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Microsoft Stream Analysis: Where It Does & Does Not Work

By Rabeea Tahir

The enterprise video space is booming. According to MarketsMarkets, the enterprise video market is expected to grow from an estimated USD 16.34 Billion in 2017 to USD 40.84 Billion by 2022, i.e., a whopping CAGR of 20.1%.

Amidst this, Microsoft has relaunched its enterprise video service, this time as Microsoft Stream, which now replaces Microsoft Office 365 Video.

Launched almost a year after its preview, Stream offers a corporate YouTube-like video platform that allows people in organizations to upload, share, manage, and view videos from a centralized video platform.

Microsoft first entered the enterprise video market in 2015 with the launch of Office 365 video, which will now converge into Stream. Despite its promise, Stream currently only offers an intelligent and password-protected enterprise YouTube, without several basic functionalities provided by most industry-recognized enterprise video platforms.

With its current capabilities, Microsoft Stream is an enterprise YouTube that only provisions few business video use cases in a password-protected cloud video storage solution with limited streaming capabilities. However, for organizations that have grown out of rudimentary video use cases to the more advanced enterprise-grade video application and integration with line of business operations, Microsoft Stream is far from competing with enterprise video platforms such as VIDIZMO recognized in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Video Content Management.

For a thorough analysis of Microsoft Stream in comparison to other enterprise video platforms, we will closely examine what Stream offers and what it lacks, i.e., the features and functionalities that make the platform only suitable for basic enterprise video needs, but unfitting for larger organizations with more sophisticated enterprise video use cases.

What Microsoft Stream offers

Microsoft Stream, a Microsoft Azure Cloud solution, allows enterprise users to upload, manage and share videos within their organization. Users simply sign up using their business email (active directory integration), invite co-workers to join, and start uploading and sharing video content.

Stream provides the following product capabilities in a standalone product or as part of Microsoft Office 365 enterprise subscription:

Video upload and metadata editing: Stream's input of video file types is limited to formats supported by Azure Media Services. Users can upload video files individually or in bulk. Once uploaded, the file owner can make changes to file name/ title, add a description, choose a thumbnail, assign hashtags or upload caption files.

Video playback on internal sites: Once the videos are automatically transcoded for playback on all devices, users can watch the videos within the Stream portal, or embed them on other company sites. However, it must be noted that Stream does not support external stakeholder access and only allows authorized active directory users to access the videos, whether they are embedded on other organizational sites or played within Microsoft Stream.

Video sharing within the organization: Stream allows video owners to share and assign videos to one or multiple channels, a custom group of viewers, or make the videos private. The video files can only be shared within the company via a link, email or an embed code, which displays the content on other organizational platforms.

Organizing videos: Stream enables users to create channels to organize videos by topics or other categories. Channel creation and content contribution can be restricted to an authorized list of users. Videos can also be organized in mini-group portals, only available to authorized group members. Groups also contain channels for further categorization of content.

Intelligent video search: As part of an upgraded premium plan, Microsoft Stream features a range of intelligent features that improve content searchability within the portal. All videos are supported with speech to text transcription, which becomes searchable text that helps users jump to any spoken word in the video. Additionally, Stream offers face detection in a clickable timeline that shows every person who appears in the video. However, the quality of transcription and face detection varies depending on noise level and visual clarity such that it works well with a talking head video or quiet backgrounds, but the quality degrades with other video types.

What Microsoft Stream does not offer

All the aforementioned Stream functionalities make up key video streaming features that are available in most, if not all, enterprise video platforms. However, Microsoft Stream lacks a range of fundamental platform capabilities that are integral for most medium to large organizations employing video for critical business functions.

Over the years, many of Stream’s lacking capabilities have become a standard requirement for most enterprise video platforms in the market. In fact, Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Video Content Management ranks vendors in the enterprise video platform providers based on some of the very capabilities that are missing from Microsoft Stream.

VIDIZMO, recognized as a Challenger in Gartner Magic Quadrant for EVCM, contains all capabilities offered by Microsoft Stream in addition to the features it is missing and the ones on its product roadmap.

