HAProxy Enters The CDN Market

HAProxy Technologies, the company behind the most popular open-source load balancer HAProxy just got into the CDN business. In doing so, they’ve done something that Nginx (F5) and Varnish Software declined to do. HAProxy refers to its CDN as an application delivery network. Besides content and application delivery, the CDN provides a deep portfolio of security features including WAF, DDoS protection, bot mitigation, and fingerprinting capabilities. Currently, the tech stack runs over a 12 PoP network and the startup owns and controls the routing infrastructure. The CDN was initially rolled out in Nov 2019 but we failed to see the news because it never occurred to us they’d make such a move.

HAProxy History

Before we dive deeper into the HAProxy CDN stack, let’s start with some history. The HAProxy (1.0) Project was launched in 2001. To date, there have been 5M installations of the product. Several years later, HAProxy was sold and a new entity HAProxy Technologies was created in 2014. The company took the same route as Nginx, Varnish, and countless others where they maintained the open source project but also offered a commercial version. Now they have more than 700 commercial customers. The most impressive part, the startup is self-funded.

Over the next six years, the startup developed a slate of products which include the following:

  1. HAProxy Enterprise: Commercial version of the load balancer with application delivery controller features
  2. Kubernetes Ingress Controller: Routes external traffic into a Kubernetes cluster and pod based on the host header and request path. Out of the box, Kubernetes is unable to do this because it only allows intra-cluster communication
  3. HAProxy ALOHA: Load balancer (hardware option and virtual) that comes with DDoS protection, bot mitigation, WAF, and fingerprinting
  4. Fusion Control Plane: Single pane of glass that enables users to manage the entire product line across any cloud provider or container network
  5. HAProxy Edge: Application delivery network that provides content and application delivery

With so many features under its belt that are typically offered by a CDN, building a CDN was a logical choice. Today, a good chunk of their revenue is derived from selling hardware-based load balancers. However, that is likely to shift in the coming years with a CDN in hand.

Business Model

The twist to the HAProxy CDN business model that makes it differentiated is its integration with Kubernetes and microservices. At the moment, no other CDN does that. StackPath is different because they host K8 containers. In theory, HAProxy should be able to allow a company to take its containerized web application or website, place the clusters at various PoPs, and then steer traffic inter/intra-cluster between locations. In doing so, it could be argued that this makes HAProxy a CDN Edge Compute provider because it gives customers the ability to run applications at the edge. There are two CDN Edge Compute models: 1) Serverless (FaaS) and 2) Containers at the edge that house applications/DB.

HAProxy CDN features include the following:

  • Content and application delivery
  • WAF
  • DDoS Protection
  • Bot Mitigation
  • Global Load Balancing
  • API Gateway
  • 12 PoPs w/ 100G Tier 1 connectivity
  • Anycast Network
  • Serving 70B request/day
  • Integrates with Kubernetes and microservices

It’s been eight months since HAProxy rolled out its CDN product. Based on market history, which includes that of Fastly, Cloudflare, and EdgeCast, it takes about 5 years to build a solid reputation, revenue base, and respectable market share. We expect HAProxy to follow in the footsteps of these leaders, which means we’ll start to see more features coming out regularly, a bigger network footprint, and so on.

Background

  • Company: HAProxy Technologies
  • HQ: Waltham, MA
  • Founded: 2014
  • Raised: Self-funded
  • # of Employees: 61
  • Founder: Dujko Radovnikovic (CEO) and Willy Tarreau (CTO)
  • Products: Load balancer, K8 Ingress Controller, WAF, DDoS protection, bot mitigation, and CDN