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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Setting up Kaltura - part III

Some good news and some bad news today.

The good news is that I've tested XML Ingest via the Drop Folder feature, and it seems to work very well.  I was able to upload two videos, add their extensive metadata, and get it working well after fixing a simple (but dumb) typo I made in the XML.  In terms of creating the right XML content, we are in great shape.

The bad news is that I've run into a couple of snags with the Kaltura Software as a Service (SaaS) offering.

The first is actually with the Drop Folder service.  The current solution we are using is where Kaltura hosts the Drop Folder and we use sftp with a password to transfer a bundle of content - Kaltura-customized Media RSS XML plus a pair of video files.  However, what we really need is a locally hosted Drop Folder (which costs less to operate) and a way for Kaltura to fetch the content.  So far Kaltura hasn't been able to make this work.  We had hoped that they could use an ssh key-pair (private at Kaltura and public installed in $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys) for access, but at this time, Kaltura does not support ssh keys.  So we are kind of stuck waiting for ssh key-pair support to appear, or we are stuck uploading content via sftp and typing passwords (i.e., a manual solution).  Ick.

The second issue is around counting bits.  Kaltura charges by the bit - storing them and streaming them.  That makes a lot of sense, and is actually fine by us.  However......  so far we are not seeing reports or analytics that report usage by the bit, only by the minute.

In a case where one has a single collection with a single delivery platform operated by a single administrative unit, this may work quite well.  The monthly bill from Kaltura goes to one place, and the analytics are very useful for reviewing what's getting played, how often, how much, etc.

But in a case where one has a single collection (like Measures of Effective Teaching) with multiple delivery platforms operated by multiple administrative units, this will prove problematic.  In this scenario we really need a bill that breaks out usage like this:

  • Bits stored for the month - XX GB
  • Bits streamed by delivery platform A - XX GB
  • Bits streamed by delivery platform B - XX GB
  • Bits streamed by delivery platform X - XX GB

Then the partners could carve up responsibility for the bill.  For example. maybe ICPSR pays for ALL of the storage and for the bits streamed by its delivery platform, the School of Education pay for the bits streamed by its delivery platform, and a future partner-to-be-named pays for the bits it streams.

We had hoped to start using Kaltura in September, but my sense is that the Drop Folder issue will push this back.  But the issue around counting is the big one, and I don't have a sense yet for whether this is easy to address or very difficult to address.

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