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All Things Streaming

Streaming industry news, how-to’s, and more

Why Wowza Streaming Engine?

February 18, 2014 by Chris Knowlton

Wowza has always been about creating technology that improves streaming. The latest version of our flagship product, Wowza Streaming Engine, carries on that tradition.

Formerly known as Wowza Media Server, our streaming server software has broken new ground many times. In the first version, released in early 2007, it provided a lower-cost, more fully-featured alternative for Flash media delivery. Version 2 saw the industry-first introduction of support for multiple traditional and adaptive streaming formats, allowing you to consolidate parallel infrastructures and reach any screen with a single, simplified video workflow. Version 3 expanded the architecture to fill video workflow gaps by enabling new functionality, such as unified network DVR, direct integration with DRM service providers, multi-format closed captioning, and transcoding/transrating of incoming streams.

In the just-released fourth version, now called Wowza Streaming Engine, we’ve made hundreds of improvements, with a focus on three major areas: easier control, standardized format, and transcoding performance. Besides just technical specs, what is the broader impact of these new features? Let’s take a look.

Easier control. The Wowza Streaming Engine Manager, our new web-based admin panel, makes the power of Wowza multi-screen streaming much more accessible to anyone that wants to stream. Previous versions of our software were a better fit for developers and command-line users. Without taking away any of the previous methods of control, the new manager provides a more intuitive approach to managing streaming for anyone who prefers an administration panel. The responsive-design HTML console allows you to run any Wowza Streaming Engine server from any device, from an iPhone to a computer with a large LED screen, and the console adapts to the size and shape of the screen you are using. Bottom line? Managing streaming from almost any source to any screen just got a whole lot easier.

Standardized format. The format is MPEG-DASH, or Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP, the first industry-supported and internationally-standardized adaptive streaming format. For many years, Wowza has been great as a “Swiss Army knife” that could take in multiple stream sources and deliver in a variety of traditional and third-party, vendor-driven adaptive streaming formats. As DASH gains momentum in the streaming ecosystem, our full support for DASH will help not only reach any screen, but do so using fewer streaming formats. The outcome will be further reductions in streaming infrastructure complexity.

Transcoding performance. When live adaptive streaming first hit the market in early 2008, the only way to create the full set of stream qualities needed for a smooth playback experience across varying player bandwidths and hardware conditions was to invest tens of thousands of dollars to buy several synchronized streaming encoder appliances – and that was just for one live stream. We’ve come a long way. Now, using Wowza Transcoding with built-in support for the latest graphics processing capabilities from NVIDIA and Intel, you can buy a single commodity server and convert several incoming HD streams into multiple renditions each for seamless playback on any screen.

Each of these focus areas is powerful in its own right. With the combination of the three – ease-of-use, standardization, and performance – Wowza is, once again, changing the streaming landscape.

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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.