Now playing at SmoothHD.com – a preview of video delivery using IIS Smooth Streaming.
Announced this morning in a joint press release by Microsoft and Akamai, IIS Smooth Streaming enables video delivery at the best quality each viewer’s network and hardware will allow. Smooth Streaming builds on the Adaptive Streaming technology developed, tested, and proven by Microsoft in delivering the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the Web. By using standard HTTP requests and responses instead of proprietary streaming protocols requiring proprietary edge servers, IIS is able to offer tremendous cost savings and scalability advantages relative to competing solutions. Finally, IIS simplifies management on the server by minimizing the number of files required.
We’ve put a great deal of work into getting this technology right, so I would encourage you to go to SmoothHD.com, try the experience for yourself, and tell us what you think! So let’s take a look at what IIS Smooth Streaming means…
From a Technical Perspective
Smooth Streaming is a new IIS 7.0 extension that delivers fragments of media content designed for Silverlight-based players, powering the same great Adaptive Streaming user experience seen throughout the NBC Olympics. The upcoming release of Expression Encoder 2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is used to encode media at a spectrum of bit rates, and publish it directly to the IIS server. The player requests fragments from IIS by using RESTful URLs like…
and the IIS server efficiently locates and delivers the corresponding media fragment to the player. Previous iterations of the technology provided a great user experience but proved difficult to manage. IIS greatly simplifies management by reducing the number of files on disk by several orders of magnitude without compromising the quality of playback.
From a Content Delivery Perspective
IIS Smooth Streaming provides industry-leading Total Cost of Ownership by using standard HTTP requests and responses. This allows it to align naturally with existing HTTP delivery and scale-out infrastructures as requests and responses can be proxied and cached by existing edge servers and HTTP appliances. Unlike competing streaming solutions, delivering Smooth Streaming to clients does not require investing in deploying, configuring, and managing a swarm of proprietary distribution servers. IIS Smooth Streaming was created with scalability and HTTP cacheability as first-class design goals, to help our customers minimize the cost per megabyte delivered.
From a Content Producer’s Perspective
Customers will be able to use a new encoding option in Expression Encoder 2 SP1 to author media content ready for Smooth Streaming. Expression Encoder 2 will also include a plug-in that allows customers to publish the media directly to IIS server with a single click, and Akamai has announced plans for a similar plug-in that allows users to publish content directly to the Akamai network. Expression Encoder also allows customer to apply templates that provide both visual styles and Silverlight heuristics algorithms that power the user experience. In short, the products work together to make authoring the content and delivering it to viewers easy and accessible to everyone.
From a Developer’s Perspective
Silverlight and Expression Encoder give developers the power to tune the end-user playback experience for their target audience, and to integrate Smooth Streaming playback into their Silverlight applications. Akamai’s Open Video Player initiative will also made it easy for developers to integrate Smooth Streaming video delivery with value-added services such as advertising and analytics.
Once again, please try the technology for yourself at SmoothHD.com, and also by checking out Expression Encoder 2 SP1 when it becomes available. We’d love to hear what your experience is, and how we can make it better.
--John A. Bocharov
Program Manager, IIS Smooth Streaming