Netflix announced this month that it had 74 million subscribers. We asked ourselves how exactly Netflix can gather and transport all of the HD goodness to our screens, tablets, and televisions every day as the video distribution site expands with no signs of slowing down?
Where is everything stored? Current figures have shown that a third of all user internet traffic in North America is accounted for by Netflix at peak hours, but how is all that magnificent HD content accumulated and transmitted? We needed to know, so we’ve been looking into it….
Netflix used to host third-party services for their content, but they started creating their content distribution network a few years ago (CDN). Now, all the binge-viewing you do is stored and distributed via the Netflix-created personalized network. It is then possible to stream the cache to almost everywhere in the world. The global server network helps the media stream to be sourced close by, minimizing latency and increasing speed. This is the future technology.
- The race against time, making Netflix work
- What do the storage servers that hold Netflix content and stream it look like?
- But where does the material I’m watching come from?
- Where, though, do they run all these microservices?
- In a nutshell…
The race against time, making Netflix work
Let’s remember precisely what happens on your computer when you press the play button. Sizable, cinema-quality files are the source material of the movies or shows we watch. To be available for viewing on a range of devices: from 44′ 4K Smart TV to 6-inch handset displays, they need to be encoded and compressed into different formats and qualities. It is then possible to store these compressed files on a single data center hosting site. However, for example, if the audience is in India and wishes to see the new season of Stranger Things held on a server in Canada, you would generally expect a lot of latency and buffering to occur. The Content Delivery Network (CDN) can come into play to combat this. Many versions of the compressed encoded file are copied worldwide to hundreds of servers, forming a larger CDN for Netflix-like people around the world.
What do the storage servers that hold Netflix content and stream it look like?
A mixture of hard drives packed together in a computer is made up of them. They use 36 drives that can carry approximately 100 TB of details. These servers are capable of continuously storing and uploading between 10,000 and 20,000 movies. Over a thousand of these are spread across the world by Netflix. Each one extracts material to be distributed to separate devices afterward.
It is essential to sift through and organize the petabyte value of content that Netflix has, like a library. Netflix would then prepopulate the servers with the most expected shows and movies during the off hours, reducing bandwidth during peak hours. When called by a customer, the content is retrieved over time and then streamed. This is a future technology.
However, the media also has to get to the customer from the content distribution network, so internet service providers link to the network through the world’s massive data centers to keep it connected. Providers may also opt to have a CDN built on-site by Netflix, eliminating bandwidth costs.
But where does the material I’m watching come from?
The program for Netflix is also capable of reasoning. Netflix then determines which place the particular movie can be streamed from when you log into your account and pick a movie to watch. It quickly determines the material has migrated from the source, across the data centers, through the network, and into your home within a moment. To meet the customer, the movies are collected and then shipped thousands of miles per moment. When 74 million consumers binge streaming the new episodes of Jessica Jones or Daredevil or winning their honorary law degrees for Having a Killer, it does this millions and millions of times a day.
It seems like Netflix is not going anywhere anytime soon, with acquisitions in original programming, partnerships with Marvel and Disney, and a business model that has been running for over a decade. And we are thankful to those of us who are hooked to viewing episode after episode without commercial interruptions.
Where, though, do they run all these microservices?
It would be best if you had a vast network of database servers to manage all of this, which Netflix originally owned on their own. Still, they found that the breakneck speed they developed and wanted to continue to do so was impossible if they spent their time creating computer networks that could support their applications and keep repairing and changing them to meet their needs. They took a bold decision to get rid of running their servers and move all their stuff to the cloud, i.e., run it all on someone else’s servers that dealt with maintaining the hardware. At the same time, Netflix programmers wrote hundreds of programs and quickly installed them on the servers. Amazon Web Services is the other person they chose for their cloud-based technology (AWS).
In a nutshell…
When you press the Play button, here is what happens:
To make one big Netflix operation, hundreds of microservices, or tiny individual systems, operate together.
Legally obtained or approved content is translated and secured from replicated into a size that suits your computer.
Servers make a copy of it around the world and archive it so that it is distributed at optimum capacity and speed by the nearest one to you.
Your Netflix app cherry picks which of these servers will load the video from when you choose a clip.
Now you’re seized by the chilling tactics of Frank Underwood, offered the depression of the rollercoaster life of BoJack Horseman, tickled by Dev in Master of None, and turned phobic by the stories in Black Mirror to the future of technology. And as your binge-watching transforms you into a couch potato, your lifetime declines.