After contributing project after project to the open-source community, Netflix has decided to see what you can do, instead.
Netflix has launched the Netflix Cloud Prize, which will pay ten developers $20,000 apiece in cash and prizes to develop projects which will be contributed to the NetflixOSS community. The projects will be broken down by category, including best new “monkey,” best data-store integration, and the like.
The contest will run from March 13 until Sept. 15, 2013, with Netflix announcing the winners Oct. 16. Users will need a GitHub account, and all entries will be shared subject to the version 2.0 Apache license.
Netflix based the new Cloud Prize on the Netflix Prize, which Netflix awarded on an annual basis from 2007 through 2009. At the time, Netflix sought better ways to improve the quality of its recommendations; fans of “Star Wars,” for example, might appreciate a note telling them to watch Harrison Ford in “Blade Runner.” In Sept. 2009, Netflix gave $1 million to a team that improved its algorithm by a full ten percent, but cancelled the prize after researchers were able to link the project’s “anonymized,” real-world dataset to actual users.
In the years since, Netflix has been active not only in developing its own internal tools, but often contributing them to the open-source community. Its archive of 24 public repositories includes projects such Asgard, for deployments and cloud management via Amazon’s Web Services (AWS), and SimianArmy, a collection of tools that instigate random failures as a way to stress-test cloud infrastructure. In 2013, Netflix began filling in the gaps so that the toolset could be used by anyone as a complete system, rather than a collection of parts.
Now, Netflix says it wants to encourage those who use its tools to help push them into different directions. “Cloud computing has become a hot topic recently, but the technology is still just emerging,” Neil Hunt, chief product officer at Netflix, wrote in a statement. “No doubt many of the key ideas that will take it to the next level have yet to be conceived, explored, and developed. The Netflix Cloud Prize is designed to attract and focus the attention of the most innovative minds to create the advances that will take cloud to the next level.”
A Readme file with directions for forking the Netflix repo is available on GitHub. Users also need to supply an email address. More rules are here. The ten prize categories include “Best example application mash-up,” “Best new monkey,” “Best contribution to code quality,” and “Best new feature.” Entries will be based on a variety of criteria, and judged by Netflix engineers and managers.