Netflix wants open-source developers, cloud alternatives

Written on:January 14, 2013
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Netflix has made a name for itself open-sourcing tools it built to fill gaps in Amazon Web Services’ cloud and make deployment easier to manage.  Now it wants to show off other goodies it has in the pipeline and recruit open-source development whizzes in the process. Toward that end 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; following it up 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 clean up of unused cloud resources.  In all, Netflix has put source code for 16 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 via phone.

Netflix will also give attendees a glimpse of what other tools it has on tap. “We have a whole lot more Simian Monkeys we use internally — 5 or 10 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 … Google and Facebook  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 that it would want to encourage the construction of alternative, scalable clouds.


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