Netflix now runs everything in the cloud, should you be doing this?

Netflix now runs everything in the cloud, should you be doing this?
Image Credit: Televisione Streaming

The Netflix announcement back in August of 2015 wasn’t a very big deal. In fact it probably went unnoticed by most people. However, from the point of view of those of us with the CIO job, it was sorta like a bomb had gone off. The company sent an email out that announced that in a month they planned on shutting down their very last operational data center. What this means is that they are now running their company entirely in “the cloud”. Should you be doing this?

How Netflix Moved To The Cloud

As important as this move into the cloud is, what we CIOs need to keep in mind is that Netflix understands the importance of information technology and has always had a strong commitment to using the cloud. If you think about their business for just a moment, it’s almost a poster child for a cloud-based firm. Every month Netflix attempts to both sign up additional customers for their DVD delivery and, more recently, their video streaming service. At the same time they try to retain the customers that they already have. The end result of all of this is that their IT needs are growing by leaps and bounds.

In their press release, Netflix was careful to point out that for their video streaming service, they have been 100% cloud based for their customer facing systems for quite some time. Netflix’s decision to move all of its operations into the cloud was not a decision that they reached overnight. Instead, this has been a 7 year project that is only now coming to a close.

Netflix made the decision to move all of their IT operations into the cloud after the company experienced a major hardware failure back in 2008. The next year was when they first got serious about moving their company’s applications into the cloud. The first of these applications to make the transition was the company’s jobs page on its website. After this they moved their video player, their iPhone related technology, discovery / search functionality, and their accounts pages. They moved their Big Data platform into the cloud back in 2013 and their billing and payments processing made the trip in 2014.

What It Means To Be Entirely In The Cloud

Netflix’s plan to shut down their last data center makes them unique. They are going to be one of the first big companies to completely move their IT operations into the cloud. According to a recent survey, about 12% of companies currently run all of their IT operations in the cloud. What’s interesting about this statistic is that most of these companies are small or medium sized businesses – nowhere near the size of Netflix. This is changing. The experts predict that by 2022 they believe that 20% of large enterprise companies will be operating entirely in the cloud.

Moving entirely to the cloud is not something that most big companies can do easily. The reason for this is because of the sensitive business software that many larger companies run either in their own data centers or on dedicated cloud resources provided by another company. Any person in the CIO position knows that it’s the legacy applications that we all have that will always prove to be the hardest to migrate into the cloud.

If you want to move all of your IT operations into the cloud, you are going to have to pick the right cloud partner to team with. In the case of Netflix they have selected Amazon and their Amazon Web Services offering to host all of the Netflix applications. Netflix is willing to admit that they are now “… fully reliant on Amazon Web Services…” The advantage of switching to this architecture is that Netflix no longer has to estimate months in advance how many servers they are going to need in order to serve their growing base of subscribers. When they need additional servers, they can just call Amazon and the servers will be turned up that same day.

What All Of This Means For You

Netflix issued a press release that contained some startling information. They are in the process of closing down their last data center and moving the company’s entire IT operations into the cloud. For a company of the size of Netflix, this is almost unheard of. How did they do it?

What we need to realize is that they have been a big user of cloud services for quite some time. Almost all of their customer facing IT operations have been cloud based for a while. Because of their partnership with Amazon, they have been able to standardize the cloud that they are using. This has allowed them to move more and more of their company IT operations into the cloud over the past 7 years. What other CIOs need to understand is that Netflix has found a way to solve the challenge of either swapping out or moving their legacy applications into the cloud.

It’s pretty clear for the rest of us CIOs: we are all going to be moving all of our IT operations into the cloud over time. No, it might not happen this year or even next year, but it will eventually happen. Netflix is showing us the way. If they can solve all of the same problems that we are facing, then we should be able to eventually make the switch. Looks like it’s time to start thinking about an all cloud based future!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What do you think the very last application that your company would ever move to the cloud would be?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m pretty sure that you would agree with me if I told you that your enterprise network will just be getting bigger and bigger over time. As the person with the CIO job, it’s going to be your job to find ways for the company to keep building out its network without going broke. Got any ideas on how to go about doing this?

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Developing mobile apps is a lot different from creating a desktop application

Developing mobile apps is a lot different from creating a desktop application
Image Credit: Mystery People

CIOs are in charge of the IT department and this means that we’re in charge of all of the software that our firm develops. In the past, a great deal of the software that we created was designed to be used throughout the company on desktops. The arrival of the mobile age has changed all of this. Now many of the applications that the IT department is being called on to create are mobile applications. Is your IT department ready?

What’s So Hard About Creating Mobile Apps?

When an IT department decides that it’s time to create a mobile application, they need to be careful. Everyone understands the importance of information technology. There is still a great deal of excitement about mobile apps and this can sometimes cloud everyone’s judgment when they start to plan the application development process.

Often times what will happen when it comes time to create a mobile application is that the development team will decide that they want to surprise or impress the eventual end customers for the application. What this means all too often is that they are not going to take the time to meet with their customers. Instead, they are going to guess at what they are going to need from the mobile application.

What happens more often than not is that the enthusiasm of the development team can get the better of them. The development team then tries to think through the requirements without the help of the end users. Unfortunately, the end result of all of this that the initial adoption rate of the mobile application that has been produced is low. Although the new mobile application may look “sexy”, there’s a good chance that it’s not meeting the customer’s needs especially when they find themselves out in the field.

What’s The Right Way To Create A Mobile App?

So if we now understand that having the IT team hole up and not communicate with the end users is not the right way to go about developing mobile apps, what is the correct way? The first thing that any IT department’s development team needs to realize is that they have to keep the golden rule of software development in mind at all times: you always have to work closely with the application end users.

As the person in the CIO position, it’s important that you realize that developing mobile applications is very different from developing desktop applications. Mobile applications almost always involve both new technologies and new programming languages. This can quickly make a project become very complicated.

One temptation that a lot of people with the CIO job are faced with when it comes to creating a mobile application is to outsource it. This many initially seem like a good idea, but in the long term you are going to want to bring this expertise back in house. To make this development process work out, as CIO you are going to have to make sure that all of your IT departments have tight relationships with each of the business units. This includes the marketing department where many of your product requirements will end up coming from

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs are in charge of all of the software development that happens within their IT shops. In the past we’ve all created a great deal of desktop software. With the arrival of tablets and mobile phones, this is all changing. Our end users, especially the ones in the field, are now demanding that we create mobile applications to support them.

Creating a mobile application is not like creating a desktop application. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating a mobile application and forget the golden rule of checking with the end users to determine what they both need and want. When we create mobile applications, we use new technologies and programming languages. We need to take the time to work closely with our end users and make sure that all of our departments are working together.

The good news is that any IT department can create high-quality mobile applications. You need to take the time to think the software development process through the entire way just to make sure that what you end up producing is what your customers really want.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Should you target just a few mobile devices or should your mobile apps run on everything right off the bat?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The Netflix announcement back in August of 2015 wasn’t a very big deal. In fact it probably went unnoticed by most people. However, from the point of view of those of us with the CIO job, it was sorta like a bomb had gone off. The company sent an email out that announced that in a month they planned on shutting down their very last operational data center. What this means is that they are now running their company entirely in “the cloud”. Should you be doing this?

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