Netflix launches US$100,000 developer competition to improve cloud computing

15 Mar 2013

Netflix has launched the Netflix Cloud Prize competition in Github, which has US$100,000 available in prize money to challenge developers around the world to improve the features, usability, quality, reliability and security of cloud computing.

“Cloud computing has become a hot topic recently, but the technology is still just emerging,” said Neil Hunt, chief product officer at Netflix. “No doubt many of the key ideas that will take it to the next level have yet to be conceived, explored and developed.

“The Netflix Cloud Prize is designed to attract and focus the attention of the most innovative minds to create the advances that will take cloud to the next level,” Hunt said.

Pioneering the cloud

Cloud pioneer Netflix has more than 33m customers who use Netflix cloud technology. Every piece of the Netflix experience that members see when browsing TV programmes and films to stream on any device is delivered from the cloud.

The cloud also enables features such as advanced personalisation, mobile capabilities, social features and bookmarks that remember where members are in a film or programme.

Netflix runs on a general purpose cloud platform, making it easy to provide a reliable service for a rapidly growing global membership. As Netflix migrated to the cloud, the company’s engineers created state-of-the-art technologies that have since been shared freely with the general public as open source software.

“We’re laying railway lines for cloud adoption and usage,” said Hunt. “The Netflix Cloud Prize is designed to improve understanding of what it takes to build native applications for the cloud that take full advantage of the opportunities for scalable computing.”

The Netflix Cloud Prize is divided into 10 categories that offer a US$10,000 prize each, judged by a panel of independent, renowned technology pioneers, including CTO Werner Vogels; Thoughtworks chief scientist Martin Fowler; strategist Simon Wardley; Telx senior vice-president and author of Cloudonomics Joe Weinman; University of Aarhus developer training expert Aino Corry; and Netflix Cloud vice-president Yury Izrailevsky.

The entry period runs from 13 March 2013 to 15 September 2013. Winners will be announced in October, with prizes presented at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Re:Invent conference in November. All winners will be invited to attend the conference in Las Vegas as guests of Netflix.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years