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CloudFlare's CDN is based on Anycast, a standard defined in the Border Gateway Protocol—the routing protocol that's at the center of how the Internet directs traffic. Anycast is part of how BGP supports the multi-homing of IP addresses, in which multiple routers connect a network to the Internet; through the broadcasts of IP addresses available through a router, other routers determine the shortest path for network traffic to take to reach that destination.

Using Anycast means that CloudFlare makes the servers it fronts appear to be in many places, while only using one IP address. "If you do a traceroute to (a CloudFlare customer), depending on where you are in the world, you would hit a different data center," Prince said. "But you're getting back the same IP address."

That means that as CloudFlare adds more data centers, and those data centers advertise the IP addresses of the websites that are fronted by the service, the Internet's core routers automatically re-map the routes to the IP addresses of the sites. There's no need to do anything special with the Domain Name Service to handle load-balancing of network traffic to sites other than point the hostname for a site at CloudFlare's IP address. It also means that when a specific data center needs to be taken down for an upgrade or maintenance (or gets knocked offline for some other reason), the routes can be adjusted on the fly.

That makes it much harder for distributed denial of service attacks to go after servers behind CloudFlare's CDN network; if they're geographically widespread, the traffic they generate gets spread across all of CloudFlare's data centers—as long as the network connections at each site aren't overcome.

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The inside of Equinix's co-location facility in San Jose—the home of CloudFlare's primary data center.

Photo: Peter McCollough/

On August 22, CloudFlare, a content delivery network, turned on a brand new data center in Seoul, Korea—the last of ten new facilities started across four continents in a span of thirty days. The Seoul data center brought CloudFlare's number of data centers up to 23, nearly doubling the company's global reach—a significant feat in itself for a company of just 32 employees.

But there was something else relatively significant about the Seoul data center and the other 9 facilities set up this summer: despite the fact that the company owned every router and every server in their racks, and each had been configured with great care to handle the demands of CloudFlare's CDN and security services, no one from CloudFlare had ever set foot in them. All that came from CloudFlare directly was a six-page manual instructing facility managers and local suppliers on how to rack and plug in the boxes shipped to them.

"We have nobody stationed in Stockholm or Seoul or Sydney, or a lot of the places that we put these new data centers," CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince told Ars. "In fact, no CloudFlare employees have stepped foot in half of the facilities where we've launched." The totally remote-controlled data center approach used by the company is one of the reasons that CloudFlare can afford to provide its services for free to most of its customers—and still make a 75 percent profit margin.

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TEDxThunderBay - Geoff Cape - Imagine your City with Nature

Geoff is a leader in the area of green cities. Geoff is an executive, and public speaker on urban issues, space planning and themes related to innovation and city building. As the founder of Evergreen Geoff has been its CEO since inception in 1990. Under Geoff's leadership, Evergreen, has grown to include over 100 staff and offices in Toronto, and Vancouver. Evergreen is focused on the idea of green cities and the more specific agenda of integrating nature in urban design. Evergreen has led is the redevelopment of the historic Evergreen Brick Works property as an international centre for green cities with 16 buildings and 41 acres in the heart of the city. The project has won several international awards for design and programming is helping other imagine possibilities for brownfield sites around the world. Over the past 20 years Evergreen has enabled others with educational resources, training sessions, design support and grants to over 2100 schools and community projects. Evergreen has raised over $100 million to support the greening of cities, including $55 million to establish Evergreen Brick Works, leveraging sponsorship dollars with foundation, government and corporate grants, individual donations with earned revenues. Geoff attended Trinity College School, Queen's University (Bachelor of Arts) and McGill University (Masters of Management). Geoff is a founding member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum , and a participant at the World Economic Forum, Davos, founding <b>...</b>

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Frigid temperatures have gripped Europe in the last week, with the mercury reaching as low as 35 degrees Celsius below zero. After what had been a relatively mild winter, the sudden cold caught many unprepared. Eastern Europe is hardest hit, with over 100 deaths in Ukraine, and with over 11,000 people in remote villages cut off by snow in Serbia. Most of the fatalities recorded have been homeless people found frozen to death outside, and emergency tents with hot meals have been set up to help them in several affected countries. Russia and Poland are mobilizing help for the homeless. Travel in Romania has been chaos as a blizzard hampered efforts to clear both rails and roads. Recorded temperatures in Italy were the lowest in 27 years. -- Lane Turner (45 photos total)
A woman looks out a bus in Bucharest on February 2, 2012. (Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press)

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Yesterday I decided to try an experiment: I solicited reader requests for news photos. I asked people on Twitter and Google+, "Would you like to see a good photo of a particular subject? A high-res version of a photo you've already seen somewhere else? A photo from a particular photographer or event? If I have access and can find it, I'll try to post it" (details). The response was great, the subject matter was varied, and the task of finding the images and composing this entry was great fun. Images ranged from massive solar flares to tiny insects, taken in places from Thailand to outer space. If you enjoy this experiment, let me know in the comments, and I may develop it into a more regular feature. To all those who made requests, thanks so much, I hope you like what I was able to find. [29 photos]

Beth Winter (@bwinter) and Spidler both asked for a higher resolution version of "Anonymous in Polish parliament". -- Lawmakers from the leftist Palikot's Movement cover their faces with masks as they protest against ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, during a parliament session, in Warsaw, Poland, on January 26, 2012, after the Polish government signed the agreement. Poland's plans to sign ACTA sparked attacks on Polish government websites and street protests in several Polish cities this week. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

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SNOWY IN SWITZERLAND: Snow covered a church, pictured from an aerial view, in Davos, Switzerland, Monday. The World Economic Forum opens Wednesday in the resort area. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

SOCCER SILHOUETTES: Youths played soccer on a beach in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday. Equatorial Guinea will co-host the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament with Gabon. (Ariel Schalit/Associated Press)

SMILING NEAR A SHIPWRECK: People smiled as they took a picture on a rock in front of the Costa Concordia Monday. The cruise ship rammed into a reef off Giglio, Italy, Jan. 13. Salvage experts plan to pump fuel from the shipwreck. At least 15 people died in the accident. (Tony Gentile/Reuters)

TRUCKS IN TURIN: A German truck driver shrugged as trucks were parked on a highway in Turin, Italy, Monday. Truckers blocked roads throughout Italy to protest an increase in gas prices, introduced as part of austerity measures. (Giorgio Perottino/Reuters)

IN SESSION: Salafi parliamentary members attended the opening of Egyptian Parliament—the first session held since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak—in Cairo Monday. (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

LUNAR NEW YEAR: A worshiper burned incense at the Lama Temple, one of China’s most renowned monasteries, on the first day of the Year of the Dragon in Beijing Monday. (Diego Azubel/European Pressphoto Agency)

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