Two years ago, Netflix launched NetFX, its premiere desktop-as-service (DaaS) offering. Netflix describes NetFX as “a cloud-based platform that will make it easier for vendors, artists and creators to connect and collaborate on visual effects (VFX) for our titles.” The platform provides virtual workstations, integrated storage, and full access to secure rendering in a connected environment, which Netflix hopes will help it become a leading producer of visual effects (VFX) and original animated content.
To create stunning animation, Netflix artists need access to specialized applications, petabytes of images and raw video files, and enough computing power to render completed files. Multiple artists work in teams, and each VFX frame can take up to 30 hours to produce. With more and more of these artists working remotely, Netflix needed to look for a solution that could deliver similar security, performance, and functional characteristics to the workstations available in its studio headquarters. To do so, the company turned to DaaS.
What is DaaS?
Desktop-as-service (DaaS) delivers a unified, centrally managed computing experience to users on almost any internet-connected device. DaaS doesn’t require buying any hardware and poses no worries about storage security or maintenance. DaaS also eliminates much of the expense usually associated with managing and maintaining mobile computer users. Users can run hard-powered applications, including video and graphic applications, on a relatively low-powered portable device with no freezing or buffering, allowing for secure encrypted access to apps and desktops from anywhere on any device. With DaaS, Netflix can deploy apps on virtual desktops to hundreds of artists around the world in minutes.
Benefits of DaaS
Netflix profits from DaaS in the following ways.
Upfront investment: Managers shift from major long-term capital expenses (CAPEX) to daily operating expenses (OPEX) as they adopt the pay-as-you-go model, which cuts office expenses like electricity, cabling and maintenance. The virtual desktop also helps Netflix minimize the costs of office infrastructure, along with cabling and desktop maintenance on their premises.
Physical and digital security: DaaS providers store data in high-security data centers that are under continuous surveillance. All information is stored under multiple safeguards like firewalls, multi-factor authentication, intrusion detection and prevention, and 256-bit data encryption. Updating patches are simplified and unified. No data is stored on the mobile devices. If a device is lost or stolen, data access can be revoked immediately.
Business continuity: DaaS providers offer DRaaS service, whereby providers replicate the company’s data and apps in multiple data centers at different locations, to safeguard against natural disasters.
NetFX and Google Cloud DRaaS
Netflix piloted a beta version of its NetFX platform in Canada, and recently unveiled a working template of NetFX in Mumbai. The company said it plans to make the platform available in more countries “where infrastructure can be deployed.”
Whether due to extreme weather or to cutting a critical cable, Netflix must be prepared for anything that disrupts operations. It will want to recover as much data as possible in the shortest time possible, without impacting operations. For that, Netflix regards the Google Cloud Platform as the best environment, because it offers time-tested disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). Netflix uses Google Cloud VPN as conduit for connecting NetFX to Google Cloud, where data can be copied to Cloud Storage for rapid and cost-effective data recovery. This helps Netflix return to full operations rapidly following disasters, avoid regulatory risks, avoid data losses, keep customers happy, and maintain its reputation.
About its DaaS solution, Netflix says: ”NetFX is a cutting-edge platform which will provide collaborators frictionless access to infrastructure to meet Netflix’s demand for VFX services around the world as our library of original content continues to grow.”