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All Things Streaming

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Market observations on media servers

June 5, 2015 by Chris Knowlton

Cisco estimates that IP video traffic will grow threefold by 2018. With much of video being streamed to desktops, TVs, and devices, this is a great time to be in the streaming media software business—right? For Wowza, it definitely is. If you’ve noticed fewer options in this space, though, you might be wondering…

What’s happening to big-name media server software these days?

Despite the explosive growth of video, some well-known streaming media products have faded away in recent years. Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and RealNetworks, all longtime providers of streaming technologies, have reduced or completely dropped their focus on updating and shipping streaming media server software. That raises the question…

Why are well-known media server software companies changing focus?

Several factors are undoubtedly in play for each company. However, three possible commonalities come to mind.

  • First, streaming media technologies have improved and become more interoperable across the board. For the most part, proprietary and vendor-driven codecs and streaming formats are declining in usage. The combination of H.264 video and AAC audio has become the most common codec set, and less-proprietary HTTP adaptive streaming has become the preferred means of delivery.
  • Second, there are more cost-effective media-delivery options now on the market. Some (such as Wowza Streaming Engine software) evolve rapidly and are able to support many traditional and adaptive streaming formats simultaneously, providing interoperability, future-proofing, and multiformat consolidation within a single low-cost product.
  • Third, media server software no longer is, or never was, a primary profit center for Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, or RealNetworks. As the market has shifted, these companies have turned their focus to other products and services that may align better with their current objectives.

Is Wowza moving away from streaming media software?

Not a chance! Delivery of streaming to any screen isn’t a side project for us; it’s our only focus, and has been since early 2006. We remain committed to making any-screen delivery easier for our customers. Our release of Wowza Streaming Engine Manager in early 2014 is a great example of this. This new responsive-design web-based admin console makes it much easier to configure, manage, and monitor your Wowza servers from any device. All of our other products and services revolve around Wowza Streaming Engine.

We must be doing something right—even as competing products fade away, our customer base continues to grow.

How is Wowza evolving to meet the changing needs of the market?

At NAB 2015 (the National Association of Broadcasters show), we announced Wowza Streaming Engine Pro, with new capabilities and premium features (including unrestricted transcoding) now included without an additional charge. We also copresented new options with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, both Works With Wowza partners, for more easily deploying Wowza Streaming Engine on their respective cloud platforms. Look for more integration with these and other Works With Wowza partners, including Rackspace and Google Cloud Platform, plus new exciting features, all coming in the months ahead.

We also formally launched Wowza Streaming Cloud, our new online service built on Wowza Streaming Engine. We’ve seen a perfect storm of streaming-market growth, acceptance of cloud-based streaming workflows, and new-to-streaming companies asking Wowza to provide a streaming service that’s even easier than running Wowza Streaming Engine in the cloud. Our first version is here, and includes pay-as-you-go pricing, no long-term commitments, no ads, and an any-screen player that can be hosted, embedded, and branded. Wowza Streaming Cloud will be evolving rapidly, with priorities driven by customer requests—try it and give us your feedback!

Got a comment? Drop us a line on Twitter @wowzamedia
Chris Knowlton

As a passionate evangelist for streaming media products, Chris Knowlton has spent 15 years working on technologies that make live and on-demand media delivery accessible. A recognized industry authority, Chris was honored in 2011 as a “Streaming Media All-Star” by Streaming Media Magazine, and holds several patents for streaming technologies.