Microsoft will close Azure Media Services by June 30, 2024, stepping away from the video workflow sector. This move was anticipated, especially after Azure’s CTO, Hanno Based, left last year, and the company began internal changes. Many Azure Media Services web pages on Microsoft’s website have been broken and neglected since the previous year. Azure Media Services wasn’t a major contender in the market, lagging behind competitors like Amazon’s Media Services. While Amazon acquired firms to strengthen their media services, Microsoft depended on third-party collaborations. A recent Microsoft LinkedIn post confirmed that Azure Media Services hasn’t been central to their media plans for a while. Now, businesses and enterprises are looking for Azure Media Services alternatives.
Microsoft didn’t earn much from Media Services and lacked a strong marketing strategy for it. The company will now concentrate on areas promising steady growth and a competitive edge, excluding streaming video. Azure video delivery clients shouldn’t worry about disruptions. Microsoft has been outsourcing this segment for around a decade, mainly to Verizon’s EdgeCast CDN (now named Edgio) and later included Akamai as another partner. Microsoft is discontinuing its Akamai collaboration but will focus more on their in-house CDN, Azure Front Door. An update on Microsoft’s CDN page to reflect current partnerships would be helpful. Moreover, Microsoft’s departure from this segment won’t heavily impact the streaming media industry.
Table of Contents:
What is Azure Media Services?
Azure Media Services (AMS) is a cloud-based media processing, storage, and streaming platform provided by Microsoft Azure. It enables users to securely upload, store, encode, and package video or audio content for both on-demand and live streaming to various devices.
Media Processing – Use Azure Media Indexer for audio and video content analysis and extract insights. Also, encode, protect, or process multimedia content using Azure Media Encoder.
Live Streaming – Supports live event broadcasting, with tools to manage and monitor the live event.
Dynamic Packaging – Transcode media files into multiple formats dynamically as per device and bandwidth conditions.
Content Protection – Offers a set of content protection features including DRM (Digital Rights Management).
Video on Demand – Stream previously recorded content to any device at any time.
Video AI – Enhanced video indexing capabilities, allowing features like facial recognition, voice transcription, and extracting metadata.
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Azure Media Player and Streaming
Azure Media Player (AMP) is a web player built to playback media content from Azure Media Services. It offers:
Adaptive Streaming – AMP supports formats like MPEG-DASH, Smooth Streaming, and HLS, allowing playback on various devices with different bandwidth conditions.
Azure Media Services provides adaptive bitrate streaming, ensuring viewers get the best possible quality based on their device capabilities and network conditions. Supported protocols include:
- Microsoft Smooth Streaming
- HLS (HTTP Live Streaming)
- RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol)
It’s also worth noting that AMS provides a feature called “Azure Live and On-Demand Media Streaming,” which enables users to deliver content efficiently to a global audience.
- Monetization – Integrated support for advertising standards like VAST, VPAID, and VMAP.
- Accessibility – Support for multi-language audio tracks and closed captions.
- Customizability – AMP can be styled and customized to fit any brand or design requirements.
In conclusion, Azure Media Services provides a comprehensive suite of tools and features to handle media processing and delivery tasks, catering to businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re looking to stream live events, host on-demand videos, or even delve into video analytics, AMS is equipped to handle it all. However, just like any other cloud service, careful consideration regarding costs, scalability, and specific requirements is vital before diving in.
- Scalability – AMS scales automatically to meet demand. This is especially useful for live events with unpredictable viewership.
- Versatility – With the wide array of tools and services on offer, AMS can handle both VOD and live streaming seamlessly.
- Global Reach – Azure’s CDN ensures content is delivered quickly to users worldwide.
- Security – DRM and AES encryption keep content secure. Also, it integrates with Azure’s identity and access management tools.
- Complexity – The breadth of features might be overwhelming for some users.
- Cost – Depending on usage, AMS can be expensive, especially for small businesses or individual users.
- Learning Curve – Requires some time to understand and optimize all its capabilities.
Azure Media Services Alternatives
Listed below are the best alternatives to Azure Media Services as per user reviews and feature capabilities.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elemental Media Services
AWS offers a suite of services designed for media processing and delivery. This suite includes MediaLive (for live video processing), MediaConvert (for on-demand video processing), and MediaPackage (for video packaging and origination).
AWS Elemental Media Services is a suite of services designed to make it easy to build reliable, broadcast-quality video workflows on the cloud. This set of services provides the tools needed to create, package, and deliver video content, all integrated with AWS’s vast cloud infrastructure.
MediaLive – Live video processing
Allows you to create high-quality live video streams for broadcast and streaming to multiple devices. Supports standard streaming protocols, rich encoding features, ad marker insertion, and more.
MediaConvert – File-based video processing for on-demand content
Transcodes content for broadcast and multi-platform delivery. It supports a wide range of codecs, DRMs, ad insertion, and other advanced features needed for on-demand content delivery.
MediaPackage – Video packaging and origination
Prepares and protects your video for delivery over the internet. It packages content on-the-fly to support just-in-time packaging, allowing for various streaming formats and DRMs. It also provides DVR-like features for live streams.
