Streaming Media

Frank describes the hardware and software technology used on the server side of the streaming process.
Decoding and Viewing

These functions are performed on the client computer, but I will mention them briefly here in respect to how they could affect server-side systems. Because of the nature of standard Internet protocols, it should not be necessary to consider the client platform when deciding on the server system. Unfortunately, the power of an illegal monopoly can ignore open standards and force its own proprietary technology on the market. As the open-source movement grows, this type of control will be more difficult to sustain. If you plan to stream closed-proprietary data formats, then your choices on the server side are severely limited. You might want to weigh the future value of promoting a process that restricts competition before you make business decisions that force you down that road.

Conclusion

The need for streaming multimedia content over a LAN or WAN has created a huge market for every conceivable hardware or software niche that can be tailored to the specific needs of the multimedia business. A good resource for information on this industry comes from Streaming Media, Inc., who bill themselves as the “home of the streaming media industry”. A few weeks of exploration on industry offerings could save you countless hours and dollars down the road.

If you plan to use Linux, look carefully at the vendors to determine their stance on open source, open standards, licensing and their qualifications to offer the depth of support necessary to guide you through the chaotic hawking that you are about to experience from these vendors. Be wary of “multimedia appliances” that prepackage everything you need. Unless the package contains a full solution for all aspects of this problem, you could be setting yourself up to be spending a lot of money so, to use an old army expression, your data can “hurry up and wait” for the next link to your client.

Resources

Frank LaMonica holds a BSEE from the University of Texas in Austin and has been working in the computer graphics industry for over 18 years. His previous experience includes work with most computer operating environments, including UNIX, Linux and Windows/NT. Frank was CEO of Precision Insight (PI), the company that developed the 3-D Direct Rendering Interface (DRI), which is now part of XFree86 4.0 and has been instrumental in bringing open-source accelerated 3-D graphics to Linux. Frank now serves as the strategic director of MultiMedia for VA Linux since PI was acquired by that company in April of 2000. Besides promoting open-source multimedia, Frank continues to pursue his moonlighting career as a concert classical guitarist.

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