Video services

Netflix Cloud Casts Long Shadow Over Cable

Netflix closed the last of its data center operations supporting its streaming video service last week, and now boasts a "cloud-native" architecture powering not only its consumer-facing services, but also its billing infrastructure and data management systems. The architecture rests in the public cloud, using virtual storage and computing instances operated by Amazon Web Services.

If there was ever a more stark contrast between OTT video provider Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and the monolithic operations of the cable industry, it's hard to imagine.

Even as the most forward-thinking cable operators are now migrating to cloud-based video delivery, the industry as a whole still has a long way to go before it reaches Netflix's level of cloud sophistication. The language isn't even the same. Cable operators talk about CCAP chassis and the real estate demands of video headends and hubs. Netflix talks about virtual servers and micro-services and the elasticity of Amazon's cloud.

As in the telecom industry -- where vendors like AsiaInfo Inc. (Nasdaq: ASIA) are pushing to migrate BSS systems into the public cloud -- the cable conversation is slowly changing. (See Amazon, AsiaInfo Team Up to Disrupt the Telco Back Office.)

For more on TV technology trends, check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a loud proponent of open source technologies and has been using Amazon Web Services Inc. as a backup system for years. The company's engineers are also working hard to make Comcast's network more dynamic and programmable. (See Speed, Agility, Virtualization – Is This Cable? and Cable Forecast: Cloudy With a Chance of DevOps.)

But there is still transformative work to do, and nothing makes that clearer than the completion of Netflix's eight-year journey into the cloud.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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kq4ym 2/23/2016 | 3:49:00 PM
Re: Counterpoint It may be interesting to see if there's any pattern on who stays successful and profitable in future years based on the early adoption to the cloud. As "the completion of Netflix's eight-year journey into the cloud," may shed some light on others as they move forward or not.
Joe Stanganelli 2/21/2016 | 11:40:40 AM
Re: cloud native Highly regulated sectors could learn from Netflix's slow, careful, and redundant cloud approach.  Healthcare, life sciences, and financial services companies are afraid of the cloud, but by carefully piecemealing hybrid solutions over a long period of time to see what works and what doesn't compliance-wise and privacy-wise, they could benefit from tremendous operational savings in the long run.
jbtombes 2/16/2016 | 10:50:18 PM
cloud native The Netflix post by Y Izrailevsky (et al.) answers the question of why it took so long - 7 plus years - to migrate to AWS. Answer: rather than simply forklift, they took the cloud-native approach or rethinking and rebuilding their entire operations. A big deal. Even forklifting into AWS is no mean achievement, esp for smaller companies with less clout.
msilbey 2/16/2016 | 5:50:46 PM
Re: Counterpoint Comcast is very much an exception to the cable industry norm, and even there, the company is still managing a significant footprint of legacy hardware and technology systems.

That said, I don't disagree that Comcast has made some incredibly savvy technical moves.   
dwaiting 2/16/2016 | 5:43:22 PM
Counterpoint Astute industry followers know that Comcast runs its own exceptionally large private cloud. The many applications that run on that cloud can be migrated to a public cloud, like AWS, relatively easily. Netflix, on the other hand, would be hard-pressed to build a private cloud at this point.

Perhaps the author should rethink which company is really in the stronger technical position.
thebulk 2/16/2016 | 12:19:23 PM
Re: Too big to fail I would agree that the volume will help keep Amazon honest, but I am also sure that Netflix has some check and balences in place. 
mendyk 2/16/2016 | 11:51:22 AM
Re: Too big to fail The pyramids... of course. So much for my history degree. To your point, Amazon is well down the reinvention path -- and seems to be moving in the direction of actual meaningful profitability, although that doesn't seem to be a top priority for Mr. Bezos. 
brooks7 2/16/2016 | 11:37:11 AM
Re: Too big to fail Dennis,

See the Pyramids....


PS - I get your point and I try to make it all the time.  The only constant is change.  But there are rare (very rare) exceptions.  I like to think about how IBM has had to reinvent itself over and over again.  The same with GE.  

mendyk 2/16/2016 | 10:58:23 AM
Re: Too big to fail As historians would be quick to point out, nothing lasts 1,000 years. But even setting sights to the nearer-term future, diversification of suppliers is the ideal. And I wonder if completely exiting the self-owned DC business is a wise move, beyond the assumed benefit of lowering costs for the present.
msilbey 2/16/2016 | 10:46:47 AM
Re: Too big to fail It's hard to imagine the AWS assets going away even if something happened to Amazon the company. (And what would it take to take out Amazon?) As for Netflix putting itself in the hands of a competitor, the sheer volume of business should be enough to keep Amazon honest. If I had to guess, though, I would guess that Netflix eventually diversifies on the cloud hosting front. It will be easier to operate across multiple clouds in the future, and diversity of suppliers is usually preferable. 
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