Cloud Rockstar 2013: Netflix is ​​the undisputed king of cloud computing

I think it is time to ennobling a company for its work in the cloud. Unlike to what one might imagine now, it is not one of the providers. No! Even though it’s the providers that create the capabilities, it’s the customers who ultimately make something out of it and show the general public the power of the cloud. Here, of course, you have to distinguish the ordinary customers from those who show a lot of commitment and have adapted the way of thinking cloud and thus also architecturally make a lot of effort. To make it short, the king of the cloud is Netflix and especially Adrian Cockroft, the father of the Netflix cloud architecture.

Born for the cloud

Before Netflix has decided to use its system in the cloud (migration from their own infrastructure), the company spent a lot of time trying to understand the cloud and build a test system within the cloud infrastructure. In particular, at this a lot of care was taken to generate as much realistic traffic scenarios as possible in order to examine the test-system for its stability.

Netflix initially developed a simple repeater that copied the real and complete customer requests to the system within the cloud infrastructure. Thus Netflix identified the possible bottlenecks of its system architecture and optimized in the course its scalability.

Netflix itself describes its software architecture like aa Rambo architecture. This has the fact that each system must properly function independently of the other systems. For this purpose each system within the distributed architecture was developed to be prepared that other systems to which a dependency exists, can fail and that this is tolerated.

For example, if the evaluation system fails, the quality of the answers deteriorated, but it will still answer. Instead of personalized offerings only known titles will be shown. If the system, that is responsible for the search function, is intolerably slow, the streaming of movies must still function properly.

Chaos Monkey: The secret star

One of the first systems that Netflix has developed on and for the cloud is called “Chaos Monkey”. His job is to randomly destroy instances and services within the architecture. Thus, Netflix ensures that all components function independently, even if partial components fail.

In addition to the Chaos Monkey Netflix has developed many other monitoring and testing tools for the operation of its system in the cloud, which the company calls as The Netflix Simian Army.

Netflix Simian Army: The role model

The Netflix Simian Army is an extreme example, how a cloud architecture has to look. The company has invested a lot of time, effort and capital in the development of its system architecture that runs on the cloud infrastructure of the Amazon Web Services. But it is worth, and any company that wants to use the cloud seriously to present a highly available offering, should definitely take Netflix as a role model.

The effort illustrates the complexity of the cloud

Bottom line, Netflix plans in the case of an error and does not rely on the cloud. Because sometimes something goes wrong in the cloud, as in any ordinary data center. You only have to be prepared for it.

Netflix shows very impressively that it works.

However, when you consider what an effort Netflix is doing to be successful in the cloud, you just have to say that cloud computing is not simple and a cloud infrastructure, no matter at which provider, needs to be built with the corresponding architecture.

This means, conversely, that the use of the cloud must become simpler in order to achieve the promised cost advantages. Because if one uses cloud computing right, it is not necessarily cheaper. In addition to savings in infrastructure costs which are always pre-calculated, the other costs may never be neglected for the staff with the appropriate skills and the costs for the development of scalable and fault-tolerant application in the cloud.

Successful and socially at once

Most companies keep their success for themselves. The competitive advantage is unwillingly given out of hand. But not Netflix. At regularly distance of time, parts of the Simian Army are released under the open source license, with each cloud users get the possibility to develop cloud applications with the architecture DNA of Netflix.

Cloud Rockstar 2013

Due to its success, and in particular its involvement in and for the cloud, it is high time, to ennoble Netflix publicly. Netflix has understood to use the cloud almost in perfection and not to keep the success for themselves. Instead, the company is giving other cloud users the opportunity to build similarly highly scalable and highly available cloud applications using the same tools and services.

For that reason the analysts of New Age Disruption and appoint Netflix to be the “Cloud Rockstar 2013” in the category “best cloud user”. This independent award from New Age Disruption is presented this year for the first time. Giving to vendors and users for their innovations and extraordinary commitment in cloud computing.

Congratulations Netflix and Adrian Cockcroft!

Rene Buest

Cloud Rockstar 2013 - Netflix

Further information: Cloud Rockstar Award

By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.