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Transcoding: In-House or In the Cloud?
It's the great transcoding debate: Do it in-house, or enlist a cloud-based service to do it for you? This Streaming Media East panel addresses the pros and cons of both approaches.
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For all the different use cases for online video, from media and entertainment to the enterprise, there's one constant: If you're putting video online, you're transcoding it. And increasingly, you're transcoding it for delivery to multiple screens for the office, home, and mobile devices. So it's no surprise that one of the most popular sessions at this year's Streaming Media East was the session "Transcoding: In-House or In the Cloud?"

The session featured two cloud vendors—Sorenson Media and Amazon—and two end users—Shutterfly and SchoolTube, both of which are using cloud-based transcoding services. Although there were no in-house transcoding representatives on the panel, the discussion is well-balanced in addressing the pros and cons of both the in-house and in-the-cloud approaches.

Shutterfly's nascent video service  deals with lots of  spikes, particularly right after holidays, and so decided to go with a cloud-based transcoding service rather than invest in an on-premise solution that could handle transcoding spikes but be under-utilized most of the time. Shutterfly VP and GM of services Karl Wiley walks through Shutterfly's evaluation process, which ultimately resulted in choosing Sorenson's Squeeze Server cloud solution.

SchoolTube started doing its encoding in-house, but soon switched to Zencoder's cloud transcoding when it came to the same conclusion that Shutterfly did: Because of the cyclical nature of its business and an inability to accurately predict transcoding volume, an in-house solution no longer made sense, and SchoolTube's Michael Christopher discusses why a pay-as-you-go service makes sense for the company.

Even organizations that do have a robust in-house transcoding solution are beginning to embrace cloud encoding, driven by the proliferation of new devices, said Sorenson Media's David Dudas. "Those who have their own in-house transcoding systems are getting to the point where they're fed up, the maintenance is too high, the complexity is too high, just the nature of the art is too complex, and now with these cloud-based services, it's really easy to just 'rip and switch,'" said Dudas. "You find a cloud-based service, they have an API, you can plug it into the backend and essentially seamlessly transition the backend while the front end stays stable, and your customers never know the difference."

Amazon's Tal Saraf points out that organizations with a deep archive of existing content that needs to be re-transcoded for new devices (such as PBS, an Amazon EC2 customer) are also turning to the cloud because of its pay as you go nature rather than investing the CAPEX in their own hardware.

And what about pricing? Watch the video below for a discussion of that and other topics related to cloud transcoding.

Transcoding: In-House or in the Cloud?

Content owners can now choose from a large number of new transcoding solutions including in-house enterprise-class software and hardware appliances; cloud-based solutions; and transcoding services offered by CDNs and other third-party vendors. Given this breadth of choices, choosing the right transcoding mechanism, or combination of mechanisms, has significant impact on the cost, quality, security, and reliability of the overall solution. This session focuses on the benefits and trade-offs of each mechanism and helps you select the best solution for your needs.

Moderator: Arjun Saksena, Lead Product Manager, Yahoo! Video Platform
Speaker: Karl Wiley, VP, GM of Services, Shutterfly
Speaker: David Dudas, VP, Video Solutions, Sorenson Media
Speaker: Michael Christopher, Head of Engineering, SchoolTube
Speaker: Tal Saraf, GM, CloudFront, Amazon

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