Following are 21 main video platform functionalities not available in Microsoft Stream:

  1. Live video streaming
    A fundamentally important feature missing from Microsoft Stream is the ability to broadcast live video, a capability businesses use for webcasting CEO broadcasts, corporate events, employee training sessions, town hall meetings, video presentations, and much more. As one of the most essential video uses cases for corporate communication professionals and events teams, the lack of live streaming capability could render Stream ineffectual, even for smaller organizations. VIDIZMO, on the other hand, not only provides a robust live video streaming solution but also extends the flexibility for customers to choose from VIDIZMO streaming server or any other streaming engine of their choice, including WOWZA, Azure Media Services (AMS), Limelight, Amazon Web Services (AWS), among others.

    Additionally, VIDIZMO supports all industry-standard streaming protocols for modern (HTTP) and progressive streaming for live and on-demand video – providing users the flexibility to meet custom requirement for video delivery and playback. VIDIZMO also supports specialized live video use cases such as a live chat with several options for admin/ speaker and audience engagement or sub-second live streaming for specialized streaming scenarios such as live drone video broadcasting. Even if Microsoft Stream develops a basic live streaming capability in the future, it will not be able to deliver the wide-ranging options, flexibility, and support that helps meet holistic customer requirements for various specialized business-critical live streaming use cases.
  1. Encoding profiles control and file format support
    With encoding profiles, video and media producers can exercise a significant degree of control over encoding quality and other settings such as choice of software or hardware encoders, which may be pertinent for different types of video use. VIDIZMO gives users complete and granular control over their encoding video output quality, support formats, codecs, etc. In the case of Microsoft Stream, however, users don’t have any control over encoding profiles as Stream only provides users pre-configured encoding and video distribution settings, solely handled by Microsoft Azure Media Services.

    Additionally, since Stream exclusively uses Azure Media Services for encoding, it only supports a limited number and types of file formats to convert from as compared to the vast range of file formats supported by VIDIZMO. Due to its support for Azure Media Services and encoding.com as well as flexibility of integration with any encoding software, VIDIZMO provides the widest range of support for video file formats and encoding flexibility.
  1. Support for CDN or third party eCDN/ SDN
    Typically, videos are streamed across content delivery networks (CDNs) such as Akamai, Azure, and Amazon Web Services or third-party eCDNs/ SDNs such as Hive or Kollective that enable video delivery to a geographically dispersed user base or to external users such as partners, customers or the to the public outside the corporate firewall. Currently, Microsoft Stream offers no support for Azure CDN or third party eCDNs, though it is on Stream’s roadmap. In addition, videos hosted in Stream can only be shared with internal co-workers, not external stakeholders.

    VIDIZMO, on the other hand, provides supports for all CDNs and third-party SDNs, while also provisioning VIDIZMO enterprise CDN (eCDN) for optimizing bandwidth and video delivery over enterprise networks. Because of this, VIDIZMO can be set up on a wide area network (WAN) with CDN and edge caching servers in the cloud, or a local area network with VIDIZMO eCDN and edge caching support on-premises for live an on-demand video streaming delivered to users in varying bandwidth conditions or in geographically dispersed locations.
  1. Storage limitations
    Microsoft Stream has certain quotas and limitations associated with some of its key features like video storage and video file size outlined here. Moreover, there are limits to the number of AD users that can be assigned to a video along with caps on group, channel and tenant size – all of which can be extremely limiting for medium to large organizations producing large volumes of video for distribution to a large user base. Moreover, firms in more regulated industries have data retention policies that require long-term content storage, which would become extremely problematic with Stream’s storage constraints. VIDIZMO imposes no such limits or quotas on its users as we provide an unlimited storage capacity for an infinitely scalable user base.
  1. External stakeholder access
    While used for a wide range of internal business operations, a video platform’s use is no longer limited to a company’s internal workforce. Organizations now increasingly need to give external access to partners, investors, third-party contributors and even customers, an option that is not available in Microsoft Stream since it only allows internal content viewing and sharing. However, video platforms like VIDIZMO can provide secure external stakeholder access to specific videos or dedicated portals for public access or viewing by specific third parties.