MediaStore – Media storage optimized for video
It provides an AWS service tailored for storing media, allowing for high performance and low-latency retrieval. This is crucial for live and on-demand media workflows.
MediaTailor – Video personalization and monetization
Lets broadcasters personalize and monetize content through server-side ad insertion. This ensures a seamless playback experience as ads are stitched into the content on the server-side, reducing the chances of viewers using ad-blockers.
Integration with AWS Ecosystem – The strength of AWS Elemental Media Services is its deep integration with the AWS ecosystem. For instance, you can use Amazon CloudFront for content delivery, AWS Lambda for serverless workflows, and Amazon S3 for storing raw content.
From live sports broadcasting to streaming a company’s internal meetings, AWS Elemental Media Services can be used for a wide range of applications. Its scalability ensures that it can serve both small businesses and major broadcasters.
Google Cloud Video Intelligence API
This is more for video analysis but can be combined with other Google Cloud services for a comprehensive media solution. The Google Cloud Video Intelligence API is a part of Google Cloud’s machine learning offerings, and it’s specifically designed to analyze video content. The API utilizes Google’s machine learning models to extract actionable insights from videos.
Label Detection – Recognizes over 20,000 objects and activities, assigning labels to sections of the video where these appear.
Shot Change Detection – Detects scene changes in a video. Useful for understanding the structure of a video and separating it into logical segments.
Face Detection – Identifies faces within videos, but not specific individuals (i.e., it doesn’t name the person, but it can detect if a face is present).
Object Tracking – Tracks objects as they move through frames in a video.
Explicit Content Detection – Recognizes inappropriate content within videos, which can help with content moderation.
Text Detection – Detects and extracts text from video frames, which can be useful for things like sign or license plate recognition.
Speech Transcription – This feature isn’t limited to just video but can convert spoken words into readable text.
Person Detection – Detects the presence of a person in video segments.
Integration – Being a part of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the Video Intelligence API seamlessly integrates with other GCP services. For example, you could store your videos in Google Cloud Storage and then process them with the Video Intelligence API. After processing, you could use tools like BigQuery to analyze the output or Pub/Sub to notify users of certain detections.
- Media Archives – For large media organizations with vast amounts of archived footage, the Video Intelligence API can help categorize, tag, and make this content searchable.
- Content Moderation – For platforms where users upload videos, the API can help in identifying inappropriate content
- Advertising – Ad agencies can use it to identify themes or objects in videos to place relevant ads.
- Surveillance and Security – The API can help in detecting anomalies or specific activities in security footage.
- Education – Teachers and institutions can auto-generate metadata for educational videos, making them easily searchable for students.
The importance of DRM, or Digital Rights Management, in video security cannot be overstated. Its primary function is to safeguard videos from unauthorized use and piracy, ensuring that creators receive their rightful revenue. Think about premium platforms, such as Netflix; they release movies and series that are protected by DRM to prevent subscribers from downloading and freely distributing them. This level of control is essential in a world where the film industry loses billions to piracy every year. Additionally, DRM upholds the integrity of content by ensuring it remains unaltered, preserving the creator’s original vision.
Furthermore, DRM facilitates various business models like rentals and subscriptions. On a consumer level, there’s added trust in knowing that the content they’re consuming is secure and unaltered. Sometimes, the use of DRM isn’t just a choice but a legal requirement, especially when licensors mandate its use for content distribution. DRM ensures the longevity and sustenance of content creation by protecting and securing the revenue streams of creators.
Serving over 3000 customers across 120+ countries, VdoCipher is a top-tier video hosting solution for elearning and media businesses.
The key features include Hollywood Grade Multi-DRM Video Encryption, AWS-powered servers, customizable HTML5 player, dynamic watermarking, a user-friendly dashboard, video analytics, adaptive streaming, and integration plugins.
Custom Video Player
- DRM Protected Video Streaming (Google Widevine and Apple FairPlay DRM)
- Make Your Smart Video Player with easy to use toggle buttons
- Custom HTML5 Video Controls
- SDKs available for various platforms like React Native, Android, iOS, Flutter, JS
- Easy customization without coding.
- Users can jump to video sections using chapters.
- Supports multi-language captions and search function.
AWS Server Storage
- Videos are stored on Amazon S3.
- Data remains secure, even during network or hardware issues.
- The player displays dynamic watermarks to deter screen capture.
- You can overlay user details, like email or user ID.
- Easy-to-use interface
- Upload, import, or organize videos in folders.
- Sections include accounts, payments, support, analytics, and player customization.
- Tutorial videos are available for guidance.
- Bandwidth and video usage for each video as well as for all the videos.
- Most of these analytics data can also be downloaded in CSV file.
- Avg watch percent and finishes
- Popular videos and cities
- Total view count
- Per video views & bandwidth data
- Total storage and bandwidth usage
- Supports major CMS like WordPress and Moodle.
- Videos can be embedded effortlessly on your website.
- Compatible with WP membership plugins and LMS platforms like LifterLMS and LearnDash.
