Just in time for the global release of Season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil to 190 countries simultaneously, Netflix has announced that all streaming is now carried on its in-house content delivery network.
Netflix Open Connect was originally developed in 2011 (and announced in 2012) as a response to the ever-increasing scale of Netflix streaming. Since the launch of the streaming video on demand service in 2007, Netflix had proved to be a significant and increasingly large share of internet traffic in every market in which it operated.
Now, it delivers 100% of its video traffic, which totals 125 million hours of viewing per day. This amounts to tens of terabits per second of simultaneous peak traffic, making Netflix Open Connect one of the highest-volume networks in the world.
Globally, close to 90% of Netflix traffic is delivered via direct connections between Open Connect and the residential ISPs its members use to access the internet, the company said. Most of these connections are localised to the regional point of interconnection that’s geographically closest to the member who’s watching. Connections to the Netflix Open Connect network are free to the ISP, though some, like Verizon, have paid peering relationships with the company.
Enhancing the CDN proposition, Netflix recently announced that it had completed its migration to the cloud, using Amazon Web Services as its provider for hosted services.
Most of the company's systems, and all of its customer-facing platforms, have been on the cloud since last year. The company has since implemented a cloud path for its billing infrastructure as well as customer and employee data management. Essentially everything before a user hits ‘play’ happens in Amazon Web Services (AWS), including all of the logic of the application interface, the content discovery and selection experience, recommendation algorithms, transcoding, etc.
Beyond the basic concept of caching content closer to the end user, Netflix has deployed what it calls Open Connect Appliances (OCAs). These are deployed in close to 1,000 separate locations around the world. It has streamlined its hardware and software for the OCAs over time.
“We also give qualifying ISPs the same OCAs that we use in our internet interconnection locations,” explained Ken Florance, VP of content delivery at the streaming behemoth.
“After these appliances are installed in an ISP’s datacentre, almost all Netflix content is served from the local OCAs rather than 'upstream' from the internet. Many ISPs take advantage of this option, in addition to local network interconnection, because it reduces the amount of capacity they need to build to the rest of the internet since Netflix is no longer a significant factor in that capacity.”
This has the dual benefit of reducing the ISP’s cost of operation and ensuring the best possible Netflix experience for their subscribers.
“In big cities like New York, Paris, London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, as well as more remote locations — as far north as Greenland and Tromsø, Norway and as far south as Puerto Montt, Chile, and Hobart, Tasmania,” Florance said, “ISPs have even placed OCAs in Macapá and Manaus in the Amazon rainforest — on every continent, except Antarctica, and on many islands such as Jamaica, Malta, Guam and Okinawa.
"This means that most of our members are getting their Netflix audio and video bits from a server that’s either inside, or directly connected to, their ISP’s network within their local region. This specialisation and focus on optimisation has allowed us to improve OCA efficiency by an order of magnitude since the start of the programme. We went from delivering 8Gbps of throughput from a single server in 2012 to over 90Gbps from a single server in 2016.”
As the service continues to grow in global locations, so will the Netflix Open Connect footprint. Florance said that places like India, the Middle East, Africa and Asia will continue to see improvements.