    For instance, VIDIZMO can share marketing videos on a company’s website and social media channels for viewing by customers, prospects, etc. by making them available for public viewing. Similarly, any CEO broadcasts could also be sent to investors, partners or other stakeholders by giving them external viewing access. Within external access too, VIDIZMO provides several options, ranging from YouTube-like public access to password-protected videos or a dedicated external portal access with third-party username and password credentials.
  1. Flexibility and choice of deployment models
    Even in the contemporary cloud-era, many organizations are not structurally or technologically ready to switch to an entirely cloud-based video strategy. Some companies opt to stay on-premises due to industry regulations and custom security requirements, while others prefer moving to a private cloud or hybrid cloud to leverage the value provided by a combination of cloud and on-premises architecture. Microsoft Stream, a cloud-based platform, does not offer deployment options on-premises, or in private or hybrid cloud. VIDIZMO, on the other hand, provides installation in public, private, and hybrid cloud as well as in a organization's on-premises infrastructure.
  1. Role-based access controls and platform permissions
    For enterprise applications, organizations require a great degree of control and security in terms of who can access what content, to what degree, etc. For video, it is important that the platform offer role-based access controls (RBAC) and access control list (ACL) customizations so that platform administrators can assign different roles to all members within the platform with varying access rights and permissions, customized as per organizational needs. VIDIZMO, for instance, provides specific roles for platform administrators, channel managers, contributors, moderators, viewers only – all of which is customizable to suit company needs and only allows a certain level of access to different users. Microsoft Stream does not support such platform roles, rights and permission access controls, instead it only offers broad restrictions on who can create a channel or contribute videos to it.
  1. User and content segregation
    VIDIZMO offers a multi-channel portal where platform administrators can create as many channels as they like for dedicated use across departments or use cases within an organization. Each department has complete user and content segregation, without any overlap between channels so all department-specific content is only accessible to the respective users.

    For instance, a marketing department portal is completely separate from an HR or finance portal. Similarly, a training and learning portal can operate in isolation or complete segregation from a corporate communication or marketing and sales video portal. Further, the channels can be divided into sub-categories to split subsets of users based on their role, time zone or any other variable. This way, VIDIZMO grants internal organizational units complete control, privacy, and independence to administer their channels as they deem fit. While Microsoft Stream offers the option to create mini groups portals, it does not offer completely segregated portals for different departments within an organization.
  1. Detailed analytics
    Video analytics are vital to determine the ROI of video communication, analyze viewing behavior, and generate detailed reports of who watched what videos, when and how much. For trainers, video analytics are fundamental to gauge how trainees are engaging with the video content, when viewers typically stopped watching the videos, as well as user-specific data like which employees watched the videos, for how long, etc.

    For corporate communication, business leaders need to assess how many people across the company attended the webcast, drop-off rates, etc. Additionally, the lack of analytics could also be an issue for networking teams who need analytics to monitor and resolve any quality of service (QoS) issues with the streamed video. While such insights are provisioned by most video platforms like VIDIZMO, Microsoft Stream currently only provides a simple count of how many times a video was watched and liked by viewers.
  1. Integration with existing line of business applications
    Microsoft Stream currently provides integration with Microsoft Office 365 tools such as SharePoint, Yammer, Teams, etc. (O365 integrations are also available in VIDIZMO) but it still lacks interoperability with other third-party software such as CMS like Jive, Drupal, etc., LMS such as Moodle and Blackboard, CRM solutions like Salesforce, or online meeting services such as WebEx, Go-To-Meeting, etc. Additionally, Stream will also need broader integrations with third-party encoding tools and content delivery networks to work seamlessly with existing line of business applications. VIDIZMO, on the other hand, provides integration with all line of business applications and IT systems, whose details can be found here.
  1. Video creation tool & bulk media upload
    Over the last few years, enterprise video platforms like VIDIZMO have integrated tools for video creation via screen video capture as part of the application. This is especially important for video training and presentations where sessions or lectures need to be delivered with the presenter’s talking head video alongside their screencast or screen capture video. Microsoft Stream currently does not include any video creation tool, which automatically lessens its value for basic corporate video functions for training and learning.
  1. Mobile application
    Smartphones being the most convenient way to access any application have greatly popularized the need for enterprise mobile applications. To increase and simplify video use across organizations, many business users prefer accessing their enterprise video platform through a mobile app, and directly record and upload video from there. VIDIZMO mobile application, for instance, allows both iPhone and Android users to capture, manage, view, and share all videos directly from their VIDIZMO mobile app. At the moment, Microsoft Stream does not have an iOS or Android mobile application to facilitate video use across the organization via mobile devices which may limit its viability, especially for millennial employees.
  1. Platform branding, UI and feature customization
    Most organizations today already use a large number of business and IT applications. The last thing employees want is yet another application with a new or non-familiar user interface. To resolve this, companies opt for white-labeled enterprise platforms like VIDIZMO that not only have the company’s branding, but are also come with the company’s domain name and other configurable platform settings. Not only does this prevent the platform from appearing as a separate disintegrated entity from the rest of the business applications, but it also improves and simplifies platform adoption across the company.

