Azure Media Services

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Windows Azure Media Services supports encoding, management, and streaming of media from Windows Azure, in a completely hosted solution.The client requested a proof-of-concept end-to-end solution that involves uploading existing media assets to Windows Azure, encoding them to smooth streaming formats, and delivering them to an audience using Windows computers, iOS devices, and Android devices.


The architecture I ended up implementing on top of Windows Azure is the following:


From the client’s perspective, the only on-premise component is the uploader application, which uploads H264 MP4 files to an ASP.NET web application hosted in Windows Azure Web Sites (1). The web application creates a Windows Azure Media Services asset and streams the client’s upload to Windows Azure Blob Storage (2). Metadata about the upload, such as the file name, description, thumbnail URL, and other information is stored in Windows Azure Table Storage (3). When the upload completes, the ASP.NET application puts a message in Windows Azure Queue Storage (4), which a Worker Role dequeues and initiates an encoding job with Windows Azure Media Services (5). When the encoding job completes (6), the Worker Role generates streaming URLs with the Windows Azure Media Services origin servers, and stores these URLs for the web application to consume (8).

This end-to-end process can potentially replace the client’s current solution for media encoding and delivery. Although full pricing information for Windows Azure Media Services has not yet been disclosed (for example, the cost of on-demand streaming units), our estimates indicate a considerable cost savings when moving the whole solution to Windows Azure.


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