Netflix wraps up Amazon cloud migration, rolls credits on last video streaming datacenter

Marking the end of a seven-year migration to the Amazon Web Services cloud, Netflix has shuttered the last datacenter for its video-streaming business.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Netflix says it's moved from a "monolithic app to hundreds of microservices" and shifted to NoSQL databases.

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Amazon Web Services poster-child Netflix says it has just completed a seven-year journey to the enterprise cloud, having now closed it last datacenter serving the streaming business.

In a blog post to mark the occasion, Yuri Izrailevsky, Netflix's vice president of cloud and platform engineering, said the movie- and TV-streaming company passed that milestone in January, when a datacenter used for billing, and customer and employee data management ceased operations.

"Arguably, the easiest way to move to the cloud is to forklift all the systems, unchanged, out of the datacenter and drop them in AWS. But in doing so, you end up moving all the problems and limitations of the datacenter along with it," Izrailevsky explained.

Instead, it chose a "cloud-native approach", in which it switched from a "monolithic app to hundreds of microservices" and a shift to NoSQL databases. Besides architecture, the company also needed to develop new systems, skills and tools, such as its cloud stress tester, Chaos Monkey.

The closure of the final datacenter came as Netflix launched its service globally, which now reaches more than 130 countries, covering most available markets except for China.

"It took time and effort to transform Netflix into a cloud-native company, but it put us in a much better position to continue to grow and become a global TV network."

While the move places Netflix's datacenter infrastructure entirely on AWS hardware, the company does operate its own Open Connect content delivery network (CDN), consisting of a global network of cache servers placed at ISPs, which store content closer to users and cater to local bandwidth conditions.

Netflix made the switch from third-party CDN providers, such as Akamai and Limelight Networks, in 2012.

Izrailevsky added that cost played second fiddle to elasticity as its main reason for moving to the cloud. Using multiple AWS regions also allows it to shift capacity around the world and enables it to add "petabytes of storage within minutes".

The one part of Netflix that remains served by its own datacenters is its DVD business, Izrailevsky told Ars Technica. Izrailevsky said the DVD business is "stable", suggesting it isn't displaying the eight-fold growth its streaming business has experienced since 2008.

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