Cloudflare Access & Cloudflare Workers Enable TOPdesk’s Global Expansion

TOPdesk’s cloud-based enterprise service management solution helps service-focused departments within organizations enhance efficiency and offer better service to internal and external end-customers. Using the TOPdesk application, service desk teams can manage incidents, create workflows, keep track of configurations, and gain visibility into the types of problems their users face. The platform enables real-time monitoring of current support requests, secure sharing of requests among support team members, and storage of historical data.

From its 15 worldwide office locations, over 750 TOPdesk employees help companies support more than 10 million end users.

“TOPdesk has been around for over 25 years, and we are experts in service management,” says Sybren van Wijk, Technical Product Owner. “We go beyond delivering a software product, to help our customers excel in service management.”

Challenge: Efficiently scale to support rapid global expansion

TOPdesk’s application was sold exclusively as desktop software until 2003, when the company began providing it as a SaaS solution. The switch was very successful and led to significant customer growth, including expansion into international markets.

However, as its customer base grew, the way in which TOPdesk supported its own customers needed to evolve. “Whenever we enter a new country, the TOPdesk application is used in a different way, and it must comply with different data privacy and security requirements,” van Wijk explains. “More international customers meant more complex challenges for our customer support representatives.”

TOPdesk customers are required to opt in to allow TOPdesk representatives to access their environments remotely and assist with problems or questions. TOPdesk representatives did this using an internally designed application that was originally configured to be accessible from TOPdesk office locations only. It was also designed when the company had a simpler product and a much smaller customer base. As TOPDesk embraced a 24x7, global business model, support representatives encountered performance issues that inhibited their ability to assist customers.

“Going global while maintaining our high standards of performance and dependability was challenging,” van Wijk recalls. “We needed to fix our underlying infrastructure so that we could continue delivering on our core value.”

TOPdesk needed a new solution that would scale well and give customer support representatives always-on access to the support tool. The solution also needed to accommodate GDPR compliance regulations, which mandate that TOPdesk employees be able to access only the information customers permit them to, and no more.

Solution: Cloudflare Access & Cloudflare Workers lay the foundation for TOPdesk’s global expansion

At the time, TOPdesk was already using Cloudflare SSL for SaaS, Argo, and Workers. “Workers is the basic layer that makes our SaaS infrastructure multi-tenant,” explains van Wijk. “We ran into problems when we started scaling more customers on our SaaS platform; our internal codebase could not keep up. Workers greatly improved performance and enabled our app to seamlessly scale from hundreds of customers to thousands and beyond. Since installing Workers, traffic to the app has doubled, but performance has remained the same.”

His previous success with Cloudflare solutions prompted van Wijk to use Cloudflare Access to solve the issues that his support representatives were facing. Specifically, putting Access in front of the internal customer support application would allow TOPdesk’s support technicians to securely access the platform at any time, from any location.

TopDesk first used Access to connect a small group of developers to internal dashboards that were previously accessible only behind a VPN. “We had a very small number of colleagues who needed to work from home even before the pandemic,” recalls van Wijk. “Access made it much easier and faster for them to access dashboards and information. We quickly became confident that Access was the way to go forward, and we decided to switch our customer support application to Access.”

By authenticating employee login requests at the edge before the request even reaches Workers, Access allows TOPdesk to keep their Workers codebase lightweight. “Access makes sure that any employee who is trying to enter a customer’s environment is authorized to do so. We don’t have to write any code in Workers to ensure that the login request is valid; Access already does that.”

In a twist of fate, van Wijk decided to add additional Access seats about a week prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. When TOPdesk’s employees had to be sent home to work, the company was ready. “All of our customer support personnel and all of our SaaS engineers were already using Access, so there were no changes in how they had to work.”

TOPdesk’s developers enjoyed similar flexibility. “Having our developers work remotely wasn’t our primary goal at the outset, but when everyone had to go work at home, it really helped that they didn’t have to fight with remote login solutions just to access some information.”

“We were already happy with Cloudflare Access before COVID-19, and it ended up being a big save when our team had to work remotely,” van Wijk continues. “Because our employees didn’t have to struggle with apps that weren’t designed for remote access, our platform kept running smoothly, and our customer base experienced no interruptions in support. We’ve had an all-around amazing experience with Cloudflare. Their ease of use and onboarding has been phenomenal compared to our other vendors, and they are enabling us to scale confidently and securely.”

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Key Results
  • Cloudflare Workers automatically scales the TOPdesk application globally and at the edge.

  • Cloudflare Access and Workers secure, accelerate, and enable 24x7 remote access to a business-critical customer support application.

  • TOPdesk’s clients experienced no interruption in platform access or customer support when COVID-19 forced all employees to work remotely.

We were already happy with Cloudflare Access before COVID-19, and it ended up being a big save when our team had to work remotely. Because our employees didn’t have to struggle with apps that weren’t designed for remote access, our platform kept running smoothly, and our customer base experienced no interruptions in support.

Sybren van Wijk
Technical Product Owner