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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Video at ICPSR - OAIS and Access

We're taking a pretty close look at Kaltura as the access platform for a video collection we are ingesting. Here's why....

If we look at the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) lifecycle, most of the Ingest work is taking place outside of ICPSR. (In fact, other than providing much of the basic IT resources, like disk storage, our role is very small in this part of the lifecycle.) Managing the content and keeping copies in Archival Storage is a good fit for ICPSR's strengths; the content is in MP4 format and has metadata marked up in Media RSS XML, so that's relatively solid.

The big questions for us are all on the Access side of OAIS. Questions like:

  • How many of the 20k videos will be viewed on a routine basis?  Or ever?
  • How many people will want to view videos simultaneously?
  • Will viewers be connected to high-speed networks that can stream even high-def video effortlessly, or will most of the clientele be located on broadband connections?  Is adaptive streaming important?
  • Will support for IOS devices - which do not tend to do well with Flash-based video players - be important?
  • Can people comment on videos?  Share them?  Clip them?  Share the clips?
I have a requirement from one of our partners to build enough capacity to stream a pair of videos - these are classroom observations and each includes a blackboard video and a classroom video - for up to 1000 simultaneous viewers.  That's 2000 videos at a bit-rate (roughly) of 800Kb/s.  So maybe about 1.6Gb/s of total bandwidth required at peak.

And I have the same requirement from one of our other partners who is serving a separate audience.  So that is a total of 3.2Gb/s.  That is a big pipe by ICPSR standards.  (Our entire building that we share with others has only a single Gb/s connection to the U-M campus network.)

If we try to build this ourselves we need a pretty big machine with lots of fast disk (20TB+) and lots of memory and lots of network bandwidth. And if we build it too small, the service will be awful, and if we build it too big, we will waste a lot of money and time.

So a cloud solution that can scale up and down easily is looking pretty good as an Access platform.

Next post:  Why Kaltura?

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