The next time you queue up a movie or other show on Netflix, know that what you are experiencing is all borne of the cloud.
Maybe you didn't bother thinking about that previously, but that's OK. Many people are taking cloud computing for granted a lot now, and it's only been 10 years since Amazon Web Services was launched to make it mainstream.
Netflix, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based provider of subscription entertainment services, has closed its last data center and is now using only AWS to deploy its movies and short-form programs, Fortune reported Feb. 12.
In a microcosm of where the IT world is headed, Netflix closed the data center in late January in a process that was started eight years ago. The company, which announced this move last summer, uses Google services for its storage archives.
Netflix made the move because it believes that the public cloud is more reliable and cost-effective for showing movies than its own in-house data centers, maintaining that those data centers were never core parts of its business. However, the streaming media provider does continue to run its own content delivery network (CDN) and DVD distribution business using its own data centers.
Netflix has long been one of the world's largest Internet bandwidth users, accounting for 34 to 40 percent of total Internet bandwidth at peak times (7 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily). YouTube accounts for 13 to 15 percent and Facebook 2 to 3 percent, according to network hardware vendor Sandvine, which publishes regular reports on this sector.
Netflix's DVD business still has about 4.5 million subscribers to its DVD service, down from 13 million five years ago.
"Our journey to the cloud at Netflix began in August 2008, when we experienced a major database corruption and for three days could not ship DVDs to our members," wrote Netflix Vice President of Cloud Engineering Yuri Izrailevsky in his blog. "That is when we realized that we had to move away from vertically scaled single points of failure, like relational databases in our data center, towards highly reliable, horizontally scalable, distributed systems in the cloud.
"We rely on the cloud for all of our scalable computing and storage needs—our business logic, distributed databases and big data processing/analytics, recommendations, transcoding, and hundreds of other functions that make up the Netflix application," Izrailevsky wrote.