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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.” Extra Credit:
On Jan. 13, 2022, The C2C Connect: DACH group invited Michel Lovis of TX Group to their community gathering to give a presentation about TX Group’s migration from Microsoft Suite to Google Workspace. After an introduction from co-host and DACH team lead Chanel Greco (@chanelgreco), Michel analyzed the digitization process, the challenges TX Group faced, and the measures they took to ensure that the effort would succeed. Below are summaries of some of the key points covered during the session: 1. TX group has evolved from being a newspaper-only company in 1893 to becoming an internationally recognized network of media and platforms. 2. TX Group has become the largest private digital network platform in Switzerland, reaching over 80% of the population, with 3,700 employees, around 500 technology experts, and 800 journalists from over 50 nations, and their digital revenue share is 53%. 3. TX Group today consists of Tamedia (paid media), 20 Minuten (free media), Goldbach (advertising), and TX Markets AG (market places), all of which are using scalable technology architecture in a federated organizational setup (cloud first/only, with strong push for agility & speed). 4. In 2015, the company shifted workspace operations from Microsoft to Google. The goal of the project was to get all users to adopt most of the Google Workspace applications, including Sheets, Docs, Slides, and Meet, thus making a big change toward the digital environment they have today. 5. Vision vs. reality: close customer care is key! The challenge of migrations is that it takes time for people to lose their original workspace and get used to change. Today TX Group retains many Microsoft installations, and will retain them long-term in some areas, departments, and Teams. 6. TX Group introduced the following measures and resources after launching Workspace: An internal Google CC with Google Experts Business proximity concept implementation Welcome info for new employees Knowledge-sharing and other help offerings Roadshow coffees Inviting people to express questions via management care and a satisfaction survey Specific courses including transformation lab 7. The second bigger change was the implementation of Goldbach. The bigger challenges here included the employees integrating a new company, which required a complete change of their working environment. 8. TX Group identifies six main different measures that were taken in order to make the process easier. 9. At the end of the session, the guests shared the benefits from their Google journey and the areas that would need a closer look. 10. Key takeaways from the session included: act faster, become more open, try something new, and "Pull faster than your shadow IT". Watch a full recording of the event below:
“Cloud repatriation,” like “cloud migration” and “cloud native,” is a tech term borrowed from the language of social science: all of these terms describe a relationship to a place of origin. What each really describes, though, is where someone, or something, lives. In social science, that someone is a person, someone born a citizen of one country or returned there after displacement by conflict or other political circumstances. In tech, the something born in or returned to its place of origin is an asset or a resource an organization controls: it’s your organization’s data, its software, or whatever else you need to store to be able to run it.After years of cloud migration dominating the conversation about software and data hosting and storage, the term “cloud repatriation” is emerging as a new hypothetical for migrated and cloud native organizations. So many organizations are now hosted on the cloud that a greater number than ever have the option, feasible or not, to move off. Whether any cloud-native or recently migrated organization would actually want to move its resources back on-premises, to a data center, is another question. To discuss this question and its implications for the future of the cloud as a business solution, C2C recently convened a panel of representatives from three major cloud-hosted companies: Nick Tornow of Twitter, Keyur Govande of Etsy, and Rich Hoyer and Miles Ward of SADA. The conversation was charged from the beginning, and only grew more lively throughout. Sensing the energy around this issue, Ward, who hosted the event, started things off with some grounding exercises. First, he asked each host to define a relevant term. Tornow defined repatriation as “returning to your own data centers...or moving away from the public cloud more generally,” Govande defined TCO as “the purchase price of an asset and the cost of operating it,” and Hoyer defined OPEX and CAPEX as, respectively, real-time day-to-day expenses and up-front long-term expenses. Ward then stirred things up by asking the guests to pose some reasons why an organization might want to repatriate. After these level-setting exercises, the guests dove into the business implications of repatriation.The question of cost came up almost immediately, redirecting the discussion to the relationship between decisions around workloads and overall business goals: Govande’s comments about “problems that are critical to your business” particularly resonated with the others on the call. Govande briefly elaborated on these comments via email after the event. “In the context of repatriation, especially for a product company, it is very important to think through the ramifications of doing the heavy infrastructural lift yourself,” he said. “In my opinion, for most product companies, the answer would be to ‘keep moving up the stack,’ i.e. to be laser focused on your own customers' needs and demands, by leveraging the public cloud infrastructure.”These sentiments resurfaced later in the discussion, when the group took up the problem of weighing costs against potential opportunities for growth: The more the group explored these emerging themes of workload, cost, and scale, the more the guests offered insights based on their firsthand experiences as executives at major tech companies. Tornow used an anecdote about launching the game Farmville at Zynga to illustrate the unique challenges of launching products on the cloud: During the audience Q&A, a question about TCO analysis gave Hoyer the chance to go long on his relevant experiences at SADA: As soon as the conversation began to wind down, Ward put the guests on the spot again, to ask Tornow and Govande point-blank whether either of them would consider repatriation an option for their company that very day. Unsurprisingly, neither said they would: By the time Ward handed the microphone back to Dale Rossi of Google Cloud, who introduced and concluded the event, the conversation had lasted well over an hour, leaving very few angles on the subject of repatriation unexamined. Many hosts might have felt satisfied letting an event come to an end at this point, but not Ward. To leave the guests, and the