Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Women in Cloud Meetup at Netflix

By Shobana Radhakrishnan

We recently held a Meetup on our campus for Bay Area women in the Cloud Space, in collaboration with Cloud-NOW. Women from across a number of companies and backgrounds related to Cloud attended the event and participated in talks and panel discussions on various technical topics related to the cloud. I kicked off the evening, introducing Yury Izrailevsky, VP Cloud Computing and Platform Engineering at Netflix. Yury talked about the story of how Netflix entered Cloud Computing with their streaming service and scaled it by 100 times in 4 years, and how women engineers were a significant part of that effort. I also shared how Netflix engineering scales along two dimensions - strong technology and tools leveraging open source extensively, as well as a nimble culture without bureaucracy or unnecessary process.


Cloud-NOW's Rita Scroggin, as co-host, introduced this non-profit consortium of the leading women in cloud computing, focused on using technology for the overall professional development of women (cloud-now.org).

Keynote speaker Annika Jimenez took the stage next. Annika is Global head of Data Science Services at Pivotal, the brand-new Big Data spinoff of EMC and VMware, in which GE has invested as well. Annika shared with the audience the reasons for why data science is changing the way data computing is done. She showed how internet giants like Netflix, Google, Yahoo! and Facebook are leading the way to big data in the cloud, and that so much more work remains to be done.

Devika Chawla spoke next. She leads the Netflix engineering team that is moving all the customer messaging to the cloud - those messages we get inviting us to join, create accounts, watch suggested movies, provide commentary and rejoin if we happen to have lapsed. Devika's team must be able to do this across devices (phone, iPad, TV…), to individuals as well as the entire Netflix user base, and ever-faster. Building in the Cloud enables them to meet this challenge scalably and cost-effectively.

This was followed by various breakout sessions covering topics such as Cloud Security (IBM’s Uma Subramaniam with Netflix’s Jason Chan as co-host), Testing in a multi-cloud environment (Dell’s Seema Jethani with Netflix’s Sangeeta Narayanan as co-host) and Metrics for the cloud (Jeremy Edberg from Netflix and Globalization Expert Jessica Roland). Fang Ji also gave a peek at internal Netflix tools for monitoring cloud cost and performance, including AWSUsage which will be OSS soon. Panel Discussion on Engineering leadership from Verticloud leaders Ellen Salisbury and Anna Sidana, as well as insight into how the Freedom and Responsibility culture works for engineering from Netflix VP of Talent Acquisition Jessica Neal, rounded out the discussion sessions.


Afterward, participants were treated to some incredible sushi and a tour of some of our most exciting product demos, including some of the popular Netflix open source contributions. This included:
  • Asgard - web interface for application deployments and management in Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Garbage Collection Visualization (or GCViz) - Tool that turns the semi-structured data from the java garbage collector's gc.log into time-series charts for easy visual analysis. On Github here.
  • Genie, Lipstick and Sting - suite of tools, deployable on top of the Hadoop ecosystem, that enables even non-technical users to develop, tune, and maintain efficient Hadoop workflows and easily interact with and visualize datasets.
  • Hystrix and Turbine - used to understand API traffic patterns and system behavior. More at this blog post.

With about two petabytes of data in cloud, serving more than 36 million subscribers across more than 50 countries and territories, Netflix is always evolving new tools to manage our cloud systems, and encouraging innovation with prizes like our Cloud Prize. Deadline is September 15!
We are also always seeking the best engineering talent to help - check out jobs.netflix.com if interested in solving these challenges.