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Khaleesi, Dothraki, Panopto, Kaltura!

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Khaleesi, Dothraki, Panopto, Kaltura!

By: -
19 May 2016

No matter where you rank in the streaming media food chain, somebody is always gunning for you.  Yesterday, it was Kaltura launching VPaas – a video platform-as-a-service – taking aim at the likes of Microsoft and IBM in an emerging battle to create developer-friendly environments that foster the creation and distribution of a fresh breed of streaming solutions.

Today, it’s Kaltura’s turn to feel the heat as streaming platform vendor Panopto announces a program that takes off the gloves, launching a migration program that uses a video content conversion tool and professional services for existing Kaltura customers willing to make the leap to using the Panopto platform. The cut-throat nature of the streaming market this week is like watching an episode of Game of Thrones. Tread carefully, someone may be looking to slit your throat or like the Khaleesi, burn down the Temple!

The details: we’ve seen Panopto go after legacy Mediacore and Tegrity customers in the past year or so, after it saw openings (Mediacore’s acquisition by Workday and Tegrity dissolving into a pool of quivering nothingness after its acquisition by McGraw-Hill).  In these situations, Panopto typically creates custom code and provides support services for a certain amount of content conversion (source video along with metadata such as titles / descriptions / tags / categories, permissions information when available, etc.).  Those “professional migration services” are on-the-ground system engineers who perform the migration for the client, confirm successful export / import of metadata, and do some manual provisioning of these users into the Panopto system. Then Panopto may charge for additional hours of video when you are talking about thousands of hours of recorded sessions.  Once converted, recordings are indexed for search by Panopto’s Smart Search tech and encoded for playback on any device – with the ability for customers to use Panopto’s video content management tools.

Why go after Kaltura with this same type of conversion program?  Well, Panopto tells us it was hearing from a lot of educational customers that they found Kaltura’s lecture capture platform deficient in a variety of ways.  Exhibit A is the University of Pittsburgh’s blogpost last August, Say Goodbye to Kaltura (who must be feeling in the Pitts over this).  Among the reasons Pitt wanted a change: 1) Kaltura updates would leave previously posted videos unplayable and break links to Blackboard Learn; 2) issues with the Flash plug-in necessary to play Kaltura videos; 3) Blackboard Learn integration was reportedly clunky and challenging to the Pitt profs – there were some serious complaints from the end user community; 4) product functionality; and 5) price tag for Kaltura hosting 13,000 media files.  Those five reasons were enough for Panopto to see a competitive vulnerability and target that vulnerability.  Whether or not you agree with Pitt’s reasoning, this move does illustrate that the “game” is on in the educational streaming and lecture capture space.

In this ongoing battle, one of Kaltura’s traditional strengths – the openness of its platform – may turn into an Achilles Heel of sorts.  We wrote about OpenCast and the merits of open source lecture capture software earlier this year.  Well, because it is an open source platform, assume there is a lot of Kaltura documentation, and that Panopto was able to leverage that “openness” while reusing some of the code it already had created for the Mediacore and Tegrity migration programs. 

These two companies, Kaltura and Panopto, are “neck-and-neck” in my mind in the lecture capture space.  You can expect to see Panopto continue its aggressiveness not just with Kaltura but perhaps some other legacy lecture capture vendors.  As a lecture capture solution, Kaltura CaptureSpace has been iffy at best, a kluge that never seems to get the attention it needs to be super competitive with the other serious players because it is one small element of Kaltura's much bigger toolset. Now for Panopto, it appears to not take much effort to whittle another arrow for the quiver: toss in a bit of code, mix with some witch’s brew and tail of newt, and bingo: another target in the seven kingdoms.  It’s getting hot in lecture capture land.  Maybe I should have called this blogpost Special Lecture Capture Game of Thrones Edition.