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Cloud Businesses

Why Netflix Is One of the Most Important Cloud Computing Companies 111

Brandon Butler writes "Netflix, yes the video rental company Netflix, is changing the cloud game. During the past two years the company has pulled back the curtains through its Netflix OSS program to provide a behind-the-scenes look into how it runs one of the largest deployments of Amazon Web Services cloud-based resources. In doing so, the company is creating tools that can be used by both entire business-size scale cloud deployments and even smaller test environments. The Simian Army, for example randomly kills off VMs or entire availability zones in Amazon's cloud to test fault tolerance, Asgard is a cloud resource dashboard and Lipstick on (Apache) Pig, is a data visualization tool for the Hadoop program; there are dozens of others that help deploy, manage and monitor the tens of thousands of VM instances the company company can be running at any single time. Netflix is also creating a cadre of developers who are experts in managing cloud deployments, and already its former employees are popping up at other companies to bring their expertise on how to run a large-scale cloud resources. Meanwhile, Netflix does this all in AWS's cloud, which raises some questions of how good of a job it's actually doing when it can be massively impacted by cloud outages, such as the one on Christmas Eve last year that brought down Netflix's services but, interestingly, not Amazon's own video streaming system, which is a competitor to the company."
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Why Netflix Is One of the Most Important Cloud Computing Companies

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  • Netfilx works (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MpVpRb ( 1423381 ) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @07:23PM (#44386699)

    While I watch Netflix, I sometimes think about all of the magic that must be going on behind the scenes to deal with varying delivery speed

    In almost all cases, my video entertainment proceeds, uninterrupted

    As a guy who has worked with video streaming at the lowest level, I have nothing but respect for their tech

    • Re:Netfilx works (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KhabaLox ( 1906148 ) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @07:56PM (#44386953)

      It's no small feat the transcoding automation they must have built to take the mezzanine files that they get delivered to them and create the packages of multi-bitrate, DRM-wrapped files that the consumer eventually sees. There are only a handful (maybe only 3) of companies that can do this on any type of scale.

  • Open Source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bradmont ( 513167 ) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @07:28PM (#44386731)
    It frustrates me that a company that relies so heavily on open source technologies on the server totally snubs users of those same open source technologies on the Desktop.
    • Netflix uses FreeBSD as its OS of choice and doesn't FreeBSD-using OS X users.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Desktop OSS doesn't support the required DRM they use, so they don't have much of a choice. If Linux supported Playready, and had more than a tiny desktop market share, they'd probably do it.

      And no, they are not about to give up DRM. That isn't an option, so you don't even have to bother with the kneejerk "just give up DRM" reply. If you want to watch Netflix on your PC, use an OS that supports the required functionality. Your complaint is like saying, "I bought this subcompact car, and it can't haul th

      • Re:Open Source (Score:5, Informative)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday July 25, 2013 @09:28PM (#44387489) Homepage Journal

        I can run Netflix on Windows XP in a VM on Linux. But I can't run Netflix on Windows XP in a VM on Windows XP. This tells me two things. One, the DRM actually kicked in there somehow. Two, it doesn't kick in reliably enough to be worth one tenth of one shit. If you can capture the video output from vmware, and you can, then you can capture netflix streams without anything exotic.

        OTOH I haven't tried this experiment using a guest OS which supports vsync on Silverlight video, i.e. Vista or later

        • by Ghjnut ( 1843450 )
          This actually works pretty well for me: []
          • So far I've got an error about not being able to find a mono package, then a checksum failure downloading it. That's the first thing it did. Not looking good.

            • Well, double-reply fail. But here is my report. On Phenom II X6 1045T and 240GT with 8GB, Netflix desktop plays like shit. The audio is OK but the video is stuttery. It's butter-smooth in an XP VM. Netflix Desktop is shit.

        • by kriston ( 7886 )

          My Google Chromebook shows me that the Netflix app is no longer exclusively using Silverlight since at least Spring 2013 and possibly earlier.

          Last year, the Chromebook was using a Silverlight-like plugin, possibly a Mono derivative. Today, it's not using either, and is apparently using HTML 5 embedded video.

          • by laird ( 2705 )

            They play different formats to different platforms, and have for quite a while. Windows and Mac get Silverlight. ChromeOS, iOS and Android gets HTML 5, which I would assume the media companies approved because they're relatively controlled platforms. They also deliver straight to set-top boxes and "smart" TVs, though I'm not sure what format - probably not Silverlight given that the devices are quite limited and Silverlight is huge. But desktop browsers support "Premium Video Extensions" (DRM) then they'll

          • My solution was to buy an Android device. I initially considered one of the old Google TV devices which will play AIS video but I decided it wasn't that important, I don't really need prime anyway since so much of the stuff I order is cheaper on eBay with or without free shipping, which is often available. I had two Rikomagic MK802 devices (a MkIII and a MkIIIS) which were both garbage; the first one seemed to have a short across the power connector and the second one was just flaky in every way and nothing

            • by kriston ( 7886 )

              Of all the responses I get on my Slashdot postings, I value drinkypoo's responses among those of the highest quality.

