Netflix announced this week it was launching its very own content delivery network to help distribute its content across the Internet, but not only that, it was also open sourcing all of the network’s components.
If you aren’t familiar with CDN’s, they are high performance content delivery systems made up of a series of servers distributed at key points across the Internet. The idea is to provide a way to keep content such as streaming media flowing smoothly to the delivery point (your PC, mobile device or TV).
The new system is called Open Connect and it will work with other private CDNs that Netflix currently uses. The system is aimed at Internet Service Providers, which can find ways to connect into the CDN and provide better service delivery for Netflix’s extremely popular service.
The move makes sense on a number of levels, but most of all it’s very likely going to save Netflix a lot of money spent paying CDN vendors. By offering its own services, it can probably do it more efficiently and save money in the process.
But it’s not stopping there. It also announced it would be sharing their hardware design and the open source software server components. As Ken Florance, VP of content delivery (great title, eh?) wrote on the Netflix blog:
“These cost-efficient designs are suitable for any high-volume provider of large media files. We welcome commentary and improvements, which will be shared with the community with the goal of a faster, less expensive Internet for all.”
Sounds like a beautiful thing doesn’t it? Of course, it’s in Netflix’s best interest to provide cost-effective and reliable bandwidth and to get more people standardized on Netflix’s designs, but whatever the reason, it’s something that many IT pros at companies that deliver high volume content may want to at least explore.
It’s no secret that Netflix is a popular service. In fact, in Sandvine’s most recent Global Internet Phenomena report, Netflix overall percentage of Internet peak downstream traffic has been increasing steadily and in the most recent report accounted for 32.9 percent of peak downstream traffic. Sandvine says that makes Netflix the largest driver of such traffic.
While Sandvine thinks Netflix’s dominance in this area may be peaking and could drop down to 32.5 percent in the second half of this year as competing streaming services begin to get a foot hold, Netflix still accounts for a significant portion of traffic on any given day and if ISPs install Open Connect appliances in key locations, they could help ease the burden of the Netflix traffic on the rest of the system.
This may not be of use for everyone, but it’s certainly an interesting approach to the problem and the fact that Netflix is opening the entire process from the hardware designs to the software to the community makes it even more so.
Photo by Matt Perreault on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.