Microsoft Azure cloud for media opens up to the public

Microsoft Azure cloud for media opens up to the public

Summary: Microsoft opens its video streaming cloud, starting at $1.99 per gigabyte for encoding.

TOPICS: Cloud, Microsoft

Microsoft has announced the general availability release of Windows Azure Media Services, the platform-as-a-service cloud that some broadcasters had used to stream London Olympics coverage.

Microsoft is hoping to attract the next big on-demand video outfits--Hulu or Netflix's successors--with the service, in addition to enterprise customers, network operators, broadcasters, ISVs, and system integrators.

Microsoft Developer Division Corporate Vice President Scott Guthrie announced the general availability on his blog, pointing to a new media services developer centre and enterprise SLAs put in place for the launch.

The service can stream video to HMTL5, Flash, Siverlight, Windows 8, iPad, iPhone, Android, Xbox, Windows Phone, and embedded devices for IPTV and Connected TV. Microsoft is also providing SDKs for developers to build custom video clients for their applications, which allows developers to customise playback.

The service will also come with the features that broadcasters used during the London Olympics: the ability to arrange live and on-demand content into logical workflows via Channels, and to ingest live video feeds, which are compressed and passed back to broadcasters to then publish to the Azure platform.

Microsoft is also offering customers a number of tools to help upload raw video, encode and protect it with DRM, and deliver it to different devices.

Developers can use REST APIs or .NET and Java SDKs to control these workflows on Azure Media Services, said Guthrie. DRM technologies that it supports include Microsoft PlayReady and Apple AES content protection formats.

At launch last April, Microsoft also pointed to a number of third party solutions that would form its base platform, including high-speed transfer services from Aspera; content encoding from Digital Rapids, ATEME, and Dolby; content protection from BuyDRM and Civolution; and video-on-demand streaming from Wowza Media Services.

Answering price questions on the blog, Guthrie said that encoding starts at a flat rate of $1.99/GB, discounted for larger volumes. There is no extra cost for virtual machines or compute power if encoding one job at a time, making it suited to small jobs, however, for high capacity jobs, encoding in parallel or with an SLA on time will incur extra costs.

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Creating a MS entertainment industry through an artist network service

    What would be fantastic, is if MS created a 'network package' service for independent artists, who would be able to use the package to form businesses and produce content, based primarily around a subscription service. Therefore 1 or more musicians could come together, and use the network service to produce and output live and ondemand shows through Xbox Live; stream radio stations; stream special live video/audio performances; develop new, original, interactive experiences, games, etc. to their subscribers. So, instead of musicians' livelihoods being centered around live performances in clubs, etc. where they barely make any money, or around records, where being successful in this effort is about as likely as winning the lottery, musicians become focused on the networks they create, and getting their fans to subscribe to them. Producing content around cover songs could be staple of their operations, then they could branch out into original content increasingly. I believe if MS does the above, it could build up a huge music industry on top of its services.

    The above 'network package' service could be adopted to comedians, makers of traditional TV shows, the theater industry, etc. E.g. a theater group could use the service to significantly expand its audience beyond people who can fit into a movie theater - similar to the way football expands it audience beyond those who attend a game at a stadium. So again, 'network package' services could be a way for MS to build a huge entertainment industry on top of its cloud services.
    P. Douglas
    • Sounds like a pitch...

      you should make yourself to Microsoft. It's an excellent idea.
  • Microsoft Azure cloud for media opens up to the public

    do you know what i am going to say HELL shut down all of the cloud services you do not need to put our info in the cloud it is some one else computer it is not one but a lot of other computers it is called services but now they are calling it the cloud so i will say NO