Netflix establishes its own content delivery network

5 Jun 2012

Web-streaming service Netflix has decided to cut out the middle man and create its own content delivery network (CDN), following YouTube’s example.

People are streaming nearly 1bn hours of movies and TV shows per month from Netflix and, up until now, the service largely depended on commercial CDNs to deliver this content to ISPs.

Yesterday, Netflix established its own content delivery network, Open Connect, and ISPs can now obtain Netflix video data from this single-purpose Netflix CDN.

“Given our size and growth, it now makes economic sense for Netflix to have (its own CDN), as well,” wrote Ken Florance, vice-president of content delivery at Netflix, in a post on the Netflix UK & Ireland blog. “We’ll continue to work with our commercial CDN partners for the next few years, but eventually most of our data will be served by Open Connect.”

Openly connecting with ISPs

YouTube has long had its own CDN so it was perhaps only a matter of time before the popular streaming service followed suit. About 5pc of Netflix data is already being served by Open Connect and ISPs interested in joining the network should check out the Open Connect FAQ.

There are two ways ISPs can connect with Open Connect – either by installing Open Connect devices in their data centres or by peering with the network at common internet exchanges – and each of these will be provided by Netflix free of charge.

“As part of Open Connect, we are also sharing our hardware design and the open source software components of the server,” wrote Florance. “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.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.