audience, with a sense of urgency and resolve, he treated everyone on the call to a rendition of “Reveille,” the traditional military call to arms, arranged exclusively for this group for solo Tuba: Repatriation may not be a realistic option for many if not most businesses, but discussing the possibility hypothetically illuminates the considerations these same businesses will have to confront as they approach cloud strategy and workload balance. “Nobody on our panel had heard of anyone born in the cloud ever going ‘back’ to the data center,” Ward said in an email reflecting on the event. “Any infrastructure cost analysis is a ‘complex calculus,’ and there's no easy button.” For Ward, there is one way to make this complex calculus manageable: “To get maximum value from cloud, focus in on the differentiated managed services that allow you to refocus staff time on innovation.”When you hear the word “repatriation,” what comes to mind for you? What does it imply for your organization and the workloads your organization manages? Are there any relevant considerations you consider crucial that you want to talk through in more depth? Join the C2C Community and start the conversation! Extra Credit:
The full recording from this C2C Deep Dive includes panel discussion on:Defining terms for repatration, total cost of ownership (TCO), operational expenditures (OPEX), and capital expenditures (CAPEX) Understanding motivations, payoff, and pitfalls of repatriating workloads off of cloud Workload considerations from applied knowledge at Twitter and EtsyWho spoke at this event? Miles Ward CTO, SADA Rich Hoyer Director of Customer FinOps, SADA Keyur Govande VP Infrastructure and Chief Architect, Etsy Nick Tornow Platform Lead, Twitter
Netflix, the world's most popular movie streaming platform, deploys 100 pieces of code per day with only 70 engineers. So how do they do it? The DevOps lifecycle method that Netflix claims helps them squeeze “canaries into hours instead of days,” partly because it helps their engineers “quickly research issues and make changes rather than bouncing the responsibilities across teams.”Use DevOps principles with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to develop your applications and services. Software methodologies: Waterfall, Agile, and DevOps Certain companies use the Agile and Waterfall methodologies to deploy software. Each, in its way, produces faster and more disciplined project delivery than before. But Waterfall, with its siloed groups, usually creates months-long delays that sometimes kill projects, while the more efficient Agile is pocked by miscommunication.New kid on the block, DevOps, augments Agile by: Merging the development and operations teams. (Some companies also blend Development, Operations, and Security into DevSecOps) Automating each part of their DevOps lifecycle Practicing continuous improvement using feedback from the blended team DevOps through the Netflix lens By 2018, a frustrated Netflix had experimented with various software methodologies before it adopted the DevOps method of Belgian consultant Patrick DeBois, which gave shared ownership to developers and operators over the entire software lifecycle. Essentially, Netflix lets the developers test what they create while allowing the operators to fix what they operate. But, of course, DevOps engineers need to know the tools of both specialties. Here’s how the DevOps lifecycle works Netflix trots its DevOps software life cycle through seven phases. Each is called “continuous” because the team regurgitates each step before moving on to the next.1 - Continuous planning and developmentHere, continuous project planning and development or coding take place. But, first, the team sets out the idea and discusses which coding to use. 2 - Continuous code integration/ building The team builds the code for unit testing, integration testing, code review, and packaging. It also commits to evaluate this code once a week and to integrate revisions and add-ons as needed. Most DevOps teams use Jenkins to execute their code. 3 - Continuous testing DevOps engineers test their developments in artificial environments created through Docker containers. They use automated testing tools like TestNG, JUnit, and Selenium, to root out bugs and malware deficiencies. 4 - Continuous feedbackThe team assesses how the code “behaves” in its simulated environment, then they incorporate improvements as needed before repeating the piloted tests. 5 - Continuous deployment The final application code is uploaded and deployed on the various production servers through tools like Vagrant, Docker, Ansible, and Kubernetes. Other devices, notably Chef, Puppet, Ansible, and SaltStack, automate the code. 6 - Continuous monitoringDevOps engineers assess how the code runs, checking for security and functionality issues. As a result, engineers use Nagios as one of their favorite tools. 7 - Continuous operations This is the shortest, most thrilling stage of all. The DevOps team automates the product release and subsequent updates. What Netflix does for the DevOps life cycle to work Engineers on the DevOps team have to be uniquely motivated and well-rounded. Each needs to have the skills of their specialized skill-set and the skill-set of SWE, SDET, and SREs. With their focus on automation, questions that DevOps engineers need to ask include “how can I automate what is needed to operate this system?” Netflix augments its DevOps lifecycle by investing in high-quality personnel, tools, and training. Then, when a product or service fails, Netflix spins it through five whys iteratively, probing to uncover the “how” and “why” the issue occurred and how to improve before returning the code to the DevOps lifecycle and optimizing as needed. Bottom Line The DevOps lifecycle helps Netflix deliver regular deployments through its continuous improvement and automation practices and blending development with operations.Netflix admits that the trade-off means sacrificing specialization for generalization. Still, grouping different specialists in one team reduce silos, eliminates bottlenecks, improves product accuracy and speed, and drastically cuts production costs. In 2018, Netflix testified that DevOps helped them grow to 125M global members who enjoy 140M+ hours of viewing per day. Let’s Connect!Leah Zitter, Ph.D., has a Masters in Philosophy, Epistemology, and Logic and a Ph.D. in Research Psychology.
On March 11, C2C sponsored and co-hosted an event with Cloud Study Network and Serverless Toronto featuring this presentation by Kudzanai Murefu. Learn how the production-ready music streaming platform, Strma, that serves tens of thousands of users was launched. You’ll be taken through the architectural evolution and how the company grew from a small personal Firebase project into a real business using several other Google Cloud Serverless Services.Kudzanai Murefu—Founder, Strma MusicConnecting Africans to African media and information through innovative Software Applications.
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