Before exploring what exactly Azure Media Services is and how you can benefit from it, let us first understand the importance of videos for businesses in this day and age. Gone are the days when video could just be recorded, edited, and uploaded for viewing. It is also outdated to think that organizations can only make use of videos for the purpose of marketing. Research has shown that videos are used in most departments, with 29% of videos being used for administrative messages, 27% for human resources, and 24% for leadership communication.
However, the increasing usage of video brings up the complicated process of efficiently managing these videos while reaping the maximum benefit from them. Video management is much more complex compared to other types of digital assets. If not effectively managed, your videos might not be optimized for quality playback. They might also be dispersed on various systems without a centralized way of being indexed for swift search and discovery. You also might not be able to ensure their accessibility and delivery worldwide alongside being viewable on all devices and browsers.
This is where Azure Media Services comes in. AMS has advanced workflows to make all this and much more possible for you.
What is Azure Media Services (AMS)?
Azure Media Services (AMS) is a cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service that enables broadcast-quality live or on-demand video streaming. It offers advanced media workflows to enable scalable video encoding, transcoding, streaming, indexing, extraction of insights and content protection. The cloud-based infrastructure allows for swift scaling of resources as and when the need arises. In addition, AMS overall ensures that your videos are viewable anywhere on all major browsers and devices.
Types of Services in AMS
Azure Media Services has a variety of workflows that can help you achieve a lot with your videos. On the face of it, they can seem intimidating and hard to understand. Let us break it down for you based on the types of services provided by AMS:
AMS supports studio-grade encoding under which your video can be converted from one standard format to another standard format. This has two benefits:
- The video can be compressed down to have a smaller file size
- The new format might be supported on a much greater number of devices and platforms
The entire process is highly secure and allows for scalable batch processing to encode multiple files at once.
AMS supports both progressive download and adaptive bitrate streaming for your video delivery to the streaming end. Under progressive download, your source video is encoded into a single MP4 file. While under adaptive bitrate streaming, your source video file is encoded as a set of adaptive bitrate files. This is done to take advantage of dynamic packaging.
Once your mezzanine video file is encoded into a set of multiple bitrates (MP4 container format), AMS Dynamic Packaging can be utilized to deliver your videos to the viewers for playback through the help of widely supported streaming protocols of your choice (HLS, MPEG-DASH and Smooth Streaming). HLS is a streaming protocol supported by both iOS and Android devices and hence is utilized the most. Whereas, MPEG-DASH and Smooth Streaming are supported only on Android devices. Adaptive bitrate streaming is intelligently done just-in-time once a request is made on the video player based on the viewers' bandwidth conditions to avoid problems like buffering.
However, setting this whole thing requires high technological expertise. To make these encoded formats available for streaming, a Streaming Locator must be created, and streaming URLs must be built. Therefore, most businesses prefer to save up on their time and resources by opting out of combining all the workflows themselves to make this video streaming possible.
These businesses can smartly opt for Microsoft Partners that have built applications upon the Azure Media Services Stack. VIDIZMO is one such partner that provides an enterprise video platform that offers a pre-packaged solution. This allows businesses to not worry about all the backend operations and just upload and stream their videos from Azure storage.
Azure Video Analyzer for Media
Azure Video Analyzer for Media, previously known as Azure Video Indexer, is available under AMS and also as a separate Azure service. You can use this service to extract visual insights using various Artificial Intelligence models. Here are some of the insights generated through this service:
- Automatic transcription
- Optical character recognition for indexing of on-screen text
- Automatic Speech Recognition for indexing of all spoken words
- Face detection and identification
- Sentiment Analysis
- Emotion recognition
- Brand and Label detection
- Keyword extraction
However, all this can only be optimally utilized when incorporated into a centralized enterprise video platform that has all your videos in one place. This will allow you to use these indexed keywords for the creation of auto-generated tags that can assist in swift search and automatic discovery of videos when needed.
AMS supports content protection for your videos in two ways:
AES Keys and DRM Licenses
All your videos can be dynamically encrypted to ensure that viewers access your videos in a secure environment. This is done through the provision of AES-128 or the Digital Right Management system (Microsoft PlayReady, Google Widevine, or Apple Fairplay).
Robust token authentication utilizes Security Token Service (STS) to ensure authorized backend resource access. This system is applied to both common encryption and AES.
VIDIZMO: Microsoft Gold Partner Enterprise Video Platform
VIDIZMO, recognized in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Video Content Management, is an efficient solution for streaming and managing live and on-demand videos in a secure and compliant environment. VIDIZMO can be flexibly deployed on-premise, in the cloud or as a hybrid solution. It is also available as SaaS and is present as a pre-packaged solution on the Azure Marketplace.
VIDIZMO is a Microsoft Gold Partner and has several packages built for deployment in the Azure Cloud that utilizes all the workflows mentioned above of Azure Media Services to provide a product that can help you centrally store, manage, search, analyze, and share your videos with restricted access. Here the three packages utilizing AMS:
- Shared Cloud (SaaS) in Azure Environment: VIDIZMO is available as a ready-to-deploy SaaS solution in VIDIZMO Cloud built-in Azure Environment. This is a suitable budget-friendly solution for small and medium businesses looking for a packaged solution without many customizations.
- VIDIZMO Application on Azure Marketplace: If you are in search for a pre-packaged enterprise video platform utilizing all the services of AMS, then the VIDIZMO application in the Azure Marketplace is perfect for your organization. Both Pay-As-You-Go and Bring-Your-Own-Cloud payment models are for further flexibility.
- Bring-Your-Own-Cloud: VIDIZMO can also be deployed in your own Azure Commercial Cloud or Azure Government Cloud. You can opt for it to be VIDIZMO-managed through the assistance of VIDIZMO's professional services team or have it be self-managed according to your organization's requirements. In this deployment option, much more customizations and configurations are available in terms of features, security, and various administrative policies.
Hence VIDIZMO is a well-suited solution for those wanting to benefit from Azure Media Services without going through the hassle of trial-and-error involved in putting together all the workflows for a process that efficiently works.