Using Windows Azure Media Services

Following the release of Windows Azure, Microsoft has rolled-out Windows Azure Media Services. This is a software platform designed to make it easier for developers to make use the most of Azure. This focuses on video streaming, but also aids encoding, data protection and analytical processing. This is known as Platform as a Service (PAAS).

The potential to revolutionise video streaming

Currently, video must be uploaded and stored in formats compatible with those used by the device on which playback will take place. Whereas by using Windows Azure to upload the video, it can be played back in any suitable format, thanks to the processing afforded by Media Services. Not only playable in any suitable format, but also on any media device.

This excellent development is much needed since the explosion in production of tablet devices, each with their manufacturer’s own operating systems, software and formatting. Video has become technology-agnostic.

Encoding, encryption, and everything else

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Media Services also offers greater protection to users, ensuring that data – especially video data – reaches the destination device in good order, uncorrupted and ready to play. Any video file type can be protected.

Encoding within Media Services is comprehensive, with support being offered for a wide range of format-types. In the Cloud storage available with a Windows Azure account, users can allow customers to access data in their preferred format, without having to manually convert the files.

Media Services’ Ingest feature is the means by which data is brought into the Cloud, the gateway to the streaming, encoding and protection afforded through Media Services. This component encrypts the files as it uploads them, and will be improved in the near future, the plan being to offer greater integration with partner components to offer faster UDP (User Datagram Protocol) upload capabilities.

The benefits for developers

Windows Azure Media Services will be a huge boon to developers; enabling them to work more quickly, have access to the impressive computer processing power of the Cloud and allow their applications and programs to be freely used by devices with differing operating systems.

The PAAS service makes it easier for a developer to go from the drawing board to completed product, essentially removing many steps from the development process. REST APIs (the code that ‘tells’ the app or program how to behave) reduce the need for multiple formats to be used.

Working in Windows Azure, developers are no longer reliant on their own computer processing power. Instead, they have access to the might of multiple servers which allow rapid processing functions to occur. Without this sort of access, developers might only be able to create one application in their lifetimes, not a realistic way to either make a living or grow technology!

Another benefit of using Media Services is the ability to integrate advertising into apps, either linear or overlay to maximise exposure, growth and profit.

Multi-platform multimedia

Until fairly recently it was difficult for users of different operating systems to access games, applications and even programs on different devices without extensive amounts of code being rewritten. Windows Azure Media Services will change all this, enabling a developer to work entirely within the Windows Azure operating system, keeping his or her work secure and safe before releasing it in all formats simultaneously. That is to say, the developer will release it, and as the download occurs, the format needed will be recognised and applied, requiring no extra work on behalf of the developer.

In short, Windows Azure Media Services simplifies work processes, allows developers to create applications faster by not only removing steps, but by speeding up those processes that are needed, and then gives the developer access to all possible formats, from games consoles to tablets and smartphones: each and any of the many devices that are connected to the Internet.

Windows Azure Media Services is perfectly poised to fill a need created by the ever-growing technological demands of the world’s population. Media Services allows files and data to be uploaded to the Cloud for secure, off-site storage; and allows for easy encoding and protection of those files, while not restricting necessary access at all.
Developers, pioneers of a rapidly growing market, have been waiting for something like Media Services to come along, a vast cyber ‘workshop’ where they can use superb tools and software to quickly and efficiently produce their creations.

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