What is Streaming?

Streaming a media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. In our present technology world, we got a lot of multimedia like audio, video, chat, radio etc.

A peek into types of Streaming

Parallel Streaming:

There are a lot of encoders or transcoders for each protocols. At least one encoder per format. And each transcoder encodes each stream in particular bitrates to provide adaptive bitrates. And each transcoder handles the streams for a single protocol

Challenges:

1. Each format is delivered by a different streaming media server from a different vendor, each with its own programming languages and OS requirements. Hence the management of these streams gets complex

2. Although the video and audio is same and sometimes uses same codecs to stream into different formats, which always end up with dozens of renditions of same title in order to deliver the best possible video quality to all desired playback endpoints.

3. The cost of transcoders, servers, content protection systems, and storage for multiple formats is high.

4. Overall User experience is very good. Because each devices has its own protocols and there is a particular stream for the device. So User gets the best quality experience.
Parallel Streaming is best for High end Broadcasts where there will be millions of users, because vast storage is required and the cost is high to provide the best User Experience.

Unified Streaming

This type of streaming is different than parallel streaming. It uses one or more transcoders to transcode a single ingest stream to different output formats and different protocols. By choosing a good streaming server software that provides this transcoding on the fly. For on-demand, there can be different renditions batch converted early in different bitrates. According to the bandwidth on the client side the streaming server software streams the video.

Advantages:

1. Less disk content is required. because there is only a single file is needed which transcodes the video in different protocols and formats

2. The management of the streams is not so complex as that of hardware streaming or parallel streaming.

3. The cost is very low as there is not much requirement for many transcoders. Depending upon the service provided transcoders are needed and that will not cost much

Wowza Streaming Engine.

  • Just like its predecessor, Wowza Media Server, The Wowza Streaming Engine is a powerful streaming media server, used for streaming of live and on demand videos, audios, over network to desktop, laptop, and tablet computers, mobile devices, IPTV set-top boxes, internet-connected TV sets, game consoles, and other network-connected devices.
  • Its a Java based software and easily deployable on Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, Unix, Solaris.
  • Wowza Streaming Engine can stream to multiple devices simultaneously, including the Adobe Flash player, Microsoft Silverlight player, Apple QuickTime Player and iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), 3GPP mobile phones (Android, BlackBerry OS, Symbian, etc.), IPTV set-top boxes (Amino, Enseo, Roku, Streamit and others) and game consoles such as Wii, Xbox, and PS3.
  • Wowza is also compatible with streaming protocols like RTMP and its variants RTMPS,RTMPE, RTMPT, RTMPTE, HDS, HLS, MPEG DASH, RTSP, Smooth Streaming, MPEG-TS, and ICY(SHOUTcast/Icecast) Streams.
  • Supported Filetypes are MP4, FLV, MP3.

Features:

1. Streaming Live videos over the network, without much hardware requirements.

Anyone can publish video to a Wowza Server to playback the videos on to a site, by the use of a camera to record the videos, and encode the camera feeds using RTMP, RTP/RTSP and MPEG-TS encoders, and stream it over the network using RTMP, HTTPS protocols. The video once published live can be viewed in various devices at a time.

Wowza can be useful where we need to have live webinars or conferences or video conferencing, where we need to stream live videos without much expense and hardware requirement.

2. On Demand Audio or Video Streaming.

Streaming of stored video files over the network is another great advantage, where a site can be hosted and video can be available to playback on the website using Flash players like JWPlayer, Flowplayer, etc. Also we can make a custom player with our own requirements to suit the needs of the website.

Also uploaded video contents can be playbacked as live using playlist functionality, which adds the added advantage of the video on demand, or applications like play your favorite song.

3. On-line radio re-streaming from legacy SHOUTcast/Icecast encoders and servers

Re- streaming of audio from radio servers like SHOUTcast/Icecast is a feature that wowza provides with live streaming. A radio station set on a server can be made available to web apps and mobile apps through wowza, and can be readily available on the fly over the network.

4. Interactive communications: video chat and conferencing; audio/text chat; white boarding, screen sharing, and online games

Video chat, Conferencing, Screen sharing and online multiplayer games can be hosted on a high end Wowza server. But at a production level, wowza works effectively on one to one video conferencing and screen sharing. Multiple video chats, online games need much read/write speed in servers with a very high speed data transfer over the network. But Wowza happens to have latency in delivering the data/streams which is a drawback for such purposes.

5. Flexibility

Wowza runs on Java which is a very good advantage for Java developers. Wowza is very flexible, such that, It can be customized upon our requirements by developing Modules, which does a function which we implement with Wowza and httpproviders which is to pass a request to the module to act according to the command provided.

6. Adaptive Streaming

Streaming of video content to end user’s devices depending on the available bandwidth at the end user is a key feature in streaming, because a video when its viral is watched by a lot of people on various devices. If the network bandwidth is very high, then High Quality video works good. But the same HD video will not playback on a 2G Network connected device. So conversion of a single video into Multi bitrate videos and playback of the videos through a SMIL(Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) file, which is automatically generated for a live stream and a file that is already setup on server for on Demand streams, which contains all the details of all the multiple bitrate videos and which video bitrate video to play according to the end users bandwidth.

Wowza Add-Ons

Transcoder

To encode a live stream to different bitrates require a third party encoder which converts the live stream to different bitrates and the streams are published live. This is a bit tedious because making use of external transcoders and encoders are expensive. Wowza provides an add on where a monthly bill is charged which is cost effective and a single source stream is only needed which is converted into multiple bitrate on the fly with the help of Transcoder. This requires only a good server spec and no additional hardware spec is required.

nDVR

nDVR is also known as Network Digital Video Recorder. This is an add on we can add where the live streams will be recorded to the time set for recording and the whole recorded stream will be available for the set time window duration. This is an essential feature which we can implement in an STB or IPTV setup

DRM

DRM or Digital Rights Management is a security feature provided by wowza to protect the video content from the server. The DRM is provided by third party providers like Verimatrix, BuyDRM, EZDRM. Wowza provides integration with the following DRM Key Management Service partners to enable on-the-fly DRM encryption of premium video on demand and live content for a variety of playback devices. The videos will be encrypted and can be decrypted by a specially customized player to decode and playback the videos.

Wowza Streaming Engine Applications at a glance:

Wowza Streaming Engine as a streaming server is widely used in various fields of networking and streaming of Audio/Video. Some of them are:

1. Individual Websites:

Websites like youtube, Vimeo have a streaming server at its backend. For starters, a Dedicated server with Wowza installed is a good option for streaming video content over the network.

2. Content Delivery Networks (CDN):

These networks are a group of servers hosted in different datacenters in different parts of the world to make available data content to end users without latency. Wowza when integrated with CDN’s can provide streaming content, whether its live or on demand, to end users very fast in real time without latency. Some of the CDN’s wowza supports are Akamai, BrightCove, Limelight, Level3. The best and Wowza recommended CDN is Akamai.

3. Telecommunications:

Wowza is used in the telecommunications field which include data transfer like audio message, Video message, Video call. Specially Customized modules can be developed to serve the purpose.

4. TV and Radio Broadcasting:

An advantage of live and VOD streaming in Wowza makes the use of IPTV or OTT. IPTV or internet protocol TV can be setup with Wowza, where the videos are streamed to a TV via a connected STB(Set Top Box) where the channel content are streamed to the STB through Wowza. Whereas in OTT or Over The Top is a setup where the channels are available on end user devices like Mobiles, Laptops, PC’s, Tablets over the network, rather than the use of a STB.

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Reference:

  • Google
  • Wowza.com
  • Wikipedia
  • logo-wowza
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