- To secure videos from online piracy and unauthorized access
- Protect your revenue stream by restricting access and applying geo/domain restrictions
- To securely store and stream premium video content
- Restrict screen capture on majority of browsers and devices
- Make video content available to a large audience base even in tier 2 and tier 3 cities with Adaptive Bitrate Streaming. The video bitrates are automatically adjusted as per the network availability and device capabilities to deliver a buffer-free viewing experience.
IBM Video Streaming
Certainly! IBM Video Streaming, formerly known as Ustream, is a platform designed to provide both live and on-demand video streaming solutions. IBM acquired Ustream in 2016 and subsequently expanded and integrated it into its suite of enterprise offerings. It provides reliable, scalable, and professional live and on-demand video streaming services for businesses and enterprises.
Live Streaming – Allows broadcasters to stream live events, webinars, or any live content. This comes with real-time analytics, chat integration, and more.
Video On Demand (VOD) – Store and deliver pre-recorded content to viewers at their convenience.
Built-in Video Player – Embeddable, customizable, and supports adaptive bitrate streaming to provide an optimal viewing experience.
Multi-Device Streaming – Ensures content is accessible on desktops, mobile devices, and tablets.
Security – Offers password protection, encryption, restricted embeds, and access controls to ensure content remains secure.
AI-driven Insights – Uses IBM’s Watson to provide insights into video content, such as automated closed captioning.
Video Analytics – Understand audience engagement, track viewer metrics, and monitor performance.
Content Management – Organize and manage video assets, with features such as playlists, scheduling, and archiving.
Integration – Works with various enterprise solutions and has API support for custom integrations. Being a part of IBM’s broader cloud and enterprise services, IBM Video Streaming integrates well with other IBM offerings. This ensures businesses can weave it into their existing infrastructure and solutions seamlessly.
- Corporate Communications: Use for town hall meetings, training sessions, and other internal communications.
- Marketing and Sales: Product launches, webinars, and other customer-facing events.
- Events and Conferences: Stream keynote addresses, panels, or entire events to a global audience.
- Education: Lectures, seminars, and educational content delivery.
- Entertainment: For artists, musicians, or other entertainers to broadcast their events.
Akamai Media Delivery Solutions
Akamai Technologies is one of the world’s largest distributed computing platforms, known primarily for its content delivery network (CDN) services. The company’s media delivery solutions are designed to optimize the delivery of video, music, and software content over the internet. Let’s delve into the details:
Content Delivery Network (CDN) – At the heart of Akamai’s media delivery is its global CDN, ensuring content is served from the optimal location to reduce latency and improve speed.
Adaptive Media Delivery – Dynamically adjusts video quality in real-time based on the viewer’s network conditions, ensuring a smooth playback experience.
Download Delivery – Optimized for large file downloads, ensuring users can download software, games, or other large files quickly.
Media Services Live – Offers solutions for live streaming events, ensuring scalability and reliability.
Media Services On Demand – Optimize and deliver on-demand content to any device, anywhere.
Cloud Wrapper – Integrates and caches content closer to users by wrapping around multi-cloud environments.
Media Acceleration – Enhances traditional content delivery methods by optimizing data delivery for video, gaming, and other dynamic applications.
Security – Offers a suite of security features including DDoS protection, secure socket layer (SSL) encryption, and content protection to prevent piracy.
Integration – Akamai’s solutions are designed to work seamlessly with major streaming platforms, content management systems, and cloud providers. This makes it easier for businesses to integrate Akamai into their existing infrastructure.
- OTT (Over-the-Top) Platforms: Ensure smooth delivery of streaming video content to global audiences.
- Gaming: Optimize the delivery of game downloads, updates, and in-game assets.
- E-commerce: Enhance website performance, especially during traffic spikes, ensuring users have a seamless shopping experience.
- Live Events: Stream high-profile live events, ensuring minimal buffering and high quality.
What are some popular alternatives to Azure Media Services?
Popular alternatives include AWS Elemental Media Services, Google Cloud Video Intelligence, and VdoCipher.
Which service provides the best video security?
VdoCipher is known for its advanced video security capabilities, including DRM encrypted video streaming, secure offline downloads, and dynamic watermarking. However, “best” can vary based on specific requirements.
Is there a significant price difference among these alternatives?
Pricing can vary considerably based on the specific services, usage volume, and additional features required. It’s essential to compare the cost structures of each provider based on individual needs.
Which platforms are best for mobile or low-bandwidth scenarios?
Most of these services offer adaptive bitrate streaming to adjust video quality in real-time based on the viewer’s connection. However, the effectiveness of these solutions can vary, so testing is advised. VdoCipher offers adaptive video streaming to match the bitrates with the user’s network capabilities and device type.
Supercharge Your Business with Videos
At VdoCipher we maintain the strongest content protection for videos. We also work extremely hard to deliver the best viewer experience. We'd love to hear from you, and help boost your video streaming business.
Jyoti began her career as a software engineer in HCL with UNHCR as a client. She started evolving her technical and documentation writing skills to become a full-time Content Marketer at VdoCipher.