Netflix Opens up About Open Source

Even though it is generally accepted that open source is used widely throughout the business world, it doesn't hurt having a few high-profile examples to point to when people doubt its suitability for this role. Obvious ones like Google and...

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Even though it is generally accepted that open source is used widely throughout the business world, it doesn't hurt having a few high-profile examples to point to when people doubt its suitability for this role. Obvious ones like Google and Amazon have been joined more recently by the likes of Facebook and Twitter. And now here's another well-known name opening up, Netflix:

We do utilize some commercial software but there is often the alternative choice of utilizing open source software, preferably open source software that implements an open standard. Open source software projects often originate as a labor of love by software developers who are tired of seeing a shared problem solved over and over again in one off solutions, or perhaps they realize that they can offer a more simple and elegant alternative to a commercial product. The great thing about a good open source project that solves a shared challenge is that it develops it's own momentum and it is sustained for a long time by a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement. At Netflix we jumped on for the ride a long time ago and we have benefited enormously from the virtuous cycles of actively evolving open source projects. We benefit from the continuous improvements provided by the community of contributors outside of Netflix. We also benefit by contributing back the changes we make to the projects. By sharing our bug fixes and new features back out into the community, the community then in turn continues to improve upon bug fixes and new features that originated at Netflix and then we complete the cycle by bring those improvements back into Netflix.

Here is an incomplete sampling of the projects we utilize, we have contributed back to most of them: Hudson, Hadoop, Hive, Honu, Apache, Tomcat, Ant, Ivy, Cassandra, HBase, etc, etc.

What's useful here is that Netflix is a very different company from either Google or Facebook, say; and so its message of support for open source confirms the latter's ability to serve a wide spectrum of users. Moreover, the list of open source programs it uses and contributes to extends well beyond the classical LAMP stack that many associate might with free software, which confirms its breadth in a different, but equally important way.

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