Sorenson Talks Partnerships and Squeeze Server on the Red Carpet
Attendees of the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles got a first look at Sorenson Server 2.0, which had just been released. During an on-camera red carpet interview, we spoke to Kirk Punches, the company's vice president of business development and strategy, about Sorenson's recent partnership with Real Networks and the new version of Squeeze Server.
"We announced Squeeze Server, our 2.0 release," said Punches. "It's been a long time in the making, and again, really takes all of our experience around building a best-in-class compression engine and all the learnings around how you create presets to support really any kind of distributable format and then combines all the things that you need to think about when you're trying to build an enterprise grade encoding server to support high volume work flows."
This new version of Squeeze Server offers a cloud option.
"It's a software licensing model. We don't really care where you deploy those licenses, and we think what really is uniquely differentiating Squeeze Server versus some others in our space, is that there's no restrictions on where you deploy those encoders," Punches said. "If I want to run 5, 10, 100 locally, but I need extra capacity in the cloud, it's very easy to go deploy our encoder on Amazon, on a Windows instance, and immediately add that into your cluster and get it added into queue so you can start ingesting content. You're never restricted by how much physical capacity you have locally."
For more from Sorenson, watch the full interview below.
Troy: Hi. This is Troy Dreier, Senior Associate Editor for StreamingMedia.com, coming to you from the Red Carpet at Streaming Media West. We like to do interviews with some of our favorite people in the industry at these Red Carpet interviews. And today I'm joined by Kirk Punches of Sorenson Media. Why don't you introduce yourself, and tell the audience what you do?
Kirk: Absolutely. So again, Kirk Punches. I'm the Vice President of Business Development and Strategy, and I've been with Sorenson about five years and really spend my time building some of our technology partnerships, and really helping other companies solve all of the complexities around video encoding and transcoding.
Troy: And one of the reasons we love you guys is you always have product announcements that seem to be timed to our shows, which is really helpful. We love when people do that. I just talked to you personally a couple weeks ago. We were at Streaming Media London, or Streaming Media Europe, it's called, and it takes place in London. And you introduced a partnership to me that you guys had just done. Why don't you tell us more about that?
Kirk: Sure. So what we were announcing at Streaming Media Europe was our partnership with RealNetworks. And what really led to that partnership was that we're often asked about live encoding, and we've traditionally been focused on file-based encoding. So it was a great partnership, because we could compliment each other. They have needs around file-based encoding, management distribution, and we could bring our Sorenson 360 platform, it's in the cloud, that can provide the management and distribution piece, as well as our desktop and server side file-based encoders. To support them, and likewise, they have a desktop live encoder and live streaming servers that fill in the blanks for us and help support our customers. So now, we can really solve all those challenges around live and file-based encoding and delivery. We're excited about the partnership.
Troy: Now, what does that mean that you're partners now? Did you all move into the same building? Is it all one big, happy family?
Kirk: That's coming next. No. This is really on day one we wanted to support each other by jointly selling our respective products, but we're already talking about how we can further integrate our technologies together. So early in that process, but the long-term goal is we want fully-integrated products so that we can make it easy for our mutual customers to check all the boxes again around live and file-based encoding and delivery management.
Troy: So take me through it. So a typical customer would come to you and they would have their own files that they need encoded, but then they wanted to get into live and they would...?
Kirk: Yeah. It could be a number of different scenarios. So we both are strong in education and government. And then we're strong in media entertainment and they support a lot of their current customers. So these cases can be everything from a university that's doing lecture capture and now needs a better mechanism to take archive lecture content and getting it into high-quality multiple formats. We can support them with that endeavor, since we support all the adaptive bit rate formats. It could be a government agency. Again, any sort of enterprise that may be doing file-based delivery, but has the occasional live event for corporate communications. It could be, again, marketing promotional material that you need to get in both live and file-based formats, as well as the occasional live event. So it runs a wide range of use cases to serve across a number of different verticals.
Troy: So if someone comes to you and they also need live and you refer them to real, how easy is that for them? Do they have one work flow? Do they have to learn new product, or are your products unified?
