NAB Show 2016 – What’s new with Azure Media Services?

We’ve had a very busy year on the Azure Media Services team creating a number of new services, launching new features, and improving the service based on our direct customer feedback. This year at NAB our team flooded the Azure blog with details on all of the great new features. I’ll post an individual blog and comment about each of these new features over the next few weeks, and get into some of the details.

To start out, I’ll recap our primary NAB announcements and point you to more information on how to get started with each of the new services and features.

Azure Media Analytics

In Sudheer Sirivara’s main NAB blog post for our team, he highlighted a new service that my team has been hard at work bringing to market. This new service is called Azure Media Analytics, and it was a hit at the NAB show. We were even selected as one of the “Best new products of NAB 2016” by Streaming Media magazine.

Azure Media Analytics was announced as public preview right ahead of NAB. It is  a collection of eight speech and vision services that are enterprise ready, compliant, secure and offer global reach. Azure Media Analytics brings key new capabilities like motion detection, speech transcription, deep indexed video search, content moderation and more to the video domain. These capabilities have applications in a variety of industries including public safety, government, surveillance, retail, education, automotive, and more. Media Analytics is a key addition to the family of services that are offered under Azure Media Services umbrella.

You can learn more about it in a detailed blog post from Milan Gada and can also try it out here

We’ve also created a brand new landing page for Media Analytics on Azure.com where you can get access to the Documentation pages for all of our new Media Analytics tools.

 

Apple Fairplay Streaming

We also announced the public preview of FairPlay streaming support in the Azure Media Services platform. Apple FairPlay makes it possible to securely stream premium content using the HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol. By implementing FairPlay natively in Azure Media Services, we now enable you to easily encrypt video, exchange keys, and securely play back content optimally on iOS, Apple TV, and OS X devices. With integrated support for FairPlay, PlayReady and Widevine, Azure Media Services provides a complete multi-DRM cloud solution for streaming VOD and Live content, enabling our customers to use the most optimal protocols to reach their audiences on the widest range of today’s popular devices.

You can read Mingfei Yan’s blog post on how to Stream Premium content to Apple TV with Azure Media Services

 

 

MPAA and FACT certifications

One of my favorite topics that I have blogged on in the past is our security model in Azure Media Services, and our teams focus on compliance and certifications.   In my previous blog post on how our team achieved CDSA certification, I outlined the work that the team focused on to get us to the point where we could bring in an MPAA auditor for our Encoding and Streaming platform. I’m very pleased to announce that we have completed the MPAA audit process, and in addition we have completed the FACT certification process as well.

In March 2016, Microsoft Azure became the first hyper-scale, multi-tenant cloud provider to successfully complete a formal assessment by the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) that addresses all three of their Content Security Best Practices frameworks: Common, Application, and Cloud Security Guidelines. To me this successful audit is a major success, as it was something that I deemed as critical for customers and required from the day we started building out the encoding service.

In addition, we were also very pleased  to announce the additional achievement of Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) certification, which provides an additional level of security assurance to premium content owners who wish to leverage the Azure cloud platform.

 

MPEG Common Media Application Format streaming

Another highlight from NAB is the public announcement and release of the Common Media Application Format (CMAF).  A couple years back, I was attending a meeting in Cupertino, CA, and had the privilege to be involved in a conversation with some of the leaders in the streaming media format business.  As a result of an unexpected parking lot conversation, we kicked off a work stream to consolidate on the streaming file format used in the industry. The primary goal being to move to a single file container format with support for a common encryption format that would allow for the CDN caching of streaming media to be simplified and in the end reduce costs.

The Common Media Application Format (CMAF) is the result of that early conversation some two-years back.  The CMAF media streaming format,  jointly led by Microsoft and Apple to streamline internet video delivery, has received wide industry support and has been submitted to MPEG for standardization.

CMAF is based on that primary goal of convergence from technology that evolved from Apple QuickTime and Microsoft Smooth Streaming (fragmented ISO MP-4)  that has been widely adopted in combination with MPEG DASH streaming (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP). It is also supported in all major HTML5 Web browsers.  The CMAF file format includes MPEG Common Encryption for secure playback across all major DRM systems and will enable a single encoding of premium video, such as a movie or TV show, to be securely streamed to any device with Internet access.  CDN’s and networks (and customers of Azure Media Services eventually) will benefit from efficient caching and routing of the same media segments over HTTP, broadcast, and multicast networks, regardless of consumption device.

I’ll be writing up a more detailed blog about the CMAF file format and explaining it’s benefits at a later date.

 

Summary

That’s just a few of my favorite highlights from this year’s NAB – but that is far from all we announced.

Stay tuned for more Azure Media blog posts that will dive deeper into these announcements. Learn more about Azure Media Services.

For official documentation and discussion of new features on Azure Media Services, please check out our documentation. If you have questions about Azure Media Services, please use one of these two official community forums listed below or visit our page on Azure.com to get your technical questions answered. And as always, you can just ping me directly on my Twitter account or add a comment/question below.

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