2014-11-19 Office 365 for Video.jpg

Video and video management is no longer a missing link in Office 365. Microsoft is now offering Office 365 Video to its First Release customers. It will make it available to most Office 365 plans for enterprise early next year.

The development is no real surprise, given the growing enterprise customer base for Office 365 and the increasing importance of video as a means of information and data transmission.

NextGen Portals

According to Mark Kashman, senior product management at the Office 365 group, the new feature enhances the existing collaboration and document management features in SharePoint.

"Now we have a tremendous opportunity to expand on the Portals portfolio and deliver new experiences that have taken weeks, if not months, to build, based on common patterns of valuable portal solutions we’ve seen customers put in place. Going forward, Office 365 will serve as a platform for us to deliver new destinations–NextGen Portals," he noted.

These new portals will, by design, be:

  • Intelligent: Using Office Graph and Delve to deliver personalized, relevant information to users
  • Social: Using Yammer to integrate social interactions
  • Mobile: Easy access to content from any device anywhere
  • Ready to go: Easy to develop intranet portals

Using established and recent product development at Microsoft, particularly Graph and Delve, Microsoft has built a video service for posting, sharing and discovering video content. Think of it as a faux ‘YouTube for Enterprise’.

Powered by Azure Media Services, Office 365 Video offers adaptive smooth streaming technology that optimizes video playback for the device it’s being viewed on. These are the same video services were used during the last Olympics to develop 6,000 hours of video in 18 days.

Video Content Market

In the recent Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Video Content Management, Gartner estimates that large companies stream an average of 10.8 hours per user per month. Gartner expects that to grow to 16 hours per user per month by 2016.

Use cases include video sharing for customer service, video as an inter-team collaboration tool and video for improving sales and training. Although the market is currently experiencing extreme turbulence, Gartner expects this to be resolved through consolidation.

More importantly for Office 365 is the fact that Gartner identifies cloud-based or hybrid video content management as the main interest areas for enterprises. All Microsoft has to do to capitalize on this is guarantee security, which this release it has gone out of its way to emphasize.

In this scenario, adding video into Office 365 makes complete sense. Where Office 365 is deployed, video will be made available across the enterprise at no additional cost to current users.

Videos stored in Office 365 will count against the pooled storage limits in SharePoint Online.

There are four core elements to the new Office 365 video service, Kashman noted.

  1. Simplicity: With the new web interface that has been designed for the new service, users will be able to simply drag-and-drop the video files into the system, or upload them from mobile devices. It will also create metadata for the new files.
  2. Discoverability and shareability: Using that metadata it will be able to find videos with a dedicated search experience. Just like documents, or other kinds of content they will also be also findable using Delve, as they will automatically be fed into Microsoft Graph.
  3. Mobile: Once the videos have been uploaded into Office, they will be viewable on any device. They will also be able find content from the home page and view that content at will.
  4. Built-in security: It is easy to set up permissions from the home page using the same Active Directory powering authentication in all areas of Office 365. Channels are easy to create and assign delegated owner(s) — or channel managers — who can then manage their own.

Office 365 Roadmap

Microsoft describes this launch as only the beginning. The Office 365 team is already working on the next additions to the service, which will be added automatically as soon as they are available. As Kashman said: 

We will focus on broader mobile device coverage, 'publish to' scenarios like using Office Mix to publish training content into Office 365 Video recommendations powered by Office Graph, ability to embed videos elsewhere in your intranet, captions, the ability to create collections and share them, and always monitoring performance and solid upload experiences and means to improve overall."

Office 365 Video is the first of the new NextGen portals on the way to Office 365. All tof hese new portals will be designed for mobile as well as regular desktop access and will all offer intelligence access to enterprise.