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Cloud Video Encoding vs In-House Solution: What suits you?

Eric Fontaine (@EricFontaine_)

August 14, 2018 Resources

Scalability, easier and faster deployment, no need to keep abreast of the latest video technology: so many reasons to move your system to a professional, third-party, cloud-based video encoding service.

On the other hand, an in-house video encoding solution can make sense and bring greater control over your overall video workflow.

The In-House Encoding Vision

Doing encoding in-house can bring you many benefits, such as total control of your video workflow and the capacity to manage, edit, and encode very, very large video files (usually over 1 terabyte). These types of long-form, heavy video content need a lot of bandwidth and moving them to the cloud can be time-consuming.

Unfortunately, there are also many constraints when building an in-house system.

Firstly, you need to set up, but also maintain and update both encoding software and hardware. You also need to manage a huge server farm. To do this, you will have to hire a highly skilled IT person, because video encoding can easily and quickly become very tricky.

Video Encoding Server

The other big challenge is scalability. With an in-house solution, it is very difficult to plan for peak utilization. If you (or one of your clients) start encoding a lot of videos at the same time, all the content can instantly queue and thus cause huge delays in processing.

Consequently, you must think ahead and always have a larger video encoder farm than you really need, to meet any unexpected demand.

Lastly, all these things have a cost. Maintaining / updating your system and hiring IT staff are all very expensive and will definitely trigger an explosion in capital expenditure.

The Cloud Makes Video Encoding Easy

The enormous hassle involved in in-house video transcoding is often the reason for tech companies deciding to move into the cloud video encoding.

By doing this, they free themselves from updating and fixing encoding software and hardware. They don't need to maintain a system any more or hire someone else to do it for them. Objectively it is a great relief. There's the video codec, video container, audio codec, resolution, bitrates, HD, SD, and all the settings that need to be examined. A cloud-based video encoding company will handle all these things for you.

Cloud Video Encoding

Another critical point is scalability. If they work for customers whose video encoding activity is difficult to plan, they are sure to suffer from long queuing times because they can't adapt their server's farm in real time. Thus, they will never be able to provide a high level of service. Outsourcing video encoding to a professional, third-party, cloud-based service is the key. This means any company will always get the right video encoding capacity at the time it needs it. Furthermore, from the pricing point of view, cloud encoding means you only pay for what you use. It is 100% flexible because you don't pay for unused server resources. You always get the right pricing which makes it easier to manage your profit margins. Finally, slashing costs: building your own system means purchasing and renewing hardware / software. Plus all the expense involved in running this type of solution: hiring IT staff for maintenance and support, plus current expenditure, including electricity and floor space.

Currently, the biggest challenge for cloud encoding is handling very large files, because this requires a lot of bandwidth and it can be a waste of time. However, as networks get faster and faster, even huge files won't be a big deal in the near future.

Companies may fear a lack of security, but the cloud is less vulnerable thanks to its clustered and redundant nature and the anonymity of its farm location. Moreover, file transfer between servers is highly encrypted, particularly when using HTTPS protocol.

The perfect match

Each solution has its advantages and suits different needs. It would be difficult for a film studio to edit and encode very large video files in the cloud. Therefore, an in-house solution would be the right approach.

On the other hand, if you are starting an online company (Web, mobile, or both), working with a third-party, cloud-based video transcoding service is by far the best solution. Companies can free themselves from the headaches involved in building their online video project and focus on their business.

Unfortunately, many young companies, lacking in funds, often think that building their own system will help them to save money. They are totally wrong. At Coconut we saw dozens of startups coming to us, in a state of crisis, having spent months trying to do their own encoding.

Video encoding is a truly critical core process when launching a video project. Video transcoding requires knowledge and experience and should be carried out by video experts.

When you've read this, you may think we are just trying to feather our own nest. But too many people take video encoding too lightly and make huge, irreversible, technical mistakes that cause their projects to fail.

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