NGINX Exec Talks about Netflix CDN Open Server Deal


Netflix's open server deal with NGINX was a winner for everyone including users and ISPs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day we wrote about the new Netflix initiative to build its own Content Delivery Network with open source server designs and software. NGINX, a company based in Russia, is the Netflix’s server vendor for this project — and I talked to Andrey Alexeev, who is in charge of business development at NGINX about the deal.

NGINX makes highly scalable Internet servers, and that’s one of the reasons Netflix came calling. In fact, my colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reported earlier this year that NGINIX (which Vaughan-Nichols writes is pronounced Engine-X) is the number two Internet server in the world, trailing only the highly popular Internet Information Services (IIS) from Microsoft in a report at the time of the article.

Even before the Netflix deal, Vaughan-Nichols reported that as of January, NGINX was running 9.63 percent of all web sites in the world.

Vaughan-Nichols explained the popularity of these servers: “These Web sites, and millions of others, have moved to NGINX because it’s very fast and uses few system resources. The company has claimed that NGINX can deliver 10 times the performance of the leading Web server on the same hardware,” he wrote.

Alexeev explained further, “NGINX has a different architecture – 10x more scalable per the same server (essentially – provides the ability to “scale up” inside one server with just the software, without adding hardware components, without “scaling out” by adding more Apache-based servers),” he said.

He added, ” NGINX’s architecture is non-blocking, asynchronous, event-driven and modular – with a compact core and a set of functional modules.  This leads to ridiculously low memory consumption per active connection, predictable CPU and memory usage, optimized configuration which is especially important in a virtualized environment,” Alexeev explained.

When it comes to the specific requirements for Netflix, he said they were looking for simplicity to make this as easy on ISPs as possible. “Each CDN server is made specifically to be most easily deployed, mostly unmanaged by the ISP, fully remotely controlled, fault tolerant and extremely cost efficient (like 10 times more efficient when performance/bandwidth characteristics per server compared to “commercial products”),” he said.

NGINX worked closely with Netflix to come with specifications for their requirements. He said overall, “We also  achieved “10 Gbps from single server” design goal. We are now working on the next milestones.”

Whatever comes next, this is an extremely interesting project and it shows that when companies work together and open source the components, it can generate some great results. In this case, it’s a situation where everyone wins from the ISPs, who have low-maintenance servers that take pressure from Netflix off their systems to Netflix, which delivers an opn solution that benefits the community and its bottom line to NGINX, which increases its marketshare and raises its profile.

And let’s not foget users who get fewer delays when streaming Netflix content.

Sounds like a good deal for everyone

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