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Zencoder, Haivision, Front Porch Digital: Cloud Best Practices

As the cloud begins to play a bigger role in video workflows, companies large and small have questions about working effectively with cloud systems. Providing answers were representatives from Zencoder, Haivision, and Front Porch Digital; the three took part in a webinar hosted by StreamingMedia.com that offered best practices for transcoding and video workflow in the cloud.

Leading off the webinar was Jon Dahl, cofounder and CEO of Zencoder. Dahl gave tips for managing large scale transcoding jobs effectively, advising attendees to use elastic resources. Showing an example of PBS's transcoding volume in a single day, Dahl explained that cloud transcoding could quickly handle the occasional spikes, as it provides customers with the number of servers they need when they need them.

"Large files are large," Dahl commented, addressing a common concern with cloud encoding: uploading and downloading huge files. The solution, he said, is to store files close to the video processing. Zencoder can import large files from Amazon S3 in minutes. Aspera is another option for moving large video files faster.

Next, Peter Forman, vice president of business development for Haivision, addressed the workflow challenges of live video transcoding. During a live event, uplink bandwidth is often an issue. Hiring a satellite truck is one solution, but a costly one. Live cloud transcoding, he said, is a stronger solution, where one stream is sent to the cloud, then transcoded and distributed from there.

When shopping for a live cloud transcoder, Forman suggested, look for one that can ingest a variety of video formats, such as RTMP, RTSP, and TS. Cloud transcoding can reduce uplink bandwidth by 90 percent or more, reduce capital costs, simplify operations, and let companies leverage their existing streaming workflows, he said.

Finishing up the webinar was Brian Campanotti, CTO for Front Porch Digital, who addressed online storage. Media organizations have big data needs, he said, and need more than a drop box in the cloud. What they need is a solution that can tie together with any workflow, inputting from any source, whether that's a device, system, or computer. The solution should also be able to deliver to any destination platform.

One problem with storing large amounts of data in the cloud is that it gets to be expensive at high volumes. A better solution, Campanotti said, is to extend the surety of tape backups into the cloud, uploading material that is then loaded for long-term storage on tapes. Tapes can then be physically shipped back and forth, or files can be moved by WAN. Front Porch Digital launched its Lynx cloud-based service in January, targeted to media and entertainment companies.

During the question-and-answer period, attendees asked about latency and security with cloud systems.

For more, view the entire webinar, "Best Practices for Transcoding and Video Workflow in the Cloud." It will be archived online for 90 days.

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