Windows Azure Media Services Announced at NAB 2012; Published a New Broadcast Reference Architecture

At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 2012 conference, Microsoft announced new cloud-based "Windows Azure Media Services," which is designed to make creating, managing and delivering media to any device easier than ever by offering a comprehensive set of ready-to-use first- and third-party media technologies.Using Windows Azure Media Services you'll now be able to quickly […]

At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 2012 conference, Microsoft announced new cloud-based "Windows Azure Media Services," which is designed to make creating, managing and delivering media to any device easier than ever by offering a comprehensive set of ready-to-use first- and third-party media technologies.

Using Windows Azure Media Services you'll now be able to quickly standup and automate media cloud solutions of your own that are capable of delivering amazing solutions to an equal sized audience.

"Windows Azure Media Services is a cloud-based PaaS solution that enables you to efficiently build and deliver media solutions to customers. It offers a bunch of ready-to-use services that enable the fast ingestion, encoding, format-conversion, storage, content protection, and streaming (both live and on-demand) of video. It also integrates and exposes services provided by industry leading partners - enabling an incredibly deep media stack of functionality that you can leverage," Microsoft explains.

Windows Azure Media Services

You can use Windows Azure Media Services to deliver solutions to any device or client - including HTML5, Silverlight, Flash, Windows 8, iPads, iPhones, Android, Xbox, and Windows Phone devices. Windows Azure Media Services supports a wide variety of streaming formats - including Smooth Streaming, HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), and Flash Media Streaming.

One of the unique aspects of Windows Azure Media Services is that all of its features are exposed using a consistent HTTP REST API. This is true both for the media services we've built, as well as the partner delivered media services that are enabled through it. This makes it incredibly easy to automate media workflows and integrate the combined set of services within your applications and media solutions. Like the rest of Windows Azure, you only pay for what you use with Windows Azure Media Services - making it a very cost effective way to deliver great solutions.

Capabilities and benefits of Media Services include:

  • "Ingest: Upload your media assets to Media Services storage using standard HTTP transfers or built-in third-party agents for faster UDP transfers with added security
  • Encoding: Work with a range of standard codecs and formats, including industry-leading Smooth Streaming, HTTP Live Streaming, MPEG-DASH and Flash. You can choose the Windows Azure Media Encoder or a built-in third-party encoder.
  • Format Conversion: Convert entire libraries or individual streams with total control over input and output.
  • Content Protection: Easily encrypt live or on-demand video and audio with standard MPEG Common Encryption and Microsoft PlayReady, the industry's most accepted DRM for premium content. Add watermarking to your media for an extra layer of protection.
  • On-Demand Streaming: Seamlessly deliver content via Windows Azure CDN or a third-party delivery network. Automatically scale to deliver high quality video experiences around the globe.
  • Live Streaming: Easily create and publish live streaming channels, encoding with Media Services or pushing from an external feed. Take advantage of built-in features like server-side DVR and instant replay," Microsoft informs.

Microsoft also published a new Broadcast Reference Architecture that offers prescriptive guidance on how media companies can architect their solutions to improve systems performance management as they move toward the cloud.

The Broadcast Reference Architecture white paper is available at here (pdf).

You can also visit windowsazure.com/media to learn more about the specific features it supports, and visit the windowsazure.com media dev center to learn more about how to develop against it. You can sign-up to try out the preview of Windows Azure Media Services by sending email to mediaservices@microsoft.com (along with details of the scenario you'd like to use it for).