Netflix Releases Spinnaker, Goes Multi-Cloud With Google, Microsoft

Updated 9am 18 Nov 2015, UTC+10. See below.

[entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”true” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity], the streaming video company, has released a tool called Spinnaker that it says “is an open source multi-cloud Continuous Delivery platform for releasing software changes with high velocity and confidence.”

[entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] partnered with Google, [entity display=”Microsoft” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”true” key=”microsoft” ticker=”MSFT” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/2854″]Microsoft[/entity], and [entity display=”EMC's” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”true” key=”emc” ticker=”EMC” exchange=”NYSE” natural_id=”fred/company/1441″]EMC’s[/entity] Pivotal to build Spinnaker over the past year or so, and have released the platform code on GitHub.

Spinnaker supports deployment to AWS, [entity display=”Google” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”true” key=”google” ticker=”GOOGL” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/1821″]Google[/entity] Cloud Platform, and Pivotal Cloud Foundry today, with support for [entity display=”Microsoft” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”microsoft” ticker=”MSFT” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/2854″]Microsoft[/entity] Azure “actively underway”. There are also plans to add support for containers “in coming months”.

This is an interesting announcement for several reasons.

[entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] is a poster-child for AWS, often trotted out whenever someone needs an example of a well known brand that runs in the cloud. They are famous for eschewing their own data-centres in favour of using AWS. [entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] is also mentioned when AWS has an outage, because they’re highly visible when affected.

But if [entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] puts all of their eggs in the AWS basket, they are creating risk for themselves. Single-sourcing important parts of your supply chain places your revenue at risk, which can sometimes be worth it. Some companies mitigate this risk by forming close partnerships with their key suppliers, almost becoming vertically integrated, so that they can better influence those suppliers’ risk management. Others prefer a portfolio approach, where risk is reduced through multi-sourcing. If one suppliers has issues, you have others to choose from.

That appears to be what [entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] are up to here. AWS is a large company that doesn’t depend on [entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] for its business–unlike the relationship between, say, Toyota and its key suppliers. The power dynamic means that [entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] needs AWS more than AWS needs [entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity].

[entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] can improve the resilience of its services by multi-sourcing, and hopefully minimise the impact of an AWS outage. The really interesting thing is that [entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] can now source its vital parts from multiple parties. This places competitive pressure on AWS, because if [entity display=”Netflix” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”netflix” ticker=”NFLX” exchange=”NASDAQ” natural_id=”fred/company/6132″]Netflix[/entity] can now treat its cloud services more like a commodity, then they can simply move their workloads to someone else. This is quite a challenge in the cloud world today, hence the oft-used “Hotel California” analogy.

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