Video is more than just a content type. As a communication tool, video offers a very powerful way to deliver information to employees, in any context. Videos are not just great for information consumption, but can also be leveraged for collaboration. Earlier this week, we announced the launch of Office 365 Video powered by Azure Media Services. The Azure Media Services platform provides a rich, simple, scalable and secure media back-end and mobile device playback support for enterprises. Office 365 Video offers enterprises a means to manage a highly scalable video content store combined with engaging and intuitive user experience across devices and browsers and is integrated with SharePoint Online.
Video is how customers:
- Communicate – ideas, concepts, changes;
- Educate – onboarding and training;
- Collaborate – sharing best practices across communities
Customers can leverage video within an enterprise in a variety of ways – including corporate events / town hall meetings; employee and partner training; HR, legal and compliance videos. Video is a great enabler and Office 365 Video will provide a platform that will enable every enterprise user to consume videos with ease from anywhere and create rich mobile apps that leverage video for their use cases.
When the Azure team set out to build the backend for Office 365 Video we had a few goals in mind:
- Provide a rich, simple and secure turnkey video solution for enterprises.
- Provide an engaging, intuitive user experience across devices and browsers.
- Support for popular desktops/laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
- Seamless and secure cloud based encoding, hosting and encrypted delivery of an organization’s video assets.
Office 365 Video Overview
Office 365 Video is an intranet website portal where people in your organization can post and view videos. It’s a streaming video service for your organization that’s available with SharePoint Online in Office 365. It’s a great place to share videos of executive communications or recordings of classes, meetings, presentations, or training sessions.
When you upload a piece of content to Office 365 Video, SharePoint uploads that content to Azure Media Services where the content is encoded into various formats for adaptive smooth streaming so that the consumer can get the best playback experience based on the combination of device and bandwidth capabilities. Playback is based on H.264 at 720p resolution with bandwidth ranging from 400kbps – 3000kbps. Throughout playback the service monitors the quality of service and adjusts the playback every 2 secs to provide the best possible experience for each client. What’s important to note is that throughout the pipeline the video is encrypted using Azure Media Content Protection and AES-128 bit encryption. In addition to encoding videos, Media Services also creates a thumbnail at a fixed interval in the video which is used as metadata by SharePoint.
Streaming Videos efficiently, securely and at scale has been a major focus in SharePoint, and we believe that this offering offers a turnkey solution for video enabling the enterprise.
Why Azure Media Services?
Office 365 Video is a starting point of what will be a long term investment – integrating Media Services and SharePoint to enrich our video playback capabilities. Media Services is a cloud-based PaaS solution that enables you to efficiently build and deliver media solutions to customers. It offers a number of ready-to-use services that enable the fast ingestion, encoding, format-conversion, storage, content protection, and streaming (both live and on-demand) of video. Media Services can be used to deliver solutions to any device or client – including HTML5, Silverlight, Flash, Windows 8, iPads, iPhones, Android, Xbox, and Windows Phone devices. It supports a wide variety of streaming formats – including Smooth Streaming, HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), and MPEG-DASH Streaming.
In a nutshell, Office Video uses Media Services to transcode the user uploaded video files, host videos that are stored in & played from Azure, and surface the video on SharePoint pages. SharePoint lets a user upload their media assets and magically play their videos in all the browsers, without having to worry about compatibility issues. Since the service is based on Media Services, it supports the same input video codecs , a broad range including H.264, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, DV, HQ and HQX. Audio can be AAC, MP3 or WMA. Supported input file formats include .asf, .avi, .mod, .mts, .vob, .mp4, .mpg and .wmv.
Office 365 Video requires SharePoint Online. Once Office 365 Video has been rolled out to a qualified customer, Office 365 Video will be enabled for all users that have one of the eligible plans and have a SharePoint Online license assigned. Customers who have opted into First Release will begin seeing Office 365 Video appear over the next few days. Deployment beyond First Release, to standard deployment tenants is targeted to complete worldwide by early 2015.