Apr 29, 2021

Why Disney+ chose AWS cloud for global streaming rollout

Cloud
streaming
covid-19
Data
William Smith
2 min
Streaming has become an increasingly important part of a number of giant companies' offerings, requiring extensive cloud infrastructure behind the scenes
Streaming has become an increasingly important part of a number of giant companies' offerings, requiring extensive cloud infrastructure behind the scene...

Disney+, which launched in November of 2019, contains a mix of specially commissioned content and access to a stable of Marvel owned properties including Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. It recently surpassed 100 million subscribers worldwide, and leverages Amazon’s AWS cloud to serve its customers in 59 countries.

Overcoming streaming’s technical hurdles

AWS cloud technologies relied on by Disney+ include dedicated streaming products including Amazon Kinesis and Amazon Timestream, as well as Amazon’s DynamoDB database to track content, metadata and user actions in order to make watch recommendations.

“Disney+ has completely reinvented what’s possible in content delivery by challenging convention and using cloud technology to build a streaming product from scratch that had never been launched and marketed before on such a global scale,” said Joe Inzerillo, executive vice president & CTO, direct-to-consumer, The Walt Disney Company. “AWS has been our preferred cloud provider for years, and its proven global infrastructure and expansive suite of services has contributed meaningfully to the incredible success of Disney+.”

The move to cloud services

Streaming has become an increasingly important part of a number of giant companies' offerings - even those without the impressive back catalogue of content that Disney has - as COVID-19 enforced lockdowns have left individuals in search of new forms of entertainment.

That’s part of a wider pivot to services as a source of renewable income. Take Apple for instance, which joined the streaming sector with the launch of Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, TV and game streaming products respectively. Since then, the company has experienced impressive growth in the number of paid accounts, with total services revenue reaching $16.90bn in its latest quarterly results.

“Disney+ brings beloved characters and timeless stories to a global audience through world-class direct-to-consumer video services,” said Carla Stratfold, vice president of AWS global and strategic accounts at Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Only AWS’s proven global infrastructure and unparalleled set of capabilities deliver the reliability, scalability, and breadth of functionality to power one of the world’s most exciting streaming services and its expansion around the world. We look forward to continuing to provide comprehensive cloud capabilities and expertise to The Walt Disney Company to help them reinvent streaming entertainment for Disney fans globally.”

(Image: Disney+)

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Jun 8, 2021

Fastly's CDN Reportedly to Blame for Global Internet Outage

Technology
Fastly
servers
websites
Tilly Kenyon & Oliver James Fr...
3 min
Multiple outages have hit social media, government, and news websites across the globe

A huge outage has brought down a number of major websites around the world. Among those affected are gov.uk, Hulu, PayPal, Vimeo, and news outlets such as CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times.

It is thought a glitch at Fastly ─ a popular CDN provider ─ is causing the worldwide issue. Fastly has confirmed it’s facing an outage on its status website but fails to specify a reason for the fault ─ only that the problem isn’t limited to a single data centre and, instead, is a “global CDN disruption” that is potentially affecting the company’s global network.

“We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the firm said.

What is Fastly?

Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) company that helps users view digital content more quickly. The company also provides security, video delivery, and so-called edge computing services. They use strategically distributed, highly performant POPs to help move data and applications closer to users and deliver up-to-date content quickly.

The firm has been proving increasingly popular among leading media websites. After going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, shares rose exponentially in price, but after today’s outages, Fastly’s value has taken a sharp 5.21% fall and are currently trading at US$48.06. 

What are CDNs?

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are a web of small computers, or servers, that link together to collaborate as a single computer. CDNs improve the performance of internet-connected devices by placing these servers as close as possible to the people using those devices in different locations, creating hundreds of points of presence, otherwise known as POPs.

They help minimise delays in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. This helps users around the world view the same high-quality content without slow loading times. 

Without a CDN, content origin servers must respond to every single end-user request. This results in significant traffic to the origin and subsequent load, thereby increasing the chances for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the load is persistent.

The Risk of CDNs

Over time, developers have attempted to protect users from the dangers of overreliance through the implementation of load balancing, DDoS (Denial of Service) protection, web application firewalls, and a myriad of other security features. 

Clearly, by the state of today’s major website outage, these measures aren’t enough. Evidently, CDNs present a risk factor that is widely underestimated ─ which needs to be rectified with haste. Content delivery networks have become a key part of the global infrastructure, and so it’s imperative that organisations start to figure out risk mitigation strategies to protect companies reliant on the interconnected service from further disruption and disarray. 

Over the coming days, both Technology Magazine and Data Centre Magazine will continue to provide updates on the current situation as developments are made.

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