It's a really good thing Wowza Media Systems doesn't have a corporate ego. It does an awful lot of work behind the IT scenes that few people ever realize.
The Golden, Colorado-based company, which started out 10 years ago simply wanting to replace Adobe Flash as a media server, has grown into the largest and most successful connector of dots in the live media streaming business. Yet few people know about it.
Wowza has 19,000 enterprise customers and counting in 170 countries, and it is an underlying technology enabler for publishing to Facebook Live—the hottest live Internet video channel in the world at the moment.
The company on June 28 announced upgrades to its flagship Wowza Streaming Engine software. With the latest release, enterprises can publish video directly to Facebook Live from within Wowza Streaming Engine. Additional improvements simplify the management, creation, delivery and ongoing management of broadcast-quality video.
Universal Video Translator
Wowza is a universal video translator. It can take in any feed from any camera or encoder and deliver it to almost any format to any location on the planet. The software can be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud, and it offers complete server-level control, cost-effective monthly pricing and APIs for workflow automation, Chris Knowlton, a vice president at Wowza, told eWEEK.
The new feature updates to Wowza Streaming Engine version 4.5 include the following functions:
-- Push video content directly to Facebook Live: Wowza Streaming Engine integrates directly with Facebook Live—including for 360-degree video. Wowza was selected as one of a few early Facebook Live integration partners, and the direct integration allows companies to quickly distribute live content to Facebook. The simple stream-to-Facebook Live capability is also now available in Wowza Streaming Cloud, the end-to-end streaming service from Wowza.
-- More options to push live content anywhere: Wowza Streaming Engine now has the option for a general Apple HLS or HTTP live stream push. This extends the level of control for developers and customers, allowing them to write their own code using the Wowza API to automate workflows and send live streams to both the content delivery network (CDN) of their choice and their desired storage for modification and management. With this ability to write the content distribution code directly into video applications, Wowza has further automated the distribution process and given developers more flexibility and control over their workflows. Wowza enables developers to push content to storage clouds including Azure and Amazon S3 and CDNs including Akamai.
-- Scalability and easy management: Wowza Streaming Engine now supports Simple Network Management Protocols (SNMP) for streamlined IT monitoring and operation. With support for this standard, Wowza bridges the gap between developers and IT operations, making it easier for IT operations managers to monitor Wowza servers in the way they're accustomed to handling the rest of their infrastructure, using tools such as Nagios and SolarWinds. For developers who want to programmatically delve into automated management and analysis of video streams, Wowza features as stable of Java and REST APIs for development of custom stream health monitoring applications.
Industry's De Facto Media Server
Wowza has become the industry's de facto media server software. Microsoft has gotten out of the business, and Real Networks, Apple and Adobe have moved their focus to their "TV everywhere"-type feature sets, Knowlton said.
"Live video streaming has quickly become one of the most powerful communication channels for brands, broadcasters and consumers alike. High-quality video is critical for engaging and retaining viewers, but it is also necessary to be able to reach audiences in real time on their preferred social media platforms and devices," said Paul Sweeting, industry analyst and founder of Concurrent Media Strategies.
"As streaming technology advances and becomes more accessible, it's exciting to see how live video becomes integral to our everyday personal and professional lives," he added.
"Wowza started up in 2005, and launched in 2007. It was essentially designed to be an [Adobe] Flash replacement, meant to be a lower-cost, more reliable, better-featured product than Flash Media Server," Knowlton said. "It quickly added more functionality, including Apple HLS streaming, Microsoft Smooth streaming, Adobe's new HTTP Dynamic streaming at the time—basically all the traditional Flash and Apple formats plus all the new adaptive streaming formats, plus traditional IPTV formats as well.
"It very quickly became known as a Swiss army knife among media servers," he said.
HTTP Live Streaming (also known as HLS) is an HTTP-based media streaming communications protocol implemented by Apple as part of its QuickTime, Safari, OS X and iOS software.