By: Fereidoon Khosravi
We have achieved something that has been near and dear to my heart for a couple of years, as it relates to our Cloud-based QC capabilities. And that is how we extended the capability of our Quasar native-cloud QC service to the level that I don’t believe anyone else has actually reached! And we call it “Quasar Leap”.
When we started the development work on Quasar®, our native cloud QC service, the goal was clear. We didn’t want to just take our popular on-premise QC software, Pulsar™, run it on a VM and call it “cloud” QC. We made the deliberate decision that while we would use the same core QC capabilities of Pulsar, we would build Quasar architecture from grounds up, to be a ‘native’ cloud QC service. And we did accomplish that by being the first cloud-based QC to legitimately call ourselves ‘native’ cloud. And the phrase ‘native’ cloud meant capabilities like microservices architecture, dynamic scalability, regional content awareness, SaaS deployment, usage-based pricing, high grade content security, and of course redundancy.
But we wanted to go even further. And that was when the project we code named ‘Quasar Leap’ came about. To borrow and paraphrase from one of my all time favorite TV shows, Star Trek, we wanted to “take Quasar to where no cloud-QC had gone before”! (Those of you who are Star Trek fans know what I am talking about!).
Quasar was already able to process 100s of files at the time, but the goal of ‘Quasar Leap’ was to show that Quasar can process ONE THOUSAND files simultaneously! Of course, anyone can claim that their solution is robust, scalable, reliable, etc, but we set out to actually do it and then record it to prove that we did it!
This was not a marketing ploy, although to be honest, I knew there would be great appreciation and name recognition telling our customers and prospects that we can QC 1,000 files simultaneously. But there was a practical and quite useful benefit of doing so. After Quasar’s initial release, we found out when we started to push the boundaries of how many files Quasar could process simultaneously, there were some practical limitations to our architecture, even though we were already way ahead of our competition. And while we could easily process a few hundred files at the same time (more than any of our customers had needed), when we tried to push beyond that, the process could break down, and impact the reliability of the overall service.
So because of project ‘Quasar Leap’, our engineering team took a very close look at various components of our architecture. And while I am obviously not going to give away our secret sauce (!), suffice to say, they further enhanced and tweaked various aspects of our internal workflow to remove any bottlenecks and stress points, to make Quasar massively and dynamically scalable!
And then we decided instead of just ‘saying’ that we have the most scalable native-cloud QC solution, we would ‘actually do’ it and record it!! And I can now tell you confidently and based on the recorded video that we have actually done that! That, we actually submitted 1000 30-minute media files, watched our Quasar system dynamically spin up 1000 AWS virtual computing units (called EC2s in their terminology), and process (QC) those 1000 files simultaneously, and then spin down those EC2 instances once they were no longer needed.
So while we recorded the event, 30,000 minutes (500 hours!) of content was processed in less than 3 hours which even included the time of spinning up of the EC2 instances! To put things in perspective, 500 hours of content, equivalent of approximately 330 movies, or 10 seasons of 7 different popular TV Sitcoms, was processed just shy of 3 hours! To say it differently, with our massive simultaneous processing capability, approximately 160 hours of content can be processed in one hour!
If you say to yourself “that is great, but who has that much content that they need to process them that quickly”, I have an answer! Actually a three-point answer:
- You will be surprised how many media companies have PETA bytes (that is with a “P”!) of content sitting in cloud storage! They face the daunting task of managing a cloud-based workflow to monetize that archived content by restoring, ingesting, transcoding, and ultimately delivering that content to audiences. And one step that is naturally important in this workflow is ensuring that all of that content goes through content validation at various stages before delivery to the end user. And that is where this massive simultaneous QC processing ability of Quasar will be much needed to minimize delays in this effort.
- Some of our customers get content in bursts with strict delivery timelines. Ability to process that burst of content immediately offers significant business value in addition to workflow efficiency.
- And let’s not forget the main gain from the ‘Quasar Leap’ project, which was the behind the scene tweaking, in some cases revamping, and enhancing of our underlying architecture. And that has resulted in a solid platform, which will benefit ALL of our Quasar SaaS users, whether they have 100,000 files or 100 files, or even a few files! It ensures reliability, scalability and confidence in that they can rely on Quasar to meet their QC needs regardless of their normal volume or any sudden increases (bursts) in their content flow due to an unexpected event or last minute request.
All that effort for ‘Quasar Leap’ by our talented and dedicated development team, conducted during the challenging time of the pandemic, is finally complete! The new release of Quasar with all the architectural changes resulting from the ‘Quasar Leap’ project has rolled out.
According to Tony Huidor, SVP, Products & Technology at Cinedigm, a premier independent content distributor, a great customer of ours, and an early benefactor of ‘Quasar Leap’: “Given the rapidly growing volume of content that uses our cloud-based platform, we needed the ability to expand the number of files we need to process in a moment’s notice. Quasar’s massive concurrent QC processing capability gives us the scalability we required and effectively meets our needs.”
And now ‘Quasar Leap’, giving us the ability to massively scale up our simultaneous processing capability, is ‘live’, and “our Quasar native-cloud QC has gone where no other cloud-QC has gone before”!
And as Mr. Spock would say: “Live Long & Prosper”!