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Video in the Cloud: Sorenson, Amazon, Zencoder, LiveTranscoding.com

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Is cloud-based video encoding and delivery the best choice for your company? Cloud services are hot right now, and some companies are thriving by putting their videos off-site. To help interested content owners make the right choice, StreamingMedia.com hosted a webinar yesterday with four leaders in the field.

Representatives from Zencoder, Sorenson Media, Amazon Web Services, and LiveTranscoding.com addressed the attendees, and some common themes quickly emerged. With cloud services, video encoding and delivery can instantly scale up to satisfy large encoding needs or viewing spikes. Customers only pay for the computing instances they use, so there's no waste during slow periods.

Cloud services are also continuously upgraded and require no in-house IT support. They remove the burden of adding support for new video formats, panelists said.

Giving an example from PBS, Jon Dahl, co-founder and CEO of Zencoder, showed how cloud delivery was able to support traffic spikes, letting the network have hundreds of instances when needed, but zero during slow times. 

The advantages of going with an on-premises solution, noted Kirk Punches, vice president of business development for Sorenson Media, is that companies have control over the hardware, don't have to pay data transfer expenses, and don't need to meet a bandwidth requirement. The cons are that it has a fixed capacity, must be managed by IT, and is a capital expenditure.

When Netflix needed to transcode over 17,000 movies and TV shows quickly to support the PlayStation 3, it turned that 80TB of data over to Amazon Cloud Services, said Tal Saraf, general manager for Amazon Cloud Services. While the material was in 19 different formats and Netflix needed 6 bit rates plus one audio rate, Amazon used 1,200 EC2 instances to finish the job in days.

Live events have different challenges, noted Thomas Vander Stichele, CTO and founder of LiveTranscoding.com. He said that his company works with several data centers and puts no more than 25 percent of its deployment with any one provider. He also advised customers to make sure they try a delivery service before settling on it.

During the question and answer period, attendees asked specifics about latency, format support, and upload times. The webinar will be archived on StreamingMedia.com for 90 days. It's free to watch, but requires registration.

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