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Streaming Media in the Cloud by Amazon and Adobe

CloudFront streaming uses Adobe’s Flash Media Server (FMS) and lets developers take advantage of its powerful features

CloudFront Session at Cloud Expo

Cloud Computing Expo - Amazon Web Services announced, on Wednesday, streaming media delivery for Amazon CloudFront, the content delivery service from AWS.

This new feature enables streaming delivery of audio and video content, providing an alternative to progressive download where end users download a full media file.

Amazon CloudFront streams content from a worldwide network of 14 edge locations, ensuring low latencies and providing cost-effective delivery. Like all Amazon Web Services, Amazon CloudFront requires no up-front investment, minimum fees or long-term contracts, and customers only pay for what they use. To learn more about Amazon CloudFront and to start streaming content, visit http://aws.amazon.com/cloudfront.

“Many customers have told us that an on-demand streaming media service with low latency, high performance and reliability has been out of reach– it was technically complex and required sales negotiations and up-front commitments,” said Tal Saraf, General Manager of Amazon CloudFront. “We’re excited to add streaming functionality to Amazon CloudFront that is so easy, customers of any size can start streaming content in minutes.”

With streaming, content is delivered to end users in real time – viewers watch the bytes as they are delivered. This gives the end user more control over their viewing experience. It also lowers costs for content owners by reducing the amount of data that is transferred when end users don’t watch an entire video.

To stream content with Amazon CloudFront, users simply store the original copy of their media objects in the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and then enable those files for distribution in Amazon CloudFront with a simple command using the AWS Management Console or the Amazon CloudFront API. End users requesting streaming content are automatically routed to the CloudFront edge location best suited to serve the stream, so end users can get the highest bit rate, lowest latency, and highest quality stream possible. Multiple levels of redundancy built into Amazon CloudFront ensure that customers’ streams are served reliably and with high quality.

“In the five minutes it took us to implement Amazon CloudFront's streaming service, Vidly was able to both cut costs and offer additional features that significantly improved the in-video experience for our worldwide audience,” said Daniel Rhodes of Vidly, a video sharing website. “Without any upfront capital, we are able to side-step the purchase and administration of streaming servers while still getting all the same benefits. Amazon CloudFront brings all the benefits together in such a great tightly integrated way with Amazon's other services we use and is reliably distributed worldwide, all with barely any work on our part.”

LongTail Video had added support for Amazon CloudFront Streaming to their JW Player, one of the world’s most popular open source video players. LongTail Video co-founder Jeroen "JW" Wijering said, “there was a great fit between the JW player and Amazon CloudFront streaming: both focus on making it as easy as possible for anyone to incorporate high quality video into websites.”

Amazon CloudFront streaming uses Adobe’s Flash Media Server 3.5.2 (FMS) and lets developers take advantage of many of FMS’s powerful features. Customers can choose to deliver their content either using the Flash standard Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) protocol, or using its encrypted version, RTMPE, for additional security. Customers can take advantage of advanced features like dynamic bit rate streaming, which automatically adjusts the bit rate of the stream played to the end user based on the quality of that user’s connection. Amazon CloudFront streaming currently supports on-demand media. Support for live events is planned for 2010.

There are no additional fees to stream content with Amazon CloudFront. Customers pay only for the data transferred.

More Stories By Salvatore Genovese

Salvatore Genovese is a Cloud Computing consultant and an i-technology blogger based in Rome, Italy. He occasionally blogs about SOA, start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, open source and bleeding-edge technologies, companies, and personalities. Sal can be reached at hamilton(at)sys-con.com.