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Encoding.com Brings Cloud Transcoding to the Desktop

When StreamingMedia.com's Jan Ozer first looked at cloud transcoding this past summer, one of his biggest complaints about all the SaaS offerings was how complicated (and, in some cases, downright difficult) it was to actually get the source files to the transcoding service. Encoding.com is hoping to change with an Adobe AIR application that lets users drag-and-drop videos directly from their desktops rather than going through an FTP server.

Though not officially announced until today, the "cloud-powered desktop encoding," as the company calls it, has actually been available to Encoding.com customers for a few months, in direct response to customer feedback. "We've focused a lot of energy in recent months to improve the uploading process," says COO Jeff Malkin. "It used to be you could only access the service via our API. Once we had that nailed, we added a watch folder functionality based on the API, which made it much easier. You tell us where the watch folder is located, and we'll put it right back there when it's done."

Malkin says that watch folder functionality opened up Encoding.com's services both to smaller companies that might not have development resources and also to companies that have large archives of video but don't necessarily require daily encoding.

The Adobe AIR application takes it one step further, Malkin says. Users are able to drag multiple videos to the AIR interface, choose the output formats and parameters, and then deliver the encoded videos back to their desktops or to FTP, SFTP, S3, Amazon S3, or Cloud Files location. "It really opens up the whole world of large-scale desktop encoding to anyone," Malkin says, "not just to people who can afford higher-end hardware-based encoders."

Of course, there are plenty of software encoding tools available, but for multiple-format, high-volume encoding, they can be a bit limited. Plus, they tie up much of the computer's processing power, meaning the user might be unable to do much else on the system while the transcode is taking place.

According to the Encoding.com press release, "users can drag videos onto the interface, select or edit from a number of output format presets, and deliver encoded videos to an FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3, Cloud Files location." Currently, Encoding.com is doing about 10,000 to 15,000 transcodes a day, Malkin says, adding that the capacity exists for much larger numbers. "We had a small outage recently, and the day after the recovery, we did 30,000 within an hour," Malkin says, adding that they recently did a job for Time Warner that involved transcoding more than 100,000 videos in a weekend. In the event of outages, customers are now covered by a service-level agreement (SLA) that the company implemented this summer. One of the guarantees in the SLA is a capacity of 50GB per hour per customer; another is that a file won't sit in the queue for more than four minutes before the transcode begins.

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