those customers trust them to recommend. We also have some purely local partnerships in Canada based on this kind of relationship. Security is most in the forefront today, and we are an excellent solution for that, for customers who are in the process of going from a hardware setup to a cloud-based service. One of those partners, [Montreal-based] CloudOps has a major practice on strategies for transitioning to the cloud. It’s a huge shift for customers.” Digital experience provider Acquia is another key Canadian partner.

Matt Harrell, Global Head of Channels & Alliances at Cloudflare

“We are seeing a good uptick in advisory services from MSPs as well,” said Matt Harrell, Global Head of Channels & Alliances at Cloudflare. “There’s a really good opportunity for managed services, and we are seeing strong demand and interest from MSPs. With Rackspace, we have pivoted to a managed service business with them as well. We are in conversations with global as well as regional partners in managed services, and there will be more to come on that.”

Harrell said that they expect a strong growth in channel business as part of their Canadian expansion.

“Canadians are very digitally savvy, with many Canadians online as a percentage of the population,” he stated. “We have thousands of customers in Canada today. The next time we check in, I hope it’s hundreds of thousands. We are just getting started ensuring that any Canadian can have the best experience online.”

Harrell also stressed that they are in the process of hiring someone in Canada to look after partners here.

“We are currently interviewing for that,” he noted.