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SPC12: Windows Azure Media Services

What are the media services?  Basically it’s a quick and easy way to provide video management and distribution.  It’s cloud based and therefore fairly easy to provision additional services.

  • Built on Windows Azure
  • Includes live services and media services
  • All services are available via the API

The media service gives you all the machinery to ingest media, encode the media, schedule jobs on it, etc.  They even have third party plugins that can get right in the media processing pipeline.  That includes audio feed or metadata services.
In addition, you can do live encoding, stream live events like pay per view, do the analytics on who is consuming the content.
Where is it available?

  • Two in North America on each coast
  • Two in Europe
  • One in China region
  • One elsewhere in the South Pacific

He showed a demo running out of Amsterdam data center.

  • The first view was of a bunch of ‘Assets’.  These include video, audio, xml, and other content.
  • Templates are a bunch of tasks applied to content times.  It might be a single encode or multiple encodes applied to that data.  The Olympic games used a rough cut editing tool to create clips, combine them and upload them to YouTube.  It sounds more like workflow.
  • Jobs: a combination of an Asset with a template applied to kick off a live workflow
  • All of the tools are available as REST API’s so you have a lot of flexibility to change things are you desire or as a partner desires to add value to the video platform

Build On
This is different from Build in the Azure platform.  Rather, you can create and deploy on your own premise and consume the media service’s API remotely.  Partners include companies like Aspera, Digital Rapids, BuyDRM (for content protection), Akamai, Origin Digital, etc.
Devices and clients
Roku, Samsung, Sony, Broadcom, MStar, etc.  From here you can push content to a variety of consumption devices.
Very soon but not quite yet. Here’s the GA release scope

  • On demand
  • Ingest via secure http and fast udp
  • Encoding
  • Packaging the content
  • Encryption with PlayREady
  • Origin
  • Caching via Azure CDN or someone like Akamai
  • all available via a simple REST api.

Demo: He showed him taking a video, using the platform to upload the 5 second video, and then kicking off encode and other workflows.  The platform shows you what activites are in process and automatically updates the UI when complete.  He then came back and showed the encoded video.
What about the API?
It supports OData 3.0 with use of standard verbs.  You can call it from both .NET and Java.  From it you can do any of the Ingest, Encode, Package, Encrypt, Deliver and Target actions.  Of course each part of the video lifecycle has a number of api’s associated.
You can stream encoded content from the Azure Video platform. It’s highly available and gives you guaranteed bandwidth.  Azure even provides a CDN if you want to push it to close to the last  mile.
London 2012 Games
It was delivered to 30 countries with over 100 channels of content.  It speaks well of ability to scale.  The channels are important to ensure correct sizing and to give guarantees of process time and streaming capability.  It takes about 20 minutes to set the channel and to “drop” the required hardware on Azure.  They obviously take advantage of the virtual nature of this.

  • 140 HD streams
  • Across 7 operational time zoned
  • Highly fault tolerant designd
  • 1500 VM > 5,000 cores were allocated
  • 30+ channels were simultaneously running
  • All storage was replicated within each DC and to sibling DC’s
  • Supported Silverlight, Flash, iOS, WP7, Android, and XBox
  • Included a channel dashboard to do highlight reels
  • Did live results overlays
  • 4,000 hours of live streamed video
  • 18.5 petabytes of data delivered through Akamai
  • Deltatre was the production partner
  • Akamai provide CDN and analytics

Did this for 19 days of 16 hours a day of converge.  Nimbus (video platform) had 100% uptime. During this time, they had 22.5 million unique viewers and 67.5 video streams.
Clients of this Content
They encode to Silverlight, XBox, Windows Phone, Windows 8, iOS, and a couple other options. Smooth Dash seems to be a common ‘standard”  In other words, you shouldn’t be too constrained in getting the content on this platform out to your consumers.
Bottom Line: We watched him create and encode video. We watched the presenter create new channels and then live stream.  It’s really easy to embed the content.  This can provide a variety of options for anyone trying to do more than just embed video.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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