Sorenson Media is a provider of video solutions, Sorenson Squeeze and Sorenson 360, which enable video professionals and businesses to easily and affordably publish the highest quality video over the Internet. 

In May 2009, Sorenson Media launched their newest solution, Sorenson 360, a SaaS-based video platform that bundles video encoding, transcoding, storage, content management, customizable video players, delivery, and real-time analytics all in one easy-to-use system. Less than six months after launch, the service was chosen as a finalist for Best Online Video Platform by Streaming Media Magazine 2009 Reader’s Choice Awards and has already been adopted by hundreds of customers worldwide.

Charles Sismondo, VP Engineering, shares the Sorenson story. “Our engineering team looked extensively at infrastructure and CDN solutions from a scalability, cost and API standpoint — and Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the clear choice for us.”

Today, the Sorenson 360 Video Delivery Network service is architected entirely on top of AWS—including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (AMazon S3), and Amazon CloudFront. Sismondo explains, “At the most simple level, when a customer uploads a video it hits our Amazon EC2 app servers, creating a database entry, sitting inside an Amazon S3 bucket and then pushed to the cloud for Cloudfront deployment and consumption. We’ve also added a service layer that includes UltraDNS, Scalr and Pingdom to facilitate optimum interaction, uptime and availability of these services.” See the workflow diagram below. 

Sorenson Media Architecture Diagram

Figure 1: Sorenson Workflow Diagram

The team is also excited about the recent release of the Amazon CloudFront streaming service. “We look forward to deploying streaming across the Sorenson 360 platform," Sismondo says. "We expect that it will become a very popular option for video delivery, especially among our educational customers, who need to offer secure, long-form video content that Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) Streaming provides.”

“Using AWS gives us tremendous flexibility and it has greatly reduced operations overhead, specifically our headcount has been dramatically reduced by a factor of at least 2 FTEs,” Sismondo says. “There are multiple benefits: we are able to shave months of planning and development time on all product-related builds, and customized Sorenson 360 Enterprise deal time-to-market is significantly diminished. We have close to 100 percent uptime, as we’ve been able to manage failover through AWS with no single point of failure. Amazon has taken the hardware purchasing pain out of our enterprise engagements – now we have near-instant scalability and surefire capacity planning. And last but not least, our pricing, built on AWS, has been far easier and more transparent (and more cost effective!) for our Sorenson 360 customers."

Sismondo shares some insight into working in the cloud, “Operating in a cloud environment is significantly different than operating on physical hardware. Data backups, redundant servers with easy failover, and auto-recovering system architecture needs to replace the traditional focus of network design, physical hardware redundancy, and troubleshooting when a specific machine is having odd problems.”

“In a cloud environment, you learn a whole new set of rules…machine failure equals “kill that machine (instance), and move on.” With AWS, there is no scarcity of physical hardware, which usually ties your hands when troubleshooting traditional services. Bottom line, your service is always job #1, while triaging problems associated with normal hardware operations is eliminated. Development, load testing and quality assurances are all far easier using AWS than alternatives.”

Sismondo concludes, “AWS has always been incredibly responsive and professional. It always seems like the moment we’re going to develop a new feature, AWS releases exactly what we need. It’s like having another team of extra engineers working on our shared infrastructure.”

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