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How to Choose Open Source Streaming Technologies

Learn more about open source streaming technologies at the next Streaming Media West.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Rema Morgan-Aluko: I would say the selection criteria for open source technologies as it relates to video are the same as what you would do for deciding what type of software or what type of open source you use for anything that you're building. First and foremost, does this piece of software do what you need it to do? Does it have the features that you're looking for? And then second, the community is really, really important. You don't want to work with a product that has no support, that has no one adding to it because what happens when you need something? Are you going to rely on the community to do it, or do you need to actually add to it yourself? Do you need to contribute to the community yourself? And if there's no one else helping you, that could be a waste.

It's really about what this tool can do for you. Is it backed by a great community? I don't know if there's that much value in knowing that there's a bunch of other folks or some big names using it. It's really about, does it work for me and my team? Do we have the expertise to plug it into our system? We've spent a lot of time building systems so that we can plug and play different tools. Will this work in with the rest of our ecosystem?

Jason Thibeault: Anybody else want to add to that?

Steve Heffernan: I would second the importance of making sure you have the team to implement it and back it up. There are details like with FFmpeg, if you put the input parameter in the wrong place, it's going to have different results. You wouldn't necessarily know that unless you actually spend time with it and learn some of these things and learn how to optimize. That's very different from a proprietary system where you can call up support and read a manual--not that FFmpeg has a manual, but there's a lot going on in there. You've just got to know what you're getting into.

Yuriy Reznik: In my view, there is really a two-step decision logic involved in using opensource. First is to decide if you really want to invest in that area or not. Is this your core expertise, or is this not your core expertise? You still need to have this functionality in your system to build the product. The second question is between selecting a vendor who does it, who provides us an SDK, or provides this functionality. And then if you try to look within a third-party vendor doing it versus open source is a first question. Maturity, completeness, credibility, how proven at this. I the difference between a commercial implementation and open source is not significant, maybe open source is good enough.

Rob Dillon: With us being broadcasters, it really kind of boiled down to what the purpose of the product was. We ran very lean. We didn't have a lot of people. Even with me having direct technical reports, we didn't have a lot of time. I've been in this forever so I could use basic command lines for FFmpeg and stuff. But for a player--which is mission critical for us--I was at 43 TV stations in a cable network and the player was critical. But I had to have somebody that, if it broke, I could call and scream at because I didn't have enough people to sit there and work with you or work with the community. So we ended up going with an outside vendor who I believe is based on your work. I'm not 100% sure because I like your product.

It's just I couldn't support it myself and if it broke, I had to have support. OBS is kind of interesting in the fact that sometimes you get the community to listen to you and other times the questions don't get answered ever. So the community behind it also has a lot to do with it because if I'm going to expect my neophytes at the TV stations to support themselves on these products, the community better, not the old and mature and cranky like me--the FFmpeg community is where as a newbie comes in. I mean, they're torn to shreds, like it's a feeding time. So I have to also look at that and I might be the best support ever, but you have to get through so many level levels of trolling and being called a noob. I can't put my people through that.

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Will Open Source Streaming Save You Money?

FandangoNOW's Rema Morgan-Aluko, Mux's Steve Heffernan, and Streaming Video Alliance's Jason Thibeault discuss practical reasons for deciding between open source and commercial streaming tools in this clip from Streaming Media West 2019. Learn more at www.streamingmedia.com/west