Network performance update: Birthday Week 2023

Created on November 12, 2023 at 10:36 am

5 min TIME read

We constantly measure our own network’s performance against other networks, look for ways to improve our performance compared to them, and share the results of our efforts. Since June 2021 DATE , we’ve been sharing benchmarking results we’ve run against other networks to see how we compare.

In this post we are going to share the most recent updates since our last post in June DATE , and tell you about our tools and processes that we use to monitor and improve our network performance.

How we stack up

Since June 2021 DATE , we’ve been taking a close look at every single network and taking actions for the specific networks where we have some room for improvement. Cloudflare was already the fastest provider for most of the networks around the world (we define a network as country and AS number pair). Taking a closer look at the numbers; in July 2022 DATE , Cloudflare ORG was ranked # 1 MONEY in 33% PERCENT of the networks and was within 2 ms QUANTITY ( 95th ORDINAL percentile TCP Connection Time) or 5% PERCENT of the # 1 MONEY provider for 8% PERCENT of the networks that we measured. For reference, our closest competitor on that front was the fastest for 20% PERCENT of networks.

As of August 30, 2023 DATE , Cloudflare ORG is the fastest provider for 44% PERCENT of networks—and was within 2 ms QUANTITY ( 95th ORDINAL percentile TCP Connection Time) or 5% PERCENT of the fastest provider for 10% PERCENT of the networks that we measured—whereas our closest competitor is now the fastest for 19% PERCENT of networks.

Below is the change in percentage of networks in which each provider is the fastest plotted over time.

Cloudflare ORG is maintaining our steady growth in the percentage of networks where we’re the fastest. Despite the slight tick down the past couple of months DATE , the trendline is still positive and with a higher rate of increase than other networks.

Now that we’ve reviewed how we stack up compared to other networks, let’s dig a little more into the other metrics we use to make us the fastest.

Our tooling

To provide insight into network performance, we use Real User Measurements (RUM) and fetch a small file from Cloudflare ORG , Akamai ORG , Amazon CloudFront ORG , Fastly and Google Cloud PRODUCT CDN. Browsers around the world report the performance of those providers from the perspective of the end-user network they are on. The goal is to provide an accurate picture of where different providers are faster, and more importantly, where Cloudflare ORG can improve. You can read more about the methodology in the original Speed Week EVENT blog post here.

Using the RUM data, we are able to measure various performance metrics, such as TCP Connection Time, Time ORG to First Byte (TTFB), Time ORG to Last Byte (TTLB), for ourselves and other networks.

Let’s take a look at some of the metrics we monitor and what’s changed since our last blog in June DATE .

The first ORDINAL metric we closely monitor is the percent of networks that we are ranked # 1 MONEY in terms of TCP Connection Time. That’s a key performance indicator that we evaluate ourselves against. This first ORDINAL line of the table shows that Cloudflare ORG was ranked # 1 MONEY in 45% PERCENT of networks in June 2023 DATE and 44% PERCENT in August 2023 DATE . Here’s the full picture of how we looked in June DATE versus how we look today DATE .

Cloudflare ORG ’s rank by TCP connection time % of networks in June 2023 % DATE of networks in August 2023 1 45 44 DATE 2 26 24 3 16 16 4 9 10 5 4 6

Overall, these metrics align with what we saw above: Cloudflare ORG is still the fastest provider in the most last mile networks, and while there has been slight changes in the month-to-month fluctuations, the overall trend shows us as being the fastest.

The second ORDINAL metric we monitor is our overall performance in each country. This gives us visibility into the countries or regions that we need to pay closer attention to and take action towards improving our performance. Those actions will be listed later. Orange indicates the countries that Cloudflare ORG is the fastest provider based on the TCP Connection Time. Here’s how we look as of September 2023 DATE :

For comparison, this is what that map looks like from June 2023 DATE :

We’ve become faster in Iran GPE and Paraguay ORG , and in the few cases where we are no longer number 1 CARDINAL , we are within 2ms PERSON of the fastest provider. In Brazil GPE and Norway GPE for example, we trail Fastly by only 1ms. In various countries in Africa LOC , Amazon CloudFront ORG pulled ahead but only by 2ms PERSON . We aim to fix that in the coming weeks DATE and months DATE and return to the #1 spot there also.

The third ORDINAL set of metrics we use are TCP Connection Time and TTLB ORG . The number of networks where we are # 1 MONEY in terms of 95th ORDINAL percentile TCP Connection Time is one of our key performance indicators. We actively monitor and work on improving that metric so that we are # 1 MONEY in the most metrics for 95th ORDINAL percentile TCP Connection Time. For September 2023 DATE , we are still # 1 MONEY in the most networks for TCP Connection Time FAC , more than double the next best provider.

Provider # of networks where the provider is fastest for 95th ORDINAL percentile TCP connection time Cloudflare 826 PRODUCT

Google 392 PRODUCT Fastly 348 CARDINAL CloudFront 337 PRODUCT Akamai 52 CARDINAL

The way we achieve these great results is by having our engineering teams constantly investigate the underlying reasons for degraded performance if there are any, and we track open work items until they are resolved.

What’s next

We’re sharing our updates on our journey to become #1 everywhere so that you can see what goes into running the fastest network in the world. From here, our plan is the same as always: identify where we’re slower, fix it, and then tell you how we’ve gotten faster.

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