More cloud-goodness from Microsoft, which has just announced the immediate and general availability of Windows Azure Media Services. Enterprises that don’t have the resources, or even the will to build on-demand video without having to invest in, or extend their existing infrastructure can now turn to this service to do the heavy work.

With it enterprises push all kinds of business related video into the cloud, which can be accessed anywhere or build a video on demand service similar to those provided by companies like Hulu or Netflix.

Azure video streaming.jpg
Azure video streaming

Microsoft, Video

According to a blog post by Scott Guthrie of Microsoft, the new service can do everything, or at least everything you may need to do with video, except of course make it, and who’s to say that won’t be offered in the future.

He added that internal research showed that one third of all Internet traffic is devoted to video and video consumption and that Microsoft is predicting that this will grow to 80% by the end of 2015. This is the thinking behind this release.

With today’s release, you now have everything you need to quickly build great, extremely scalable, end-to-end media solutions for streaming on-demand video to consumers on any device,” he said.

This is particularly good news for those working on tablets as the emphasis here appears to be on “any device” and with Microsoft’s new Surface tablet due on February 9th the release is quite timely, from a Microsoft perspective.

Azure Media Services

The advantages here are obvious, especially from the point of view of an enterprise that may need a few videos for training purposes, for example, but doesn’t want to invest in the hardware or software required for such a service, nor invest in the massive amount of time required to configure or connect such a service to the existing enterprise infrastructure.

And it connects to just about everything. With Windows Azure Media Services, users can stream video to HTML5, Flash, Silverlight, Windows 8, iPad, iPhone, Android, Xbox, Windows Phone and other clients using a wide variety of streaming formats, Guthrie says.

Using REST API’s, .Net and Java SDK’s, which developers can already download from the Azure developer website, developers will be able to build workflows for the automatic uploading, encoding and delivering of video.

Azure Dynamic Video Packaging.jpg
Azure Dynamic Video Packaging

And there are many other features that Guthrie outlines in the blog post. However, one of them that looks to be one of the more useful ones is the dynamic packaging, which allows users to store a video in a single file format and then stream it to many adaptive protocol formats at the moment.

The packaging and conversion happens in real-time on the origin server which results in significant storage costs as well as time saving. At the moment there is live streaming possibilities in private preview with a public preview coming out soon.