A dynamic conversation we seem to have every day with customers interested in our DLNA media server software concerns open source. There are a handful of well-known open source alternatives to Lynx’s Twonky DLNA media server product offerings, and customers want to know “Why Twonky?” when a seemingly good solution exists that may satisfy a need. However, before taking the plunge into open source for anything – from web platforms to operating systems to software – there are several important factors to consider – which will ultimately drive the success of your initiative. Let’s look at the most important factors to consider for DLNA.
Device Adaptation – typically with open source, we see little to no device adaptation. Consumers bring new networked devices into their homes all the time. It’s important to make sure your hub is not blamed if a consumer changes a device or adds devices to their network. This requires device adaptation: the software must know how to render on the fly and be able to anticipate the complexity of a heterogeneous environment, which is especially important to router or gateway manufacturers. Not all open source applications will do this. Twonky’s device adaptation technology can, and as customers are changing out technology, the intelligence built into the software (and hence the device) understands that adaptations are necessary as it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to deal with streaming and media access.
Speed – How long does it take to search and index the library? Depending on the size, it could take seconds, minutes, or even longer. Do you think people are willing to wait that long to access one piece of media? Have you ever been frustrated waiting for a file to be found, downloaded, buffered, and accessed? Open source often takes the “must find everything” approach and spends a considerable amount of time and system resource indexing and searching for everything – every photo, every video, every song – on every single device on the network. Then open source creates a table of contents for organizing and identifying media file locations. Low-end solutions will index every single time, slowly and painfully. Ideally, using a system like Twonky will enable users to search faster and more efficiently as we have perfected this process. Our system simply looks at changes. So instead of indexing the entire network library, it says “I know what has changed in the past three days so I don’t have to index this all again.” It does a quick update and consumers have instantaneous access.
Time – Rendering takes time. How fast do open source files render? In general, rendering takes a considerable amount more time to render than with Twonky. Users have little patience for this as well. Once a file is found, how long does it actually take for delivery? If the lag is noticeable, it’s not acceptable.
Security – You are shipping millions of devices, and with current events, potentially seeing an increase in demand. Are you confident that your investment is protected? We understand that open source may be cheap and functional, but with no support or maintenance plan behind the software, you rely on the community to be sure it’s robust and secure. That’s a huge gamble. And it’s not just device software that’s of concern: it’s the content itself. With open source DLNA servers, a major use case is the moving of copyrighted content from one device to another. How do you protect the premium content? One of the requirements of premium content is that you must prove that it can only be transferred according to the licensing and that not anyone can “grab” it in-transit. With open source, you leave this to chance. With Twonky, it ensures that a device not on this network that wants to grab content cannot do so. Twonky has the ability to recognize devices as being authorized. Twonky is fully vetted, tested, field-proven and intentionally designed. On the security side, there’s a base and a premium use case for Twonky, both included in one product. Whatever your needs (DRM, DTCP-IP, MS PlayReady etc.) they are addressed. This is where Twonky excels as it works on every platform that matters out of the box, no matter what the mobile or networked device.
In closing, we urge you to weigh the risks vs benefits of open source. If you choose an open source DLNA server, do you even know if it has been used in your particular region of the world? At Twonky, we do! With open source, do you know if it’s the same piece of code successfully distributed? We do! Tens of millions of devices have Twonky. Eight of the top 10 service providers in the world have used Twonky. What are you waiting for? Your DLNA server awaits