Netflix guts data center in shift to cloud

The idea that public cloud-based services will radically transform in-house IT operations is ever more
evident at Netflix.

Netflix no longer wants to run a data center in support of its in-house corporate IT services. It is shifting
internal applications to Amazon’s cloud, as well as using software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers for
business services.

Mike Kail, vice president of IT operations at Netflix, said he wants to move as much as 95% of Netflix’s
corporate IT services, now run in an in-house data center, to the cloud, but the goal is 100%, he said.

The intent is to focus IT operations on providing services to the business, and not managing hardware,
said Kail. “Part of my charter is to reduce my data center footprint as much as possible,” he said.

If Kail doesn’t eliminate the need for a data center all together, at worst he estimates that he may be left
with two racks running about 50 virtual servers — something small enough to fit in a closet, and not the
corporate IT data center he now runs with about 2,500 virtual servers.

Kail says this decision to migrate services to the cloud is about concentrating on what’s important to
the business, and by using public cloud services and SaaS providers he will no longer have to worry
about hardware refreshes, operating system patches and paying for power and space. “[These are] time
consuming tasks that don’t really add value,” he said.

“I worry about processing and analyzing the data and providing great services versus all the other extra-
curricular activities,” said Kail, referring to hardware and data center maintenance matters.

Cloud-based infrastructure services such as Amazon’s have given a lift to a variety of start-ups. Sumo
Logic, which has 60 employees and is based in Mountain View, Calif., launched its services early this
year, and says it benefits from Amazon’s ability to rapidly scale up with demand.

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