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Netflix wants open-source developers, cloud alternatives

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Netflix(s nflx) has made a name for itself by open-sourcing tools to fill gaps in Amazon(s amzn) Web Services’ cloud and make deployment easier to manage.  Now it wants to show off the other goodies it has in the pipeline — and recruit open-source development whizzes in the process. The company will host an Open Source Open House at its Los Gatos, Calif. headquarters February 6, which will feature talks by Adrian Cockcroft, Netflix cloud architect, and Ruslan Meshenberg, director of cloud platform engineering.

Netflix' Ruslan Meshenberg
Netflix’ Ruslan Meshenberg

Netflix open-sourced its Asgard cloud management tool in June, then followed with Chaos Monkey for testing the limits of a public cloud deployment, Eureka for load balancing capability and Edda for faster dynamic queries. Most recently,  it open-sourced Janitor Monkey to automate the cleanup of unused cloud resources. In all, Netflix has put source code for sixteen Netflix-built AWS tools on Github, Cockcroft said.

“We’re putting these projects out there one by one and have gotten really good community response. What we’d like to do is get the community engaged on the Netflix platform, as a whole, on how to use these components better together,” Meshenberg said.

Netflix will also give attendees of the February 6 event a glimpse of the other tools it has on tap. “We have a whole lot more Simian Monkeys we use internally — five or ten of them,” Cockcroft said.

Netflix hope its open-source cred will attract developer talent that fits its culture. “We’re in competition with the other big companies in the Bay Area, [like] Google(s goog) and Facebook(s fb), but we like very senior people for our relatively small team.”

The end game may be much bigger than that, however. If other cloud providers adopt Netflix tools, that could lead to the construction of more scalable public cloud alternatives to AWS itself.

“If  the Netflix platform gets legs, people will figure out how to make it more portable…we want someone else to lead that piece and then we’ll follow,” said Cockcroft. “We see interest from the Amazon clone vendors in picking up our tooling and porting it to Eucalyptus, OpenStack, CloudStack and other public cloud infrastructure suppliers.”

Netflix runs on Amazon’s public cloud, and that dependence has been a double-edged sword. Netflix has been able to bolster AWS for its own purposes with Asgard and other tools, but it’s still also been laid low — as recently as Christmas Eve —  by AWS problems. It makes sense for the company to encourage the construction of alternative, scalable clouds.

9 Responses to “Netflix wants open-source developers, cloud alternatives”

  1. Alexey Semeney

    Open-source developers are not cloud alternatives, they just developers. And don’t forget about MS Windows Azure – they will overtake Amazon very soon.

  2. Thx Adrian. I have not been to the bay area (Sunnyvale, etc) since I was in the AF in the early 90’s. From what I remember, I did like the weather. Not so much the traffic. :)

  3. adrian cockcroft

    Netflix has a public cloud only strategy, there are other companies who are already using parts of the NetflixOSS platform for private clouds, and companies who want to help make that easier by porting more of the platform. Part of what we are doing is creating an ecosystem to support those activities.

    If you’d like to move to the Bay Area, Netflix generally pays better than the big companies we’re competing with, and the local cost of living usually isn’t an obstacle.

    Someone figured out how to run Netflix on Linux desktop recently by bundling some Windows compatible components. It’s a tiny market, so there was no business case to support it directly. Netflix has contributed heavily to open source over the last years. That’s a much more useful payback.

    Also I have no idea what Alan above is talking about.


    Netflix Engineering have the bad reputation to take your ideas and intellectual property and then make it “Open Source”.

    All the former “partners” I know that made “business” with Netflix ends they short-term agreements really, really upset and end tagged as “competitors”.

    This practice also apply to engineers who got interviewed by Netflix.

  5. Not so surprising after their challenges during the holidays. It is not a secure business that can be disrupted intentionally or otherwise by their biggest competitor. We wrote up this problem on Christmas Day as “How the Amazon Grinch stole Netflix’s Christmas.”

    Interestingly, there may be a push for public/private (or hybrid) cloud for Netflix and others in the same position. Cover expectations with private cloud and only surges with public.

    • Chris, so do you think that internal IT staff can create a better cloud than AWS? I doubt it. So you are trading one problem for another. I think the solution is that AWS needs to take some pages out of Netflx’s book because the Christmas issue seems like it could have been prevented if they had (read AWS’ accessment and Netflix’s and then the Jan 4 techblog post)

  6. I wish they could/would expand this beyond Los Gatos. Not only are they up against the other companies in that area for talent, they are up against high cost of living, etc. I looked at their job listings over the weekend. But when i saw they were all California based … . At least they were not LA.

  7. For a company that has benefited so heavily from years of work from open source developers, they have made surprisingly little effort to support streaming on an open source desktop environment.