Azure Media Player v2.0, More Announced at NAB Show 2017

Azure Media Player 2.0, new pricing model based on per minute billing instead of GB's, along with reduced prcing and more announced at NAB.

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This year at NAB Show 2017, Microsoft is showcasing its Azure Cloud platform innovations and enhancements.

First up, Microsoft launched a new pricing model which is based on per minute billing instead of GB's, along with reduced prcing. "Customers can now use our service for content-adaptive encoding, where the encoder will generate a 'bit-rate ladder' that is optimized for each input video," wrties Microsoft Azure team.

Next up, autoscaling capacity, provides increased concurrency/throughput when needed. Combined with Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps, you can quickly build, test and deploy custom media workflows at scale.

DTS-HD surround sound now available in Premium Encoder for content creation and streaming delivery to connected devices.

Taking forward its Media analytics family, the company has announced some new capabilities. "media analytics include face and emotion detection, motion detection, video OCR, video summarization, content moderation and audio indexing."

Azure Media Video Annotator in Private Preview, identifies objects in the video such as cars, house etc. This information from Annotator can be used to build deep search applications, and can also be combined with data obtained from other Media Analytics processors to build custom workflows.

Azure Media Face Redactor also in Public Preview, enables customers to protect identities of people before releasing their private videos to public.

In order to simplify customers decision around configuring streaming origins, the following features are available now:

  • New Standard Streaming Units, that scales automatically based on outbound bandwidth alongside all of the Premium Streaming Units features is launched, too. "Premium Streaming Units (Endpoints) are suitable for advanced workloads, providing dedicated, scalable bandwidth capacity where as Standard streaming unit is operated in a shared pool while still delivering scalable bandwidth."
  • Common Media Application Format (CMAF) support provides for storing and delivering streaming content using a single encrypted, adaptable multimedia presentation to a wide range of devices.
  • DTS-HD surround sound streaming is now integrated with dynamic packager and streaming services across all protocols (HLS, DASH and Smooth).
  • FairPlay HLS offline playback using the Apple FairPlay DRM system.
  • RTMP ingest improvements for better integration with open source live encoders such as FFmpeg, OBS, Xsplit and more.
  • Serverless media workflows are now published on Github, to allow developers to get started building codeless and customized media workflows with Azure Functions and Logic Apps.

Microsoft released the advertising features in Azure Media Player for video on demand in general availability. This enables the insertion of pre, mid and post roll advertisements from any VAST compliant ad server, empowering content owners to monetize their streams.

AMP version 2.1.0 and higher supports "the insertion of pre- mid- and post- roll ads in all your on demand assets," the team says. The player inserts ads in accordance to the IAB's VAST standard and allows you to configure options like ad position and skipabilty.

Also, a preview of Live ad insertion, along with a new player skin with enhanced accessibility features are launched as well.

Azure CDN adds new capabilities including custom domain SSL and "One click" integration of CDN with streaming origin, storage & web apps.

Custom Domain SSL support enhances security of data in transit. Now, with custom domain HTTPS, you can enable secure delivery for custom domains (e.g. https://www.contoso.com) too.

"One click" CDN integration with Streaming Endpoint, Storage & Web Apps simplifies the configuration of CDN. When Content Delivery Network is enabled for a streaming endpoint, network transfer charges from Streaming Endpoint to the CDN are waived.

Azure Billing Reader role alonside preview of Invoice API announced on Tuesday. While, the new 'Billing Reader role,' allows delegating access to just billing information with no access to services such as VMs and storage accounts. Users in this role, "can perform Azure billing management operations such as viewing subscription scoped cost reporting data and downloading invoices."

Azure Billing Reader Role

The new billing API, let you programmatically download subscription's billing invoices, that contains personal information and hence the account administrator is required to enable access to allow users in subscription scoped roles to view invoices.

With this launch, account admins can allow users in "subscription scoped roles, Owner, Contributor, Reader, User Access Administrator, Billing Reader, Service Administrator and Co-Administrator," to view invoices.

Follow these steps to download the latest invoice for your subscription using Azure PowerShell:

  • Login using Login-AzureRmAccount
  • Set your subscription context using Set-AzureRmContext -SubscriptionId <subscription Id>
  • To get the URL of the latest invoice, execute Get-AzureRmBillingInvoice –Latest

Azure management libraries for Java generally available now

  • The general availability of the new simplified Azure management libraries for Java is announced today, for "Compute, Storage, SQL Database, Networking, Resource Manager, Key Vault, Redis, CDN and Batch services."