    While most enterprise video platforms come with customized branding and configuration options, Microsoft Stream only offers a standard, non-configurable interface without any corporate branding options. Additionally, Stream does not allow any types of configurations to platform features and functionalities, a flexibility most enterprise video platforms like VIDIZMO offers to facilitate custom organizational requirements.
  1. Video editing and auto-generated transcript editing
    Every video platform needs to have basic video editing functions to make recorded videos suitable for sharing or presentation to a wide set of audience. VIDIZMO, for instance, has in-built video editing features that allow users to trim videos, split them into clips, incorporate a title screen, or add a custom thumbnail, among other things. Microsoft Stream does not offer any of these essential video editing features except for the addition of a thumbnail. Additionally, VIDIZMO allows users with authorized access to edit automatically generated machine transcripts to attain greater accuracy of all video transcripts and closed captioning. Users can conveniently add or remove content from the transcripts directly from the transcription pane that runs alongside the video playback screen.
  1. Support for non-video media assets
    Video is a tremendously powerful media asset, but it is not the only one used by organizations today. Contemporary organizations use a wide range of rich media assets such as audios, images, PDFs, slides, infographics, SCORM content, etc. in combination with video for training, documentation-supported communication, marketing, and collaboration. Despite its name, video platforms like VIDIZMO support all types of video and non-video media so all of a company’s digital media could be collectively stored, managed, shared, and viewed through one consolidated platform. Without this provision, organizations will have to invest in a separate tool for managing their long and growing list of non-video assets – which would be the case with Microsoft Stream as it does not provide support for non-video digital assets.
  1. Video interactivity with playlists, quizzes, polls, surveys, etc.
    In most of its use cases, enterprise video is required to be an interactive medium that allows for more ‘active’ learning and participation, instead of passive viewing. Trainers, for instance, often include quizzes and completion certificates in employee onboarding or product/ course training videos to increase viewer attention, recall and content retention while also utilizing video as a medium for testing and tracking viewing completion. Moreover, trainers also need playlists to bundle a series of related videos into one course or program.

