Netflix, You Flatter Us

Netflix Open Connect

Inspired by the Backblaze Storage Pod, Netflix builds their own Flixapod. Okay, it’s not really called that. It’s called the “Open Connect Appliance Hardware.”

Netflix designed a 36-hard drive custom chassis filled with the most popular movies and deployed at every data center near their customers. Not only will this this reduce the load on internet infrastructure and lower the cost for ISPs to provide the service, but it will also increase the speed and improve the user experience for end users. It’s a step that shows why Netflix is a leader in online video: it’s due not only to content, but also to continuous innovation.

When we open sourced our Storage Pod design in 2009, one of the most common reactions was, “Are you crazy?! Why would you give that away?” We are incredibly excited to see companies that need inexpensive storage not only building their own, but customizing it for their specific needs, and contributing their designs and learnings back to the community.

Derrick Harris penned a great analysis at GigaOm today, “Why Netflix’s CDN should scare the storage industry.” He’s right, of course. The open source software movement started from a desperate need by developers to have access to base components upon which they could build and innovate. That demand created a treasure trove of invaluable applications.

Open source hardware comes from the same goals and is starting to have the same results. Companies operating at “cloud scale” have a critical need for physical systems that can support the needs at efficient costs. With the Backblaze Storage Pods, Facebook Open Compute, and Netflix Open Connect, we may have reached a tipping point.

I love how Netflix puts their goal on their site:

We welcome commentary and improvements, which will be shared with the community with the goal of a faster, less expensive Internet for all.

Next time you stream some Top Gear on Netflix, it could be from one of these Flixapods.


About Gleb Budman

Gleb Budman is a co-founder and has served as our chief executive officer since 2007, guiding the business from its inception in a Palo Alto apartment to a company serving customers in more than 175 countries with over an exabyte of data under management. Gleb has served as a member of our board of directors since 2009 and as chairperson since January 2021. Prior to Backblaze, Gleb was the senior director of product management at SonicWall and the vice president of products at MailFrontier, which was acquired by SonicWall. Before that, he served in a senior position at Kendara, which was acquired by Excite@Home, and previously founded and successfully exited two other startup companies.