              • I only wish I could get paid to advertise this USB stick. I do not declare that it is good, only that it is less crap than the other ones I have tried.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          You seem to be under the mistaken impression that Netflix cares at all whether you can capture the video output. They don't. They use products that the copyright owners have signed off on, and the only relevant challenge is getting that sign-off.

          WIn2008 on Win2008 VM works fine, BTW, though I've never felt the need to try to capture the video stream. What would I want with a varying-bitrate video stream when I can just watch it again in Netflix?

  • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @11:28PM (#44388061) Homepage Journal

    I've been a user of both services since they became available. Along with Amazon Unbox now becoming Amazon Instant Video and the even newer Amazon Instant Video with Prime, I humbly suggest that we consider that a large part of the Amazon Prime streaming library may actually be served to us by a white-label Netflix service.

    Consider this: both Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video offer many of the same programming options with a few selections unavailable on one service or the other. Plus, there are many obscure series collections that appear on both services and at the same perceived video quality (at least, to my eyes).

    The bulk of the live streaming library has to be shared, in my opinion, with Netflix. Business-wise, it makes sense. Logically, it makes even more sense.

  • I still go to my local video store to rent movies or buy the DVDF/Bluray. I get commenataries, extra scenes and can watch it whenever I want. Eventually, Netflix deletes stuff from their libraries. What do we do with a movie we want to see again later? Some cloud services I do use, like Crunchyroll. But I much rather get the DVD set.
    • Most of the DVD-rental places near me have closed and they removed a lot of those RedBox kiosks. So now I use Netflix and iTunes.

      Sure, back in the day when I could just drive or walk 3/4 of a mile somewhere and get my DVDs (or VHS way back) it wasn't that bad. Although I had to deal with the fact that the movie I wanted to see wasn't in selection: either popular and it was rented out, or not popular enough and they either zero copies or only 1 copy that someone hadn't returned yet. Or maybe they put the

      • You are in a very sorry state if you cannot walk a mile--I promise you, you will feel much better if you walk rather than drive. Please leave the car in the garage. I'll walk wiith you and keep you company. Further, if you cannot find what you want to rent, rent something else. I can give you suggestions. My shop still has a good selection. I like the walk out to the shop. In fact, I like walking in general. With DVD's, I like the commentaries and bonus scenes. If I really want the movie, I buy it. My choi
        • Read the message again. I said it USED to be 3/4 of a mile away and in walking distance. I used to walk down to that shopping center for the exercise.

          But THEN they closed those down.

          NOW the nearest rental place is a 20-30 minute drive. That's like 9 miles each way, 18 round-trip. That's not worth the walk unless I want to make a big afternoon exercise excursion out of it.

      • BTW, you can get your DVDs or BluRays from Netflix too. Heck, even if you want a DVD or BluRay *NOW*, you can get it from a RedBox, and you don't have to worry about finding a disc to rent, because you can do *that* part the task from home (or anywhere, with the smartphone app).

        I say this as someone who doesn't currently subscribe to Netflix, but was a DVD only customer after they split off the two services. (I *will* eventually resubscribe to watch Arrested Development... and I currently have a discounte

        • Oh dude, stay the hell away from Amazon []
        • I used to use Netflix DVD renting, but I watched few enough movies that I wound up paying for months and months of idle usage. So I eventually cut the cord.

          RedBox is similarly far away, about as far as the nearest DVD rental store. They used to have one at the same shopping-mall where the DVD rental store was. But then the RedBox went away and got replaced by an A&P equivalent rental-machine. And then the A&P rental-machine went away.

          So between Netflix OnDemand and iTunes rental I'm covered for

  • by Lincolnshire Poacher ( 1205798 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:22AM (#44388909)

    Impressive technology, though I don't agree with some of the testing they do live in production. But important? Hardly. If Netflix went away right *now*, nothing inthe World would really change.

    Compared to, say, Google's search going offline which would have a direct impact on both personal and business productivity globally.

  • I refuse to do business with Netflix, because they send [] spam []. Yes, I have personally received unsolicited commercial E-mail from Netflix, like the people writing at the two links I cite. Any company that uses and/or promotes spam should be boycotted and shunned.

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