Slowly, but inexorably, DigitalOcean is broadening its franchise. This week, it’s Cloud Firewalls

Back in the day, DigitalOcean was a simple thing to explain. They did cheap and cheerful cloud servers and storage. Think of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the early days. But then, over time, they’ve been forced by customer demand and market forces to broaden the franchise. A month or two ago it was cloud load balancers, for example.

This move is continuing with the announcement today that – under the backdrop of 312 individual data breaches in Q1 this year already – the company is launching a Cloud Firewalls product. This move is aimed not only at increasing the revenue that existing customers pay the company but, perhaps more importantly, a dual whammy of broadening the appeal to new customers AND giving DigitalOcean the opportunity to move higher up the value chain. Still not enterprise-level, but getting closer.

One thing that isn’t changing is DigitalOcean’s focus on keeping things simple and easy to use. The company is promising that the firewall will be easy to deploy, especially for developers with large numbers of servers. It does not require the installation of any software and can be activated on a developer’s infrastructure with a single click. In terms of simplicity, developers can centrally manage rules across their entire infrastructure. With other solutions, a developer would have to install and configure firewall rules on various servers individually, resulting in errors and time loss.

It is interesting to note DigitalOcean trying to answer the eternal questions about their ability to move up the enterprise food chain. In the materials that go along with this release, they reference a 2016 GitLab Enterprise Survey, which found that 92% of developers prefer using the same development tools for work and personal projects. Tellingly, they also point out the view that, this added layer of security better positions DigitalOcean to be taken into the workplace.

The service is actually free and secures DigitalOcean’s Droplets (their term for cloud servers) by reducing the surface area for any potential attack. Firewalls joins the free monitoring service that DigitalOcean launched a couple of months ago and is a key part of DigitalOcean’s continuous effort to add value back to developers by allowing them to deploy and scale applications of any size.

The firewall product scales automatically from one Droplet to thousands and provides a central location for defining and applying access rules to prevent unauthorized traffic from reaching them. Users can leverage tagging to a group and organize any number of Droplets, and use them to define how each group of Droplets is secured. Cloud Firewalls gives users the ability to whitelist which ports are open and which IP ranges, tags, Droplets or load balancers can access them. Users can configure the service through the dashboard or on the command line with doctl. They can also leverage DigitalOcean’s API to automate tasks and build integrations. Official client libraries are available in Go and Ruby. Rules can be changed in one place and instantly applied to every Droplet that is tagged and the service is available in every region to all Droplet customers at no additional cost.


I’ve been fascinated to see how DigitalOcean will answer the eternal questions around moving from a developer-centric business to one which can also foot it in the enterprise. Firewalls doesn’t totally answer those questions, but it goes some way to doing so.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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