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Sorenson Releases Squeeze Server 2.0
The software features a redesigned admin console and DASH support. Streaming Media West attendees can get a first look.

Sorenson Media announced Squeeze Server 2.0 today, available immediately, featuring a redesigned administration console, faster encoding, easier installation, and greater format support, including MPEG DASH. Sorenson is currently appearing at the Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, where attendees can get a first look at the new software.

Users will benefit from easier operation with Squeeze Server 2.0, thanks to the redesigned admin console. Version 1.0 users found the console a little too complex, says Sorenson chief operating officer Eric Quanstrom, adding that beta testers for 2.0 found the new console drop-dead simple.

"It's a holistically different experience when you're using the product through the admin console," says Quanstrom.

The original Squeeze Server suffered from a sub-optimal installation process, notes Quanstrom. Version 2.0 includes everything users need to run the software - MySQL is bundled in -- so they can be up and encoding in five minutes. While database configuration was left up to the users before, Squeeze Server 2.0 removes that complexity with the addition of zero-configuration queues. Users can begin submitting jobs through the default queue as soon as the software is installed. The simplified installation, where users don't have to configure a database, also makes it easier to run Squeeze Server on a virtual server. There's an established logic to how jobs flow through the system, says Quanstrom, and that saves time and effort.

MPEG DASH is the hot topic of the moment, so it's no surprise that Sorenson has added support. That's more a move for the future than a response to consumer demand.

"It's not like we've had a customer come to us and say, ‘Support DASH or I won't buy your product,'" says Quanstrom.

DASH solves a hard problem in a relevant way, Quanstrom notes. When viewers have to wait for video to buffer, they often go away. Adaptive streaming solves the problem elegantly, he says, and DASH takes it to the next level. Sorenson is a member of the DASH Industry Forum, so it has some investment in the format's success. Squeeze Server 2.0 also adds Avid DNxHD support. This codec is used in Avid's three non-linear editors to create mezzanine files that preserve bit depth and are virtually lossless.

To deliver encoding speed improvements, Sorenson re-architected the core compression algorithm. Quanstrom notes that the company's internal tests show 200 to 400 percent speed improvements, with the biggest gains in MP4, QuickTime, Matroska, and WebM files.

"We're using a process called divide and conquer" for speed gains, says Quanstrom. That means breaking files into smaller chunks, sending them to all the server's available cores, encoding them, and then passing them back to be rejoined with no loss in quality.

"The bottom line with Squeeze: we've got wide format support and we've gotten a lot of kudos for quality. Although not new, that's no less important to the buyers of our product. It's speed, it's quality, it's workflow," says Quanstrom.

Squeeze Server 2.0 is available in two models. Buyers can make a one-time purchase of around $5,000, then pay an 18 percent annual maintenance fee as before. However, they now also have the option of buying monthly licenses when needed, an offering tailored for cloud workflows. This starts at a couple hundred dollars per license per month, and is tiered so that prices decline with additional licenses. Support is included in the monthly plan. 

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