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Media Streaming Added to Amazon CloudFront

Amazon Web Services LLC unveiled media streaming for its content delivery service, Amazon CloudFront, on December 16, 2009. The brand new feature enables streaming delivery of audio and video content, thus providing an alternative to progressive download where end users download a full media file.

According to Amazon officials, Amazon CloudFront streams content from a worldwide network of 14 edge locations, which ensures low latencies and also offers cost-effective delivery. Like all Amazon Web Services, Amazon CloudFront requires no up-front investment, minimum fees or long-term contracts and uses the pay-what-you-use model.

General manager of Amazon CloudFront Tal Saraf said in a statement released in conjunction with the company’s announcement, “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. We’re excited to add streaming functionality to Amazon CloudFront that is so easy, customers of any size can start streaming content in minutes.”

Amazon reports that viewers literally watch the bytes as they are delivered because content is delivered to end users in real time. In addition to giving the end user more control over their viewing experience, streaming also lowers costs for content owners by reducing the amount of data transferred when end users fail to watch the whole video.

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

Daniel Rhodes of video sharing website Vidly said in a statement, “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. 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 popular open source video player, JW Player. “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,” said LongTail Video co-founder Jeroen “JW” Wijering.

Using Adobe’s Flash Media Server 3.5.3 (FMS), Amazon CloudFront lets developers take advantage of many features of FMS. Customers can decide to deliver their content via the Flash standard Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) or using its encrypted version, RTMPE (for added security). Customers can also use advanced features like dynamic bit rate streaming (which automatically adjusts the bit rate of the stream plated to the end user based on the quality of the user’s connection). Currently supporting on-demand media, Amazon CloudFront streaming support for live events is slated for 2010. For more information regarding Cloud Hosting options please visit Nubifer.com.

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