Netflix Down!

Recently, the Netflix video streaming service went down for several hours. As a fellow SaaS provider, we feel their pain. In fact, we feel the pain every time there’s a service disruption from any online provider. These events always brings out the "I told you so” naysayers who think that there’s a better answer in on-premise solutions.

But is there?  Let’s think about the alternatives, using Netflix as an example.

First, let’s say that your on-site alternative to Netflix was owning your own DVD player and watching movies the old fashioned way. In this case a “service disruption” would be a failure of your DVD player.

How long will it take you to fix that situation?  A least several hours, including driving to the store, shelling out a couple hundred bucks for a new DVD player, bringing it home, hooking it up, and then finally watching your movie. So, you’re not only deprived of watching video for a couple of hours, but you’ve also had to spend time and money to get back to where you started.

Netflix users, on the other hand, had service restored without lifting a finger, and it didn’t cost them a dime. In fact, Netflix will reimburse anyone who asks.

What are the other alternatives?  Netflix users also have offline options for enjoying video using the DVDs and mailers that are part of the service. Note that the online streaming problems had no effect on people’s ability to watch a DVD locally on their own equipment. This is bit like built-in redundancy. So, the Netflix customer who really wanted to watch a movie during that brief period when the streaming service was unavailable had other options from the service provider already.

Your traditional on-premise solution doesn’t provide any other inherent options—when it’s down, it’s down. And unless you want to drive to the movies, you’re just out of luck.

The Netflix story has a lot to say to those of us participating in the emerging field of Security as a Service.

The first is that service restoral from an online provider is normally quicker and cheaper than in any other scenario involving on-premise solutions (and, yes, we all know that on-premise computer systems fail).

Second, many of the services, like Brivo’s own access control system, actually continue working using a local data cache even when networks are down. In that case, there is no real service disruption at all—and, yes, you still get to watch your movie whenever you want.

Posted by Steve Van Till on Nov 29, 2010

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