Note: The cloud has several benefits over traditional hosting. See what Cloud Virtual Hosting can do for you.

Netflix plans to shut down in-house servers and finish their migration to the cloud.

Media delivery service Netflix is moving their corporate operations to the cloud, according to Computerworld. While the TV and movie subscription empire already hosts all of their video streaming service with Amazon Web Services, they are now looking to move all of their in-house IT services to Amazon as well.

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Currently, the company’s corporate data center is located in Los Gatos, California, and supports approximately 2,500 virtual servers. This move could potentially eliminate most, if not all, of their on-site server requirements. Mike Kail, Netflix’s VP of IT operations, estimates that, at worst, they may retain two server racks running 50 virtual servers. But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what they’ve been using. He hopes to complete the move to a cloud-based infrastructure over the next 18 months.

There are many reasons to make such a move into a cloud-based system. First of all, packing up and migrating all of the data and applications affords a unique opportunity to restructure and reevaluate what’s important. It’s similar to moving from one home to another; having to box and relocate everything makes it quickly apparent what is essential and what is disposable. It is also cost-effective in the long run, since it eliminates the maintenance and personnel that a large data center demands. Cloud environments are also ideal for scaling architectures. As they’ve seen with their video streaming service, they won’t have to guess months ahead of time what their storage, hardware, or networking needs will be, since the cloud can compensate for those needs in real-time. And finally more business moving to cloud hosting services will foster more competition and innovation, which rewards providers, consumers, and the market as a whole.

Cloud hosting is not without its flaws and failures, however. You may remember that in June of this year, there was a severe storm on the east coast of the US that left 1.3 million people in the Washington D.C. area without power. This outage affected Amazon Web Services (AWS) and several of the businesses that they support. Among those affect were Instagram, Pinterest, and even Netflix. These services and sites were unavailable for hours on that Friday evening. An important point to note here is that the data was never lost; everything was fully recovered and back in place when all was said and done. However, the amount of time it took to recover is the bigger issue at hand. As long as these sites are hosted on Amazon, their business depends on how reliable Amazon can be. And if the ship goes down, everyone goes down with it.

Note: Disaster can strike at any moment. Do everything you can to prepare!

One important tool for fault protection in such cases is cloud failover. Essentially, a backup database, server, or network will temporarily take the place of the failed system until it can be repaired and put back into use. For some AWS customers, they run their virtual cloud environments in four separate replicated Amazon locations so, should one fail, the others have all the data available immediately. When a failover works properly, end users can never tell when a failure has occurred, because the changeover is seamless. Now some hosting providers have begun offering failover protection as a part of or in addition to their current cloud hosting services. This way, customers don’t have to pay for two separate services and manage them both themselves.

In the end, cloud hosting and services continue to gain ground in the online world. And seeing so many businesses invest in it promises that the cloud will keep on growing. And so long as users make the right preparations and take the right precautions, the entire internet will benefit from it.