Review: Flumotion Streaming Server

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Target Markets
“We’ve designed the Flumotion Server product for the average user, such as a marketing director for a large company”, says Fumagalli. “He or she may want to use video as part of their marketing efforts, but doesn’t need video as a core of the business. What we are seeking to address is those companies that want to use video as a natural next step in their promotion.”

When asked about market segments, Atzesberger says that there are two primary market segments for the server product: those who want to create their own content delivery network, whether in-house or externally, and those business-to-consumer companies that want to do what Fumagalli is suggesting above.

“We work with TV or radio stations”, says Fumagalli, “in addition to the enterprise. We see that there are those companies using our server that want to create a business and those companies who want to promote a business.”

The wizards, which are prompted as part of the setup, include a set of check boxes and pull-down menus to choose audio, video, or a combination of both. The software recognised a TV card and sound card that were in our test unit. The software also prompts for detailed options on any capture devices in the machine, although these options can be left at default in most cases.

This ability to encode content from directly within the server is somewhat unique, as most streaming servers separate encoding and serving. While there are valid reasons for separating the two, the Flumotion price point makes it attractive as both an encoder and a server. Fluendo also sees the European market as ready for a solution that not only includes the server but also includes an encoding solution. As such, Flumotion Streaming Server works both with onboard encoding cards and TV tuners as well as with a select number of external appliances.

Flumotion Streaming Server is modular by design, with the idea that customers may want to start small and grow into the product. A file-based, video-on-demand core solution sells for around $300, while a full solution including the streamer engine, video on-demand, live streaming, and all video and audio codecs/formats sells for around $1,200.

“We have an average solution, priced at $995”, says Fumagalli, “that is a basic solution for Flash, but our full solution provides all the codecs that Wowza and others don’t provide, so we see our solution as easier to quickly implement.”

Once encoding was underway, we used the administration panel to verify our video and audio encoding as well as basic stream statistics such as client count (current, average, and peak) and bandwidth consumption both in bitrates and total bytes, although it would probably be better to have these in kilobits/megabits and megabytes, respectively.

For those considering a switch to a Linux-based server, a word of caution about streaming servers in general: As with many Linux applications, one of the issues is obtaining all the licenses and codes for formats that have been ported to Linux. Fluendo claims it addresses this issue by including format licenses for the most popular formats, including Flash, Windows Media, MP3, OGG (both Theora and Vorbis), H264, and AAC.

The current version, though, does not yet support live Silverlight streaming, which is scheduled to be available in early 2010, as will Smooth Streaming and Silverlight H.264 on-demand and live support.

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