Office Video in 365
Day two of SPC 2014. Favourite session today was the Office Video one presented by Gerald Ferry & Marc Mroz.
Office Video is just starting Preview, which means you have to ask to try it, and it is not yet intended for production use. General Availability timing hasn't been set yet, but I know of a number of our clients that will be pushing to get their hands on it.
We've been looking for an easy to use video platform for several years now. YouTube is certainly easy, but it doesn't provide much control over the experience, and it certainly isn't appropriate for internal content. Vimeo is very nice, but it isn't integrated into SharePoint. For those of you that know our product portfolio, Video Player is a good platform for presenting videos in SharePoint, but it doesn't provide the content author experience, which is where a lot of the challenges are. We've been working with Azure Media Services for several years now, but while it now solves the encoding challenges of making videos available on the web, it still really lacked finesse for the content authors.
Intended as a video platform for the enterprise, Office Video leverages Azure Media Services and Office 365 to solve this. SharePoint 2013 already had great native support for videos, but the SharePoint content database really isn't the place to stream videos from. Azure is. With Office Video, content authors upload videos in whatever format they choose into SharePoint, which is easy for them to do. Office Video then ships the videos over to Azure Media Services. Azure then encodes it into a variety of formats to support different devices (Apple HLS, Smooth Streaming, MP4, and the new MPEG-DASH format). Depending on the device, the appropriate format is streamed down to optimize the experience.
All of this is done in a secure manner. Videos are secured, so this can be used within your corporate network for internal use. SharePoint's awesome Content Search Web Parts and styling are then used by Microsoft to create the consumption side of Office 365, where users can browse through channels, see videos they have permissions for, and watch them on any device.
I'll be working on another post describing how this fits into what we're doing with videos in SharePoint on public facing web sites, and the technical details of how this all works. Currently Office Videos is only intended for internal audiences, but Azure Media Services can certainly support massive external audiences. Ultimately Microsoft will likely provide the external publishing and leveraging of Azure's Content Delivery Network with caching points all around the world. This is the same infrastructure NBC Olympics used for the Sochi Olympics, and allowed 2.1M simultaneous streams of the gold medal hockey game, the largest online event ever (and yes I'm Canadian, so there is some national pride there too in winning gold).
Of course Oslo is another of the important announcements, and how this fits into that service will be very exciting too. More on that to come.