    Azure Management Libraries for Java, can be found at Github.

    Azure Information Protection unified administration now in Preview, and brings the Protection configuration (previously known this as Azure RMS templates) into the AIP configuration.

    The following UI based configuration options to protect content are added in this release: "anyone within your company (e.g. @contoso.com), anyone at another company (e.g. @fabrikam.com), a group of people at another company (e.g. finance@fabrikam.com)."

    Here is what does this mean:

    • "From an admin perspective, we have unified access to all configuration into a single location to define your classification taxonomy, labels and any specific actions including protection.
    • You can try out this new unified admin experience right now, just log into https://portal.azure.com
    • Until now, an admin had to first create RMS templates in the Azure classic portal, then go to the Azure portal to configure labels, and then link RMS templates to labels.
    • Moving forward, everything is now configured via the Azure portal. Protection becomes an optional setting of a label, just like visual marking or classification automation with conditions.
    • Based on your feedback, we have also removed the need for an admin to be a Global Admin! Security Admins can create labels and configure protection settings."

    The following services which are now available in the UK include: HDInsight, Azure Import/Export service, and Azure Container Registry.

    HDInsight, a 100% compatible Hadoop service allows provisioning and managing Hadoop clusters for big data processing in Azure.

    Azure Import/Export Service enables you to move large amounts of on-premises data into and out of your Azure Storage accounts. Customers can now use Azure Import/Export Service to copy data to and from Azure Storage by shipping hard disk drives to Azure UK South data center.

    Azure Container Registry, a private registry for hosting container images, let customers store Docker-formatted images for all types of container deployments. "Customers can now create one or more container registries in their Azure subscription. Each registry is backed by a standard Azure storage account in the same location."

    Microsoft at the last week's Data Amp online event, announced a private preview for a new database migration service. that streamline the process for migrating on-premises databases: SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL databases to Azure.

    "whether your target database is Azure SQL Database or Microsoft SQL Server in an Azure virtual machine."

    You can sign up for one or both previews at aka.ms/sqldatabase-migrationpreview.

    Database migration service for Azure

    Configuration Manager Client Messaging SDK version 5.1706.1034.1000, is now available as a package on NuGet.org.

    Some notable changes in this version as follows:

    • Improvements to the certificate hashing algorithm detection and usage.
    • Fix to the hash algorithm not being properly defined when sending client registration requests.
    • Updated the default ClientVersion value to match Configuration Manager current branch 1511 (5.0.8325.0000).
    • Changed the support status of ConfigMgrBgbMessageRequest, ConfigMgrBgbMessageReply, and HeartbeatDiscovery DataRecordFile from "PartiallySupported" to "Supported".

    "NuGet is a package management Visual Studio extension that enables you to browse and add libraries and their configuration to your development projects easily from the Solution Explorer in Visual Studio or a command-line interface."

    The general availability of Azure Analysis Services, which evolved from the proven analytics engine in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services—also added a new ability "to backup semantic models and all the data within them to a blob storage account." These backups can later be restored to same Azure Analysis Services server or to a different one.

    This method can also be used to backup models from SQL Server Analysis services and then restore them to Azure Analysis services.

    SSMS Improvements for Azure Analysis Services in the April 2017 release features additional capabilities for the DAX parser, which come in handy when authoring or fine-tuning queries in the DAX Query Window.

    Azure Analysis Services now also supports Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) based on Active Directory Universal Authentication.

    As far as the modern Get Data experience is concerned, you can now view, edit, and script out structured data sources, as the following screenshot illustrates.

    SSMS Improvements for Analysis Services

    This months release of Power BI Mobile apps feature are mainly focused on improving the quality of apps, making your experience smoother and faster.

    Features in this release include:

    • Background color for mobile reports. Just define a background color in Power BI Desktop, the phone layout will maintain the same color.
    • Power BI Mobile apps now support right-to-left languages in iOS.
    • Power BI Conversational BI with Q&A. You can now use iOS device microphone button to ask questions about your data, in your own words.
    • Build mobile-friendly custom visual. Developers can now create new visualizations to present data in different and exciting ways.

    A new powerful feature called 'quick measures' in Power BI Desktop, that helps create DAX measures based on templates for common patterns and expressions is launched.