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Avalon Media System v. 1.0

By: Todd Stabley

Some of you might have heard about DukeStream 2.0 –our longstanding search for a YouTube-like media publishing system, anchored in asset-level security and based on Duke NetIDs. When the DukeStream 2.0 project began a couple years ago, there weren’t any tools that had the requisite asset-level security, or who could implement a system such as this for Duke in a user-friendly and cost-effective way. The landscape is changing, however, and we are in discussions with a number of vendors who seem to be in a position to offer something that meets our core requirements.


Along they way we’ve also encountered products that may not be a great fit for DukeStream 2.0, but are nonetheless interesting. On the recommendation of Duke Libraries and CIT, we looked into Avalon Media System, currently in v. 1.0, and which we heard is being billed as a “Kaltura killer.” Avalon piqued our interest given that we are currently using Kaltura as a plugin for Sakai and are interested in new contenders in this space. Avalon bills itself as an “open source software system to enable academic libraries and archives to easily provide online access to their video and audio collections.” This would seem to place this tool in the Media Asset Management product niche, targeting libraries where “super users” manage media more than end users of enterprise systems who are simply looking to publish video (i.e., YouTube and Vimeo).

Based on our initial look, we identified the following issues that would be obstacles to our implementing Avalon for DukeStream 2.0 at present:

  • Workflows seem typical of MAM/ DAM systems and as such may be more complicated than we could offer to general users. For example, the interface for uploading and editing files has 6 separate pages you click through sequentially to edit things like metadata, title and description, and access control. We are looking for something more consolidated.

  • Opensource/ homegrown model makes it not a good fit for DukeStream at present because of constraints around development resources and our preference for buying rather than building for this scenario

  • It looks like authentication isn’t currently enabled for the embedded player (i.e., embedding into 3rd party web sites). For this, they are looking at secure token-based authentication for the media player as per (

  • No specific mention of Shibboleth integration for the wider system (but also no mention that it is excluded–merits further looking into)

  • Uses FFMPEG to transcode a wide range of input formats ( (WMV not listed, but actually worked in testing), but appears to only output to Flash. We are assuming the output is H.264/ .mp4 since fallback to HTML5 is listed as a player requirement as per

  • Only supports Adobe Flash Media Server and Red 5 streaming (support for Wowza not listed)

  • Current player in test environment looked to be underdeveloped (no embed code option); however, integration with Matterhorn Engage player is specified, and this player does support embed code. Likely a matter of some custom configuration. One user on the forum commented that video playback performance on the test site was slow and suspected the player to be at fault, though this has not been confirmed.

  • Current limit of 250MB for uploads in test site

  • Confusing to get to a “My Media” view where a user can see all of their media. This may be another indication that the product targets MAM superusers who are more technically able than the average user who wants to upload video.

Overall, we were impressed with Avalon and intend to follow the progress of this project as it evolves. However, given the issues listed above and the fact that other candidates seem closer to our requirements, Avalon isn’t a tool that could be considered for DukeStream 2.0 at this time.


Categories: DDMC Info

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