Netflix has always been an extremely progressive company. I know the founders, Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings well, and many of the employees too. There is an amazing amount of brainpower behind the scenes there and it shows with their great products and great story.
I read with interest Larry Dignan’s piece about their usage of Amazon Web Services to move key parts of the Netflix infrastructure into the Cloud. It doesn’t seem that long since I remember being asked to visit Netflix and tell them about my company’s experience moving into the Amazon Cloud. I expected to meet in Reed Hasting’s office with perhaps a couple of people, but was surprised to find they had assembled a small auditorium of developers to hear the story. I spent a little over an hour telling them how we’d done it and answering questions and then went away.
As an aside, this is how smart companies go to school–by sharing information broadly rather than hoarding it at the top, and by bringing in outsiders who can add to the collective knowledge pool. When was the last time your company did something like this? It’s so easy here in Silicon Valley, which is dense with sharp insights and hard-won experience. Take advantage of it, it’s the least you can do after paying the high cost of living here!
I admit, I wondered whether they’d carry it off or even get started, or whether they were just curious. Moving to the Cloud is a big step for a big thriving company. There are a lot of moving parts that have to be orchestrated for it to be successful. But as I said, they are an extremely progressive company with a lot of very bright people. Color me very impressed with the speed at which they were able to move.
PS Amazon has a press release / case study with more detail on just what Netflix is doing.