Cloud encoding services are Internet-based companies to which you upload your source video files and then choose encoding and delivery parameters. They encode and deliver your files to the designated locations and/or third-party services. By using cloud encoding, you could create and market a user-generated content Web site and, with little additional capital expenditure, start encoding as you go. Whichever cloud encoding platform you choose, you don't want to take a step backward in your encoding practices. Since there will be some startup costs and time, you should do what you can to check the financial stability of the service that you choose and minimize your exposure should the company go under. If you intend to run your own quality comparisons between the various cloud encoding services and between them and your current encoding solution, don't expect it to be a simple process.
ENCODING in the Cloud Is it time to put cloud encoding on your radar? by Jan Ozer s streaming media enters its second decade, it’s Who should consider cloud encoding? Well, I’ll detail A not all that often that we get to explore a totally new topic. But now we do, as I recently took my first look at cloud encoding. What is cloud encoding? At a that later in the article. For now, if you’re considering buying a workstation-class computer solely for encoding (or you just did), cloud encoding should be on your high level, it’s an internet-based service that encodes radar. You should also read on if you’re even casually your uploaded source video files and delivers them back interested in cloud computing in general, as the to you or your distribution partners. infrastructure used by most of the cloud encoding Why cloud encoding, and why today? We like to talk companies is pretty fascinating stuff. about delivering to three screens—computer, TV, and mobile—but if you take a moment to do the math, it can What Is Cloud Encoding? easily jump to 20 or 30 screens. For delivery to computers, Cloud encoding services are internet-based you’ve got services such as Hulu, YouTube, Yahoo! Video, companies to which you upload your source video files blip.tv, Veeple, Vimeo, Brightcove, Ooyala, and VMIX. In and then choose encoding and delivery parameters. the living room, you’ve got different cable providers and They encode and deliver your files to the designated different devices, and for mobile, it’s challenging to even locations and/or third-party services. estimate the total number of available devices and Pretty straightforward stuff, eh? What’s not so transparent services. Understanding and economically delivering is the proper acronym. Candidates are Software as a compatible video files and metadata to these screens is Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and an increasingly technical and logistical challenge. Platform as a Service (PaaS), and the ideal cloud encoding Then there’s the cost of building and maintaining service should provide components of all three. rendering farms. An eight-core Nehalem-based rendering station costs about $10,000, plus software and staffing How Does Cloud Encoding Work? costs. Unless you’re in the business of providing encoding There are two aspects to this question. Operationally, services for third parties, these costs are all ancillary to your to get your files encoded, you upload your source video core business (e.g., overhead) and must be minimized. files to the cloud encoding service, typically through 28 STREAMING MEDIA June/July 2009 some type of XML or REST-based API. (REST, which upload time, some services recommend encoding your encoding in the cloud stands for REpresentational State Transfer, is a protocol source files into a mezzanine format, say 720p H.264 at popular for web-based services.) Some services also 25Mbps, which is smaller than your source file but enable a more casual interface for less-automated visually identical in terms of quality. activities, such as creating FTP-based watch folders or even direct file upload similar to YouTube. Once Who Needs Cloud Encoding? uploaded, you create and designate encoding templates There are several types of organizations that are ideal and delivery destinations, just like you would with a candidates for cloud encoding, particularly user- desktop program, and then start the encoding job. generated content (UGC) sites, where upload times are Again, pretty straig
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