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3/8/2011
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Cloud Connect: Netflix Finds Home In Amazon EC2

The video delivery company couldn't build data centers fast enough to keep pace with growing demand, so it moved operations to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud.

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Netflix is showing that you can replace your data center with the cloud. Last year, the video delivery company moved most of its production systems, except the initial capture of customer credit card data, into Amazon's EC2.

"We are just about 100% in the cloud," Adrian Cockcroft, cloud architect at Netflix, said Monday during a workshop session on managing application performance in the cloud at the opening of Cloud Connect 2011, a UBM Techweb event.

Netflix decided to move into the Amazon Web Services EC2 cloud because it saw its growth accelerating so rapidly that it faced a staggering task in building data centers to keep up. Cockcroft flashed a scene from an unidentified movie showing two men fleeing a building that was exploding.

"That's what was about to happen to our data center if we continued managing it ourselves," he said to laughs from a crowd that filled a ballroom at the Santa Clara, Calif., Convention Center.

The company has seen an explosive growth in Web site traffic and new customers, thanks to a free iPhone Netflix app that launched in 2010 and the firm's ability to download movies and TV shows to popular game console machines like the Wii, the Xbox 360, and the PS3 media server, added last year.

In the last quarter, Netflix's business has grown by 37% -- or over 5 million customers, Cockcroft said. "We've stopped building our own data centers. We couldn't predict where we were going to be" by the time it got a new generation of data centers built.

"We want to use clouds. We don't have time to build them," he said.

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