Why Netflix Chose NGINX as the Heart of Its CDN - NGINX

Original: https://www.nginx.com/blog/why-netflix-chose-nginx-as-the-heart-of-its-cdn/

In the few years since its introduction, Netflix’s online video streaming service has grown to serve over 50 million subscribers in 40 countries. We’ve already shared some of the best practices that Netflix’s software development engineers adopted as they transitioned from a traditional monolithic development process to continuous delivery and microservices, in Adopting Microservices at Netflix: Lessons for Architectural Design and Adopting Microservices at Netflix: Lessons for Team and Process Design.

NGINX developer Gleb Smirnoff at nginx.conf2014

In this post, we’ll discuss another core contributor to Netflix’s success: its content delivery network (CDN), Open Connect. We’re proud that NGINX runs on every Open Connect delivery appliance, playing a key role in Netflix’s ability to keep pace with the explosive growth of the video service. NGINX’s Gleb Smirnoff has worked alongside the Open Connect team for over two years, and last October at our user conference, nginx.conf2014, he explained why Netflix chose NGINX (along with FreeBSD) to power this crucial part of its business.

Why Netflix Built Its Own CDN

Netflix initially outsourced streaming video delivery to three large CDN vendors (Akamai, Level3, and LimeLight). As the service became more popular, Netflix decided that building and managing its own CDN made sense, for several reasons:

Most importantly, Netflix built its own CDN in order to have greater control over application delivery and the user experience. To provide optimal streaming media delivery to customers, Netflix needed to maximize its control over the three basic components in the delivery chain:

Netflix was able to optimize Open Connect for video streaming in a way that’s not possible with a generic CDN provided by a vendor. Open Connect enables Netflix to offer a superior user experience at a lower cost, and with greater visibility into the performance of the application around the world.

Why Netflix Chose NGINX and FreeBSD

From the start, Netflix’s goal was, as Gleb puts it, to “get more and more gigabits per second from a single box.” Specifically, Netflix needed to maximize the number of subscribers each appliance could serve concurrently. The Open Connect engineers anticipated needing to fine-tune the software to achieve this goal, so they decided to go with open source software for its unlimited extensibility.

As mentioned previously, Netflix places its video-streaming appliances in the data centers of its customers’ ISPs when possible. Because the software running on the appliances would be in the hands of third parties, Netflix chose projects that use a BSD-style license rather than the GNU Public License (GPL).

The specific open source projects Netflix chose were:

Combining FreeBSD and NGINX yields further benefits:

NGINX Plus and NGINX Can Optimize Your Application Delivery, Too

From its inception, NGINX was designed to be adaptable and support every aspect of application delivery. To make applications similar to Netflix easier for our commercial customers to deploy, NGINX Plus combines web serving, load balancing, content caching, and media streaming in one easy to use package. Check out how our case studies to learn how other leading companies use NGINX Plus to deliver their applications with performance, security, and scale.

We enjoy working closely with customers, providing guidance on how to get the most out of NGINX Plus in their specific application delivery architectures. Our Support and Professional Services teams can help you with architectural guidance, installation, configuration, updates, and more. Contact us to learn more.

Video Recording

Retrieved by Nick Shadrin from nginx.com website.