Kirk: Well, even today as partners, we're selling a respected solution. So if we have a Sorenson customer that wants to do live encoding and streaming, we can now offer them RealProducer and universal media server products from RealNetworks. And as far as a work flow, at least today, they're certainly separate products, but we make it easy through our watch folders to get content ingested, encoded and into a format that then can be live streamed. But again, the long-term goal is to make that kind of a single pane of glass where the user has one interface and can bring up both live or file-based encoding and then deliver to platforms like our 360 platform, our Helix Media Library, which is an on-premise content management solution.
Troy: I imagine that'll be a big step forward when there's just a single interface that can feed both systems.
Kirk: Absolutely. And so part of that process is we are already talking and trying to develop exactly what the integration point should look like, but more importantly, it's getting customer feedback, so we're not just defining it all on our own. We're bringing customers in and really trying to understand, "Okay. What would you like that work flow to look like, and what's going to be the simple path for it under, you know, a unified product strategy?"
Troy: One thing that surprised me about your announcement, and I'm not just saying this, is that there seem to be significant cost benefits when someone gets...
Kirk: That's right.
Troy: ...both together. Both seem to be really offering big discounts.
Kirk: Absolutely. The goal was, again, knowing that we've got this partnership in place. We wanted to make sure that as a bundled solution, if someone comes to Sorenson or RealNetworks and they need both a streaming server and an encoder and a file-based encoder, Squeeze Server, that we could jointly bundle those solutions, and it is a significant discount, more than 50 percent. So we think it's a great way to start off the relationship and help our customers understand what the possibilities are today as well as moving forward.
Troy: Will that kind of pricing continue, that steep discount?
Kirk: I can say "yes." It's certainly going to continue through the end of the year, and the plans are, you know, we're certainly evaluating, "What else can we do? What other ways can we help create interest and add value together?"
Troy: So let's jump forward to today or a few weeks ago, when this finally goes online. You have a new announcement, and it's a big product release, right?
Kirk: It is. So this morning, we announced Squeeze Server, our 2.0 release, and certainly excited about that. It's been a long time in the making, and again, really takes all of our experience around building a best-in-class compression engine and all the learnings around how you create presets to support really any kind of distributable format and then combines all the things that you need to think about when you're trying to build an enterprise grade encoding server to support high volume work flows. And that's, again, a big part of the announcement today is best-in-class technology that can run both locally in your own data center, in the cloud, hybrid deployment, to solve any kind of complex encoding work flow challenge.
Troy: So this one offers a cloud option that wasn't there before, right? Where someone can get a month-to-month plan and just tailor made for the cloud?
Kirk: Right. So really, think of it this way. It's a software licensing model. We don't really care where you deploy those licenses, and we think what really is uniquely differentiating Squeeze Server versus some others in our space, is that there's no restrictions on where you deploy those encoders. So again, if I want to run 5, 10, 100 locally, but I need extra capacity in the cloud, it's very easy to go deploy our encoder on Amazon, on a Windows instance, and immediately add that into your cluster and get it added into queue so you can start ingesting content. You're never restricted by how much physical capacity you have locally as you're probably aware in this multi-screen world that we live in, there's a lot more transcoding that's happening to hit all those devices, especially as you start getting into adaptive bit rate delivery. So having capacity on demand, we think, is really important to our customers, and again, really uniquely differentiates Squeeze Server.
Troy: One of the things I thought was most interesting about this release was the zero, excuse me, zero configuration options where someone can have it up and running in five minutes.
Troy: Tell me what was added to this to allow people to just load it and go.
Kirk: Sure. Well, it was rethinking our complete installation process. It was also reworking our admin console, the user interface. So again, we have a really feature-rich set of RESTful API, so you can integrate our encoding technology into any kind of work flow. But we also recognize that you've got to be able to simply and quickly get up and running. So the installation process bundles our database or MySQL database with the encoder, so installation is really couple of minutes and as soon as you're up and running with a single encoder, you've already got a default queue configured, so you could immediately start creating jobs, creating watch folders, ingesting content, in a couple of minutes without a lot of thought. And then work your way into more complex work flows and multiple queues. But we wanted to make it easy to get up and running and we think we've accomplished that.
Troy: Terrific. Well, thank you for talking to me. I look forward to seeing what big release you have for Streaming Media East in May. This is Troy Dreier coming to you from the Red Carpet.
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