<quote>It's possible that this problem has already been solved elsewhere, but I'm not aware of that being the case. And that's important - given the way that the Beeb's iPlayer project was what led the way to the UK's TV channels providing streaming access, we shouldn't just assume that any big BBC project is a guaranteed waste of time and money.</quote>
Possible, but unlikely.
Lets be honest here.. The Beeb decision makers wanted a real time broadcast quality HD video editing and archive solution for all it's offices, no matter how far away. And all it's computers. That is a huge project...
Not just a digital archive, which is in it's self a pretty ambitious project.
Not just networking all the edit suites.. But desktops too. And no doubt, some tit wanted to be able to edit nature documentaries on his iPad from home too.
Classic case of letting management look at shiny brochures.
Things like this are too big to work.
Step 1, Archives.. Get em working. And extensible. Then at least the data and storage is there. No special file formats. No special single source hardware. Assume each supplier is going to be out of business 20 minutes after the project finishes, and the system needs to be doubled in capacity the day after.
Q1. Can we get this hardware from anywhere? No? Cancel project.
Q2. Do we haver full ownership of all source code, so we can maintain this system for the next 50 years, and shop around for maintenance contracts? No.. Cancel project.
This is not some new cutting edge experimental system, this is infrastructure. If it can't scale, it can't be used.
Step 2. Edit suites only, to at least manage the load until it can be built out.
Step 3. Careful review with users of the system given a significant amount of time to use and evaluate. BEFORE expansion globally.
And yes.. the BBC iPlayer is great..
But it is not what it started out as.
As I remember, it was a downloaded media player/DRM manager that specifically needed Windows XP and a particular version of MS media player, which torrented all the time unless you exited the program and went into the process manager and killed the still running torrent program.
Update media player.. Bye bye iPlayer.
Use Windows Vista.. No iPlayer.
And other platforms would eventually be supported.. <snicker>
Great eh? Keep your PC tied to an old version of Windows and an old version of Media player, max out your upload traffic, and don't allow automatic updates..
And then..The most efficient approach.. Write a totally new totally different application for each platform. Ideally, requiring a different file at the server end.
Common unified platform independent solutions.. Pah.. Not nearly WEB 2.0 enough..
The iPlayer we have today, is one that was born from pressure exerted from outside. Not a BBC management decision, but a BBC management concession to some open source activists, who demanded the BBC implement a solution that was platform indifferent as possible. And the oversight committee said they had to.
Result.. A nearly useless application on one OS version that hardly anybody bothered with. Followed by a runaway success that is the website streaming solution using systems that pretty much any rationally specified kit can use.
Followed by iPlayer clients being available for just about any hand held device with the oomph to use the same streamed media.
So it was done platform independent, and DONE RIGHT..
I can watch Doctor Who in HD on my Linux box if I want. I can also watch it on my tablet, or my TV, even on my PDA... And Windows users get the same options. Even Apple users can use it..
Not as good as only being possible with one Windows OS version and one Media player version I know.. But this is what happens when you slap management.
The resulting system we have today, is fantastic. But it is so because the BBC were forced to dispense with the impractical mess that they bought in.
Not because they had a great idea, and hired people who designed a fantastic system to implement the idea. But because they had a genuinely good base idea, and after a few slaps in the back of the head, they produced something worthwhile.
In internal projects like this, who administers the slaps in the back of the head?