Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. It’s a holiday for getting together with family characterized by turkey dinner and whatever it is that happens in American football. While celebrating with family is great, if you use a computer for your main line of work, sometimes the conversation turns to how to setup the home wifi or can Russia really use Facebook to hack the US election. Just in case you’re a geek who finds yourself in that position this week, we wanted to give you something to play with. To that end, we’re opening the Warp beta to all Cloudflare users. Feel free to tell your family there’s been an important technical development you need to attend to immediately and enjoy!

Hello Warp! Getting Started

Warp allows you to expose a locally running web server to the internet without having to open up ports in the firewall or even needing a public IP address. Warp connects a web server directly to the Cloudflare network where Cloudflare acts as your web server’s network gateway. Every request reaching your origin must travel to the Cloudflare network where you can apply rate limits, access policies and authentication before the request hits your origin. Plus, because your origin is never exposed directly to the internet, attackers can’t bypass protections to reach your origin.

Warp is really easy to get started with. If you use homebrew (we also have packages for Linux and Windows) you can do:

$ brew install cloudflare/cloudflare/warp
$ cloudflare-warp login
$ cloudflare-warp --hostname warp.example.com --hello-world

In this example, replace example.com with the domain you chose at the login command. The warp.example.com subdomain doesn’t need to exist yet in DNS, Warp will automatically add it for you.

That last command spins up a web server on your machine serving the hello warp world webpage. Then Warp starts up an encrypted virtual tunnel from that web server to the Cloudflare edge. When you visit warp.example.com (or whatever domain you chose), your request first hits a Cloudflare data center, then is routed back to your locally running hello world web server on your machine.

If someone far away visits warp.example.com, they connect to the Cloudflare data center closest to them, and then are routed to the Cloudflare data center your Warp instance is connected to, and then over the Warp tunnel back to your web server. If you want to make that connection between Cloudflare data centers really fast, enable Argo, which bypasses internet latencies and network congestions on optimized routes linking the Cloudflare data centers.

To point Warp at a real web server you are running instead of the hello world web server, replace the hello-world flag with the location of your locally running server:

$ cloudflare-warp --hostname warp.example.com http://localhost:8080

Using Warp for Load Balancing

Let’s say you have multiple instances of your application running and you want to balance load between them or always route to the closest one for any given visitor. As you spin up Warp, you can register the origins behind Warp to a load balancer. For example, I can run this on 2 different servers (e.g. one on a container in ECS and one on a container in GKE):

$ cloudflare-warp --hostname warp.example.com --lb-pool origin-pool-1 http://localhost:8080

And connections to warp.example.com will be routed seamlessly between the two servers. You can do this with an existing origin pool or a brand new one. If you visit the load balancing dashboard you will see the new pool created with your origins in it, or the origins added to an existing pool.

You can also set up a health check so that if one goes offline, it automatically gets deregistered from the load balancer pool and requests are only routed to the online pools.

Automating Warp with Docker

You can add Warp to your Dockerfile so that as containers spin up or as you autoscale, containers automatically register themselves with Warp to connect to Cloudflare. This acts as a kind of service discovery.

A reference Dockerfile is available here.

Requiring User Authentication

If you use Warp to expose dashboards, staging sites and other internal tools to the internet that you don’t want to be available for everyone, we have a new product in beta that allows you to quickly put up a login page in front of your Warp tunnel.

To get started, go to the Access tab in the Cloudflare dashboard.

There you can define which users should be able to login to use your applications. For example, if I wanted to limit access to warp.example.com to just people who work at Cloudflare, I can do:

Enjoy!

Enjoy the Warp beta! (But don’t wander too deep into the Warp tunnel and forget to enjoy time with your family.) The whole Warp team is following this thread for comments, ideas, feedback and show and tell. We’re excited to see what you build.

Read more here:: CloudFlare

Want to try Warp? We just enabled the beta for you