    The lack of video interactivity features renders Stream unsuitable for use cases such as education and organizational training and learning. Similarly, internal communication or even marketing videos often include polls and surveys to engage viewers and include their voice. Such interactive video features, fully supported by video platforms like VIDIZMO, are not available in Microsoft Stream.
  1. Bulk editing of video settings
    Video creators and editors typically make use of bulk editing of video settings to minimize time and efforts required to assign video settings, permissions, meta details, etc. VIDIZMO, for instance, allows bulk editing of all videos being added to the platform where a range of settings or changes are applied to all video with a single click, instead of doing it manually for individual videos, which is especially impractical in case of bulk media upload. Microsoft Stream, however, does not support bulk editing and, therefore, requires the users to go through each video’s settings individually.
  1. Content ingestion tool & broad integrations support
    Currently, Microsoft Stream does not have any content ingestion tool that allows for bulk upload or automatic upload of video files from watch folders, the way VIDIZMO does using its Publisher Tool. Stream only provides limited or partial support for integration with Skype for Business (on the roadmap) but still does not offer broader integrations with other live video sources such as WebEx or Go-To-Meeting or video conferencing tools like Cisco TelePresence or Polycom RealPresence. Video platforms like VIDIZMO, on the other hand, seamlessly integrates with such all such services and automatically captures live or on-demand videos and delivers them to any number of audience, and on any device, through the VIDIZMO portal.
  1. Content moderation, time-based archival, & data retention policies.
    Even though Microsoft Stream now employs some restrictions over who can create channels and upload content, it still lacks content moderation workflows for videos to go through a structured approval process before they’re made available for viewing, which prevents unfiltered videos from hitting the portal. Similarly, most enterprise platforms also come equipped with basic governance features such automatic video archival after a given date or data retention of video files over an extended time period – all of which Stream lacks.
  1. Developer APIs
    Organizations that wish to use APIs for customization or extension of Microsoft Stream’s platform capabilities cannot do so until Stream provides REST API support. The lack of APIs especially becomes problematic with regulated sectors like financial services, government, healthcare or any others that need more customized and configurable platforms.
  1. Audit logs
    In the case of sensitive or confidential videos, such as evidence video for law enforcement or insurance companies or any other private video files, it is important to have detailed audit logs that provides complete details regarding when a file was accessed, by whom, when, who it was shared with, etc. Such audit logs then help administrators maintain chain of custody requirements with a ‘digital trail’ for all electronic evidence. Video platforms like VIDIZMO fully provision audit logs, but Microsoft Stream currently lacks this capability./li>

Microsoft Stream Pricing

For non-Office 365 customers, Microsoft Stream’s current pricing plan is at $3-5 per user per month, which is significantly costlier compared to VIDIZMO’s enterprise video platform. With a higher price tag and a broad range of lacking capabilities, Stream cannot stand to compete in an already established market for advanced enterprise video solutions. In fact, even for Office 365 users, Microsoft Stream is not included in the Business Premium or Business Essentials plans, and for others it only offers varying levels of platform capabilities depending on plan subscriptions. What this means is that even Office 365 customers with certain plans will end up paying a higher price tag by purchasing more advanced plan they do not necessarily need.

Our Analysis: Where Microsoft Stream Stands

With its current capabilities, Microsoft Stream offers a foundational enterprise YouTube product that can be useful for smaller organizations with fewer video use cases and limited video storage and distribution needs. However, with its existing capabilities, it is highly unlikely that Stream will be able to handle even slightly more advanced, not to mention the continuously evolving sophisticated video use cases now being demanded by organizations across all industries. Additionally, Stream video is only available to an organization’s employees so it doesn’t serve other key business stakeholders such as partners, customers, investors, etc., thereby only serving partial video communication and collaboration needs.

Enterprise video platforms like VIDIZMO, on the other hand, are capable of handling large-scale video needs for all video use cases, including customized industry-specific video uses. Additionally, VIDIZMO’s video streaming platform is capable of managing any volume and all types of video and digital media content in a comprehensive platform that is accessible to internal employees and external users such as partners and customers, with varying levels of access rights and permissions. VIDIZMO is available in all deployment models in the cloud and on-premises and offers high interoperability with all different line of business applications and IT systems and well as high customizability to suit specific customer needs.

Even with some basic features on its roadmap, Microsoft Stream is far behind its competitors in a rapidly evolving enterprise video platform market with players like VIDIZMO that will always have a competitive advantage in terms of platform features and functionality, it’s breadth of use, and the number of customers and enterprise needs it can serve. Overtime, even as Stream plays catch up in a fast growing market, a video-focused vendor such as VIDIZMO that solely specializes in video streaming solutions will always have superior product features and functionalities coupled with continuous innovation and platform enhancements adapted and customized for changing customer needs.

To learn more about VIDIZMO video streaming capabilities or for inquiries regarding our pricing plans, contact us today or visit our website for details regarding our solutions and offerings.


Tags: enterprise video streaming, Microsoft Stream, enterprise video platforms

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