Enabling Video Transcoding in the Cloud with Aspera On Demand

Moving large video files in and out of the Amazon Web Services cloud


Zencoder offers a cloud-based software-as-a-service video transcoding solution. Using a simple API, content providers can transfer and transcode video utilizing the power of the cloud. With industry-leading performance, Zencoder processes video for a broad range of customers, including online video startups and major broadcasters like PBS. Content providers turn to Zencoder to transcode video for distribution to a broad range of Internet connected devices, including tablets, mobile phones, and browser-based experiences. Built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, Zencoder’s solution provides massive scalability and achieves maximum efficiency by transcoding outputs in parallel.

Using traditional TCP-based transfer protocols, such as HTTP and FTP, to move large video files into the cloud presented a problem due to the inherent bottlenecks in the TCP protocol, making big data transfers slow, inefficient and unreliable. With TCP, Zencoder experienced speeds as low as 21.8 Mbps over a 1 Gbps network - a 2% bandwidth utilization rate that that resulted in a 10-hour transfer time for one hour of DNxHD high-definition content. Zencoder needed a high-speed transfer solution that could handle the large file sizes while also meeting the security and reliability demands of its customers.

“We can encode high-definition videos faster than real time and standard-definition video 5x to 10x faster than real time,” said Jon Dahl, CEO and co-founder of Zencoder. “But all of that is meaningless if the transfer takes forever. So being able to provide fast transfer is a big deal for us.”

Zencoder selected Aspera to power its transfers, citing their customers’ desire to use Aspera software as a major swaying point. “It enables customers to more seamlessly use our system,” said Dahl. Existing Aspera customers connect to Zencoder’s cloud service using their Aspera software. For customers without their own Aspera clients or servers, Zencoder integrated the Aspera Embedded Client into its own client software.

“We want to make cloud-based transcoding a practical solution for large content providers, and by supporting Aspera’s high-speed file transfer technology, we’re reducing the pain around moving high-bitrate content over the wide area network,” said Dahl. “Content providers with multi-gigabyte video, such as broadcasters and movie studios, can now harness the speed and scalability of transcoding video in the cloud with Zencoder.”


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“We’re seeing upwards of 500 megabits per second of throughput up to the cloud, which is an incredible improvement above just standard FTP or HTTP.” John Riske, Director of Business Development and Marketing