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Understanding Microservices Architecture at Netflix

By Real PradJuly 5, 2021, 3:30 p.m. Application development company
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Understanding Microservices Architecture at Netflix

Netflix has grown at a very fast pace and has changed from using monolith to microservices architecture. This was due to the enormous traffic and the team also wanted to speed up organizational development. 

It is a fact that Netflix implemented the microservices architecture well before the term ‘microservices' was even launched. Netflix today has over 180 million subscribers spread across 200+ countries.

In monolith architecture, all the elements are stacked into a tight container and their services are dependent upon each other. Failure of one service caused an impact on the other service. For example, when a website has incurred a problem in its customer service module, then the team had to fix issues not only for this one but tackle other modules as well. 

There was a huge wastage of time and the failure of the web service to fix issues also resulted in the loss of money. The architecture was also not language neutral. Monolithic architecture cannot handle large traffic conditions and it is difficult to maintain complex websites. To update a single service, the whole application has to be updated and deployed.

Back in August 2008 when the Netflix system was based on monolithic architecture, it had a database failure. Their database was corrupted, and it took them about four days to sort this as their services were dependent upon one another. 

Even though Netflix had only database failure they had to fix all other services too. This was when they decided to switch to microservices from monolithic architecture. They started to shift to AWS cloud-based microservices architecture in 2009. It took them a couple of years to completely migrate to the cloud. Netflix now has over 1000 microservices with each service managing a separate part of the business. 

In addition to perfecting the use of microservices, Netflix also open-sourced several tools that they used to build the microservices. The Netflix Open Source Software Center (OSS), is now used by other companies to create their microservices systems. 

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Want to foray into microservices? Contact our expert developer team today!
 
Are you ready to travel down the microservices road?Download and read our book, Porting from Monoliths to Microservices – Is the shift worth it?

WHAT IS A MICROSERVICES ARCHITECTURE?

Microservice architecture is a self-contained process in which all the components and their associated components are put into different containers. These containers communicate with each other through interface APIs.

The services are small, independent, and loosely coupled. Microservices are independent of each other so that the failure and upgradation of one service will not cause an impact on the other. So the code was simpler.

Decoding the system architecture of Netflix

Netflix is an online streaming platform that allows users to watch movies and TV shows. 

The system architecture of Netflix includes: 

1. Front End: This includes the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) that consumers interact with. It also includes the web and mobile applications that are used to view content. 

2. Back End: This includes the servers, databases, and applications that power the streaming platform. It also includes the APIs that allow access to the content and the algorithms that recommend content to users.

3. Content Delivery Network (CDN): This is a network of servers that are used to deliver content to users. It helps to reduce latency and ensure that users can access content quickly and reliably. 

4. Encoding/Decoding Platform: This is a platform that is used to compress and decompress digital media. This is necessary to help reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent over the internet. 

5. Payment Processing System: This is a system that is used to process payments from users. It may include a payment gateway, a secure payment system, and other related services.

BEST PRACTICES FOR DESIGNING A MICROSERVICES ARCHITECTURE

The Netflix team established several best practices that would help in designing and implementing microservices architecture. Here are some points that you can keep in mind while designing a microservices architecture, as suggested by expert cloud architects at Netflix. 

Create a Separate Datastore For Each Microservice

Choosing the same database for microservices leads to them being dependent on each other and they will function very much like that of a monolith architecture. For example, when one team tries to update one service, the other service also has to be changed because they have the same database.

By choosing different database structures you can avoid unintentional coupling between services and also use the right data store for specific requirements of the different services.

Is your organization looking to migrate into microservices? Let’s get started!

Keep Code At a Similar Level Of Maturity

By keeping the code simpler and at a similar level, it would be easier for a team to rewrite or change the code of service which can be updated without rebuilding or deploying the entire application.

For example, one team can add a new microservice with updated code and can deploy and test it while its pre-existing microservice is working well on the other side. When the team feels that there is no issue with the upgraded service and it is efficient, they can then merge this one with pre-existing one, or else they can the pre-existing one with the new microservice.

Microservice is language-neutral so each microservice doesn’t need to understand the implementation of other microservices.

Do a Separate Build For Each Microservice

You can avoid unintentional coupling between services and also use the right data store for specific requirements by choosing a separate build. Having a separate build enables automation and also does not allow microservices to draw a similar set of files.

Deploy In Containers

Containers and microservices are like two faces of a coin. Microservices are easy to deploy when are containerized and can be managed independently without affecting other services. The containers also offer interoperability between the services.

Treat Servers as Stateless

If a server is stateless then it means that it doesn’t care about who and why the clients are accessing them. It doesn't keep a track of clients accessing them. This increases the reliability of the server.

With the server being stateless, Netflix was able to work in a very large-scale network with a huge number of clients. Dependencies on the clients may cause failures that would lead to unsteadiness in the server.

NETFLIX DELIVERY ARCHITECTURE IS BUILT ON NGINX

Content delivery executives at Netflix said that they chose NGINX because of its scalability and performance. Netflix incorporated with NGNIX Open source in 2011 to provide a better viewing experience to clients, reduce operation cost, and also get optimized streaming service.

Netflix architecture included complex optimization tasks design, tuning, and implementation of the NGINX web server.NGINX also provides technical support to Netflix.

Netflix uses Open Connect as its content delivery network, which is built with the help of NGINX. Also, NGINX works with some of the busiest websites on the internet; not only with Netflix but also websites like Pinterest, Cloudflare, WordPress, etc. NGNIX can serve thousands of requests at a time which makes it more popular.                        

NETFLIX: TRANSITION TO MICROSERVICES ARCHITECTURE

Even though transitioning from monolith architecture to microservices architecture at Netflix was complicated, it was much easier to handle and manage the services independently after the transition. Microservices architecture is best when it comes to handling a busy website with a huge number of clients such as Netflix. Independency and interoperability of microservices architecture make them more advantageous.

Want to foray into microservices? Contact our expert developer team today!
 
Are you ready to travel down the microservices road?Download and read our book, Porting from Monoliths to Microservices – Is the shift worth it?

Closing Thoughts

Netflix is an organization that pioneered migration into microservices and became a market leader through innovation. Switching to a microservices architecture can likewise create exciting opportunities for other large corporations and more control and speed for developers and system architects. 

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FAQs

Netflix microservices communicate with one another using a combination of technologies, including HTTP/REST, Apache Kafka, and Apache Thrift. HTTP/REST is used for synchronous communication between services, while Kafka and Thrift are used for asynchronous communication.

Netflix switched to microservices in order to improve scalability, reliability, and efficiency. By utilizing microservices, Netflix can easily scale up or down based on customer demand. The microservices architecture also allows Netflix to quickly and easily deploy new features, while making it easier to debug and maintain their system. Additionally, microservices enable Netflix to run on multiple cloud platforms at once, which helps them to maximize cost and performance efficiency.

Netflix started using microservices in 2009.

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