Willow | Wowza Media Server Management made easy
Willow is the answer to any Wowza Media Server developer’s or administrator’s problem of how to see what your Wowza Media Server is doing at any one time.We created Willow to meet our needs to be able to see what is going with our applications and servers publishing and playing all types of streams and shared objects. The current tools that exist to monitor Wowza Media Server didn’t meet our needs and we decided to build an application that would.
Willow provides realtime graphical and data based updates on the server that you are connected to. We have added in graphs and grids of data to help you understand what is happening not only throughout the application, but also down to each instance of any application that is running on the server.
For the data that is associated with your instance in shared objects, we also have the ability to dig into them to see what the values may be at a given time. This is helpful if you use shared objects to remember the state of the application or record data to then push out later. If you’re wondering why your shared objects aren’t working as you expect, this is an indispensable tool to help in debugging.
After all the graphs and data telling you what your applications are doing, we also have the ability for simple management of your Wowza Media Server applications by adding, removing and disabling them and introspecting the application.xml files for them. This functionality is the beginning of a lot as far as we are concerned and makes it easy to get started with a new application if you are doing simple live or VOD streaming. If you need to upload a JAR file, you’ll still need to do that via FTP and then restart the service for the JAR file to take effect.
First up is the login area. Being avid users of live media servers for the past 12 years, we understand that there is almost no way that you’ll only have just one server running at once. For our login screen we have set it up so that you can make as many shortcuts as you need. Clicking the “Add New Connection” button will open up a panel to put in the required information to login to a server with Willow installed on it.
Once you have your shortcuts setup, hovering over them will give you options to edit or delete them as you may be working on Amazon or other cloud servers and they will tend to go up and down quite often. Flexibility is the key.
Once logged in there are 4 options to choose from depending on what you want to do with your Wowza Media Server. Keeping track of connections, bandwidth, users, streams, shared objects and general activity either server-wide or all the way down to specific instances of applications.
The Dashboard covers what you would expect, overall live stats of the server, bandwidth, memory usage, connections and top 10 apps based on either connections or bandwidth. All of this information is updated live as the server reports it which allows you to monitor all aspects of your Wowza Media Server in one place.
The Applications tab allows you to see at a glance which applications are running on your server along with the instances for each one of them. Clicking on any particular application will open up the list of instances for that application. From there you can click on an instance and the details area will update with the application’s instance’s details which again allows you to delve deeply. We’ll cover more on that below.
The Streams tab shows you all streams that are active on the server at that point and updates live to let you monitor the activity on the server in realtime. Each entry will let you know the file being played or recorded and whether it is live or VOD with related information for each of those.
Lastly, the Server Management area is where you will create, delete, introspect and also disable/enable applications on the fly. More information on this area will be covered in another post, but essentially you may use this area if you are curious as to what is in the Application.xml file for an application (introspection), or maybe need to temporarily disable an application to not allow connections and then reenable it when you are ready or even just straight out delete and application if you know you don’t need it. Finally, this area will allow you to create a simple application to start streaming VOD or Live at a moment’s notice. Combine that with the above it’s very handy to do testing or put up a quick prototype to allow testing and then bring back down.
Finally, you can log out which then puts you back at the login screen to again connect to another server or create more shortcuts.
Taking advantage of both data and graph based information, we have allowed Willow users to keep track of bandwidth, connections and memory in a clearly understandable format. The graphs show at a quick glance by either mousing over a particular point in time or even selecting a range of time with a click and drag to zoom in and see what happened within that range.
These graphs are available both as an overview of for the whole server and also for each instance of each application. It doesn’t get any easier to see what is going on within your Wowza Media Server and help either troubleshoot issues and problems or even just track what is going on to see if you need to balance out the load on the server based on either bandwidth or connection count or memory usage.
Diving into each application allows you to check out the RTMP based users, shared objects that are being used in that instance, streams being played, recorded and published and overall performance. We’ve even included the ability to kick users out right from the area shown in the screenshot below! Monitoring and managing of apps in Wowza Media Server has never been easier.
Willow was built for developers and server administrators to be able to monitor their Wowza Media Servers in realtime. The information provided in both data and graph format is invaluable to understand what is happening on the server down to the individual instances of each application running at any one time.