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HubSpot is the industry leader in SaaS products for inbound sales and marketing, helping businesses optimize customer acquisition and engagement. HubSpot’s story began in 2004, when its founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah met as graduate students at MIT. After working with many startups to develop a go to market strategy, and understanding how ineffective the traditional channels had become, they set out to build a software platform which would support a new approach to marketing. HubSpot now supports over 40,000 customers in 90+ countries.
The challenge of delivering SSL
In the years that followed, the industry push towards “HTTPS everywhere” led HubSpot to explore how it could provide its customer sites with easy to deploy, built in SSL encryption to provide the security that visitors and search engines are looking for.
In 2015, HubSpot rolled out a solution using a “shared” subject alternative name (SAN) SSL certificate with the need for HubSpot engineers to manually “bundle” together host names on each SAN certificate.
It became apparent in the following months that while a good first step, this solution was difficult to scale effectively. It often took as long as five days, from the time a customer requested SSL to the time it could be deployed for them. In 2017, HubSpot began exploring alternative market offerings that could help. “We were looking for a technology innovator and knew that Cloudflare had been leading the way when it came to SSL technology” said Kerry Munz, Director of Engineering – Platform Infrastructure at HubSpot.
Why Cloudflare was the right partner
Cloudflare had widespread industry recognition as a security vendor that provided an easy to deploy managed service. Cloudflare however, at the time did not provide an off the shelf offering for this type of SSL provisioning for third party sites hosted on their platform. When HubSpot began discussions with Cloudflare, HubSpot needed to ensure that not only could Cloudflare develop a solution to support this need, but that Cloudflare’s network could also boost the performance of the service via Cloudflare’s Content Distribution Network (CDN).
The challenge was clear, could Cloudflare simplify the process to deliver SSL for HubSpot’s customer sites and improve performance? The urgency increased as Google’s announcement to flag sites on Chrome that were not encrypted meant many of HubSpot’s customers sites would be vulnerable. When HubSpot approached Cloudflare, the urgency had increased with the need to provide SSL for over 40,000 domains before the new Chrome update went into effect. Cloudflare partnered with HubSpot to develop an “SSL for SaaS” solution that ultimately helped HubSpot to deploy SSL for 47,000 sites that previously didn’t have encryption over the course of five days. This SSL provisioning was designed by HubSpot’s engineers using Cloudflare API technology and was done automatically, without any action required by HubSpot’s customers. Cloudflare’s ability to provision an SSL certificate and propagate it at Cloudflare’s edge in 90 seconds meant this could be incorporated at the customer sign up stage, reducing HubSpot support calls from its customers.
“Cloudflare became a trusted partner for us in devising this solution” explained Munz. “They have a team of incredibly smart engineers that know how to tackle difficult problems, and are always very responsive when issues arise.”
Integrated performance and security is a default
While the Cloudflare SSL offering was the key driver for HubSpot, Cloudflare was able to provide key services for accelerated web performance, DDoS protection, data loss prevention, and bot mitigation. “Our customers rely on an always available service from HubSpot that is free from bots and malware. Cloudflare’s security services enable our service to be always available and free from attack.”
“Our customers rely on us to provide a responsive, easy to use portal to enable HubSpot’s marketing solutions for our customers’ challenges. If the portal and accompanying APIs are slow to respond, our customers cannot get their work done and become dissatisfied.”
Cloudflare’s Argo Smart Routing was added to improve response times for HubSpot customer sites across Cloudflare’s global network, beyond what could be delivered with basic CDN caching. “When we added Argo, we observed a 35% performance improvement” said Munz. “We’ve been very pleased with the partnership we’ve built with Cloudflare” said Munz. “As HubSpot grows and evolves, we plan on expanding our use of Cloudflare to other areas at HubSpot. We are very happy with them as a trusted partner.”
Deployed SSL for 47,000 customer sites
35% performance improvement
“We’ve been very pleased with the partnership we’ve built with Cloudflare. As HubSpot grows and evolves, we plan on expanding our use of Cloudflare to other areas at HubSpot. We are very happy with them as a trusted partner.”
Director of Engineering, Platform Infrastructure