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Akamai promotes Encoding.com in major migration effort

Encoding.com might not be the first name on people’s lips when musing about the video transcoding market, and in fact we recall the company’s frustration at being left out of the cloud transcoding forecast from our research arm Rethink TV a couple of years ago. That said, the US vendor has just nabbed what looks to be a huge deal with Akamai involving a substantial customer migration project.

As of last week, Akamai announced it has begun retiring Media Service On Demand (MSoD) transcoding services, its complementary VoD transcoding product, instead sliding in Encoding.com, a long-term media processing partner of Akamai turned preferred partner for a major transition project. It means Akamai is now recommending customers transition to Encoding.com’s cloud transcoding platform before April 2019 – and suffice it to say, Akamai has a hefty customer list.

We got in touch with Encoding.com CEO Jeff Malkin, who could not reveal the scale of the deal or any other details for that matter, and instead waxed lyrical about Encoding.com being the “market leader” – a term he mentioned countless times during our brief email exchange. He at least admitted it was unlikely that 100% of Akamai customers will migrate to Encoding.com, but still it has a pretty good starting position.

“Akamai completed a 6-month technical and commercial evaluation of the leading cloud VoD vendors and chose Encoding.com (all relevant players were evaluated). A handful of the largest media companies in the world have made massive bets on Encoding.com.  And, we’re about to close the largest cloud VoD processing deal ever (based on volume, revenue, etc.),” Malkin told Faultline Online Reporter.

Akamai has not specifically said why its MSoD service is ending, yet it seems clear Akamai needs to offset the falling prices of CDN services somehow, so recruiting Encoding.com and taking a cut of the revenues seems like the name of the game here.

Of course, Akamai has integrations with most transcoding companies and says it will maintain these relationships for now in the wake of the pledge to Encoding.com, yet the move could indeed be a retaliation to CDN rival Limelight which now offers its own transcoding technologies. These can be accessed by customers of its MMD (Multi-device Media Delivery) Live product, a cloud-based feature for transcoding live video streams into multiple bitrates and covers on the fly transmuxing into different formats, for desktops, mobile devices, set tops and smart TVs.

So, existing Akamai customers will have access to Encoding.com’s roster of technologies with micro-services including packaging, automated QC, DRM, dynamic ad insertion and streaming conditioning, forensic watermarking, Nielsen support and programmatic editing features, as well as its flagship video transcoding capabilities.

Encoding.com is already closely integrated within the Akamai NetStorage, allowing video content to move easily between the two platforms, and Adaptive Media Delivery products, meaning the transition should be a smooth ride with the respective engineering teams familiarized. The US vendor also says it has implemented the exact same video profiles currently available within Akamai’s MSoD platform so customers can continue to produce video content for target web, mobile and set top platforms without any issues or interruptions.

It’s worth nothing US encoding heavyweight Harmonic is an investor in Encoding.com, injecting a “significant” amount back in 2014. Malkin told us Encoding.com has now migrated Harmonic’s entire video business to a cloud-based SaaS, after Harmonic “saw the writing on the wall” – in that media and entertainment customers no longer need to invest in or manage infrastructure for video transcoding and packaging.

Encoding.com also says it has recently been migrating “huge customers” from on-premise encoding farms to its cloud service. It claims several live linear services use Encoding.com via its integrated API to manage the bulk of VoD requirements for large customers, claiming a couple of years ago that Turner, Viacom and Discovery all saw Encoding.com as a big part of their futures, without specifically citing them as customers, implying trials which may or may not have blossomed into deals.

The platform operates over 35 different engines underneath its API – including commercial and open-source transcoders, packagers, standards conversion, Dolby, automated QC, closed-caption conversion, image processing, and more. It boasts best-of-breed technology (remaining encoder agnostic), scalability and being designed to adapt to changing OTT requirements as the three main ingredients contributing to its growth in recent years, to the tune of about 40% revenue rise year on year.

In a nut shell, “It’s more about video pipeline job orchestration at massive scale than anything else,” said Malkin.

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