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Encoding.com Licenses Sorenson Spark Codec

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It's a surprising announcement for anyone following the online video industry: Cloud-based video encoder Encoding.com has licensed the Sorenson Spark codec from Sorenson Media. Peter Csathy, Sorenson's president and CEO, broke the news in a blog post.

"It's a deal we've been negotiating for a long time," says Encoding.com president Jeff Malkin. "Our focus as the leading encoding provider is to support all popular Web and mobile formats."

What makes the deal surprising is that Sorenson, which makes a leading desktop encoder Sorenson Squeeze, has recently entered cloud services. On November 2, Sorenson announced Sorenson Squeeze Server, which offers high-volume cloud-based encoding.

When asked at the time if Encoding.com should be worried about the release, Eric Quanstrom, Sorenson's COO, said, "Probably."

Malkin's response was a Twitter post that certainly referred to the Sorenson announcement: "Adding ‘cloud' to the name of your new encoding service does not simply make it so."

In an interview, Malkin had a chance to expand on that thought.

"As the leading provider of the hosted encoding space, we don't spend very much time looking in the rearview mirror. However, companies that we do pay attention to as competitors are those that understand the nature of true cloud computing"

Malkin's issue is that Sorenson Squeeze Server isn't providing the service it claims to provide.

"I would say that we believe at Encoding.com that to take advantage of real cloud infrastructure, it's really about what we call elastic capacity. Elastic capacity is all about growing and shrinking your infrastructure and that is a huge value proposition to a cloud encoding provider," he says.

Based on conversations he's had with Sorenson executives and others in the space, Malkin says he believes that Sorenson's solution can only encode one video at a time, and he thinks that customers will see the difference. Encoding.com offers instant scalability and constant evolution, he adds.

"I don't actually think that they're competing with us and other encoding providers, although they might disagree," he says. "If I thought they were a direct competitor, I probably wouldn't have a working relationship with them."


Peter Csathy, Sorenson Media's president and CEO, sent us this response:

I agree with Jeff that Encoding.com (and others like it) are not direct competitors to Squeeze Server. We are the first and only enterprise-grade cloud-based transcoding solution, whereas we view others as being focused on small- to medium-sized businesses. As examples, only we offer dedicated instances, a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and the peace of mind of working with our encoding experts who have been innovating for over 15 years. And, unlike others who depend upon open-source ffmpeg, we have the power of our proprietary Squeeze encoding engine which has been respected for quality for years. To be clear, of course we can encode multiple files concurrently (not sure where that came from); and, of course we have significant experience with full scaling—Squeeze Server, as an example, supports Shutterfly's video sharing service. I am quite sure that Shutterfly alone dwarfs the size and volume of any customer for anyone else in the cloud-based transcoding market.

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