Microsoft Azure announces new capabilities and partnerships at IBC 2017

Posted on September 15, 2017

Partner Director, Azure Media and Azure CDN Services

Over the past months, we have aggressively added innovative new capabilities in Azure to enable content owners and partners to prepare, store, protect, distribute and monetize media in the cloud. We are thrilled to see media & cable organizations choosing Microsoft Azure for their digital transformation needs. Whether helping organizations move their focus away from infrastructure to content, distributing content with digital era velocity, or providing reliable and relevant content, Microsoft Azure is the trusted and global-scale cloud for the media industry’s needs.

Azure Media Services

In response to enthusiastic customer feedback, we have added the following new capabilities to Azure Media Services.

  • Democratizing AI for Media Industry: Video Indexer a powerful new capability which brings AI to life for media industry was introduced a few months back at BUILD 2017, as a unique integrated bundling of Microsoft's cloud-based artificial intelligence and cognitive capabilities applied specifically for video content. Its brings capabilities like face detection, sentiment extraction, object dectection, audio transcripts and more. Enhancements to this service include support for Egyptian Arabic language for speech analysis, playback at multiple speeds, and many more.
    Azure Media Redactor is a powerful cloud video processing service leveraging word-class artificial intelligence, which is capable of automatically detecting and blurring faces in your videos, for use in cases such as public safety and news media. This is a new addition to the broad set of already existing capabilities of Azure Media Analytics.
  • HEVC Encoding support: The improved encoding efficiency of HEVC helps video service operators deliver higher resolution and higher quality video to their viewers, while saving on storage and CDN costs. Apple’s iOS11 release will support this codec, which will ensure a large addressable market for operators who adopt this codec. HEVC encoding is now generally available in Azure Media Services via the Premium Encoder. Further, HEVC encoding is priced the same as H.264 – we believe this to be critical to the success of our customers.

Azure CDN

The following new capabilities to optimize performance for media streaming and dynamic content were added since NAB for Azure CDN.

Media streaming optimized delivery With Azure CDN: We have added the ability to easily optimize the delivery of streaming media. With a single click, media streaming optimizations are automatically applied. This results in fast and efficient delivery of media assets to users and optimized requests to origins.

Dynamic content acceleration: Azure CDN now supports Dynamic Site Acceleration (DSA) to optimize the delivery of dynamically served content. When DSA is enabled the performance of web pages with dynamic content is significantly improved as a result of route/network optimizations, resource prefetching and smart image compression.

One Click Integration with Storage and Web Apps: Pursuant to our goals of simplifying & making CDN capability transparent to our users we have enabled “One Click” enablement for assets in Azure storage as well a simple on click enablement of CDN for Websites & Web apps built on Azure.

Azure Storage

Azure Storage has made substantial improvements in 2017 to address the needs of Media & Entertainment customers. This includes:

  • Azure Archive Blob Storage - Azure Archive Blob storage is designed to provide Media organizations with a low cost means of delivering durable, highly available, secure cloud storage for rarely accessed data with flexible latency requirements. This is in addition to the existing Hot & Cool tiers which provide instantaneous high throughput object storage.
  • Blob-Level Tiering - To simplify data lifecycle management, we now allow customers to tier their data at the blob level.  Customers can easily change the access tier of a blob among the Hot, Cool, or Archive tiers as usage patterns change, without having to move data between accounts. Blobs in all three access tiers can co-exist within the same account.
  • Larger Object Sizes – Azure Blob Storage now supports up to 5TB objects to address the needs of 4K and 8K media.
  • Higher performance – Azure Blob Storage now supports significantly higher throughput for object reads, up to gigabytes per second for a single object to support post production, transcoding and other workloads. Write throughput has also improved to support large media ingestion including Media Archival.
  • Encryption at rest (including customer managed keys)– Azure Blob Storage has support for Encryption at rest to meet the security needs of our media customers. Azure is the only public cloud compliant with the MPAA certification. This summer, we launched a preview for customer managed keys, which allows customers to further enhance security by encrypting the data with their own keys.

Growing Partner Ecosystem

At IBC this year, we are excited to announce that our partner ecosystem is growing at a rapid pace, enabling our customers with solutions that span the length and breadth of digital workflows.

Earlier this year, we announced that Avid has selected Microsoft Azure as their preferred partner to power their business in the cloud. Visitors to the Microsoft booth at IBC can see a demonstration showcasing an integrated Microsoft Azure and Avid offering.

In late July, it was announced that Ooyala’s Flex platform, which runs on Microsoft Azure, will now be utilized by Zone TV for its end-to-end workflow needs. Also, other notable customers who are driving value from Ooyala's solution are National Rugby League (NRL), SiriusXM and Zoomin.TV (Netherlands). We are pleased to announce that visitors to Hall 15 at IBC can also see a joint demo between Ooyala’s Flex and Azure Media Services.

We are also pleased to announce our new partners – Amagi and axle Video. Amagi, which provides cloud-managed broadcast services and targeted advertising solutions, announced that their CLOUDPORT product, a cloud playout platform, can now be deployed on Microsoft Azure. axle Video, which provides Media Management solution, announced a deep integration with Microsoft Video Indexer to enhance their axle ai product.

We have also expanded the partnership with LiveArena as it launches LiveArena Broadcast Room, an end-to-end service allowing production and broadcast of Live and on-demand TV to any device, built entirely on Microsoft Azure.

Additionally, Levels Beyond, makers of Reach Engine, has announced the release of Reach Engine Media Services, which is built on Microsoft Azure and integrates with Microsoft Azure Storage. XenData, provider of high capacity data storage solutions, announced the launch of its managed hybrid cloud service by integrating with Microsoft Azure Storage.

Stay tuned for more Azure blog posts that will dive deeper into these announcements.

We’re continually innovating and forming new partnerships when it comes to enabling media workflows on the cloud, and invite you to take advantage by building on Microsoft Azure.

Come see us at IBC 2017

Learn more about Azure Media Services and Azure Storage, and visit us at our IBC Booth in Hall 15 to meet the Azure Media Services and Azure Storage team and see these services in action. We would also like to invite you to the Microsoft Hall to speak with our partners – Amagi, GameOn Technology, GrayMeta, IPV Limited, LiveArena, Make.TV, Oceaneering, Oooyala, Ownzones, StreamingBuzz, Veritone Media, and x.news information technology.

If you are not attending the conference but would like to learn more about our services for the media industry, follow the Azure Blog to say up